Wow. Where to start. How To Be An Antiracist is the best non-fiction I have read in quite some time and I wish it was possible to make it required reading for everyone – especially in the United States.
The title tells you what you exactly what Ibram X. Kendi sets out to discuss in this book, and he delivers, giving readers the tools they need to be more aware of racism and more proactive in fighting it.
If the term “antiracist” is new for you, don’t worry – Kendi is thorough and clear from the beginning as to his definitions of racism and antiracism, and, more importantly, about why we as a society should stop settling for less adequate terms (e.g. “not racist”, “color-blind”, etc.). And while we’re on the topic of etymology, it’s worth noting that, yes, this is a book of study – it is also a study in politics, history, sociology, psychology, culture, biology, and more. As well it should be because, as Kendi makes so clear, racism does not exist in a vacuum and it is not a static thing. That is, it is ever-evolving and changing, and thus our approach to fighting it must also change.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I wanted to emphasize that this incredible discussion of racism (and especially of racism in America) is incredibly thorough and powerful. Much more thorough than I have been in my sweeping praise of it here, and far more powerful as well. If you are someone looking to better understand racism or to more effectively combat it, this book is for you. If you are not that reader, this book is especially for you.
I’ll add that I was also able to attend a speaking event of Kendi’s this week, and was blown away by how much the concepts laid out in this book could help us understand some of the recent events in the media, like the January 6 march on the capitol and the recent surge in discrimination towards Asians and Asian-Americans in our community. Unfortunately, these will probably not be the last events that Kendi will help us understand, but if there is one thing this book leaves you with, it is hope. Hope that we have the tools and the power we need to make progress towards a better, more antiracist society.
Read it? Loved it? Here’s links to some other great resources:
Read an interview with Ibram X. Kendi from the New York Times.
Visit the Center for Antiracist Research at BU, of which Kendi is the founder and director.
Check out this list of essays Kendi had written that you can read (for free)!
Get the book.