‘Why I’m No Longer Talking To White Persons About Race’ Is A PROACTIVE APPROACH
The provocative title is hard to ignore, therefore may be the book’s cover. Seen from afar, it looks called Why I’m No Longer DISCUSSING Race, which is certainly intriguing enough alone. You will need to look closer to see To Light People hiding beneath it in debossed letters. It’s a striking visual representation of white colored people’s blindness to every day, structural racism – one of the central thoughts that British journalist and feminist Reni Eddo-Lodge presents in her debut collection of essays.
“Why I’m No Longer Speaking with White People Close to Race” is also the name of a blog content she wrote back February of 2014. In that content, Eddo-Lodge wasn’t striving to remove white people from the discussion or consider them on a guilt trip; rather, she was easily saying that she’d possessed enough. It had been an take action of self-preservation. She was finished with talking to white colored people who’d never had to think about what it meant to be white colored, or who showed a deep mental disconnect when she informed them about her experience as a black girl, or who – rather than hearing while she spoke – had been almost instinctively organizing trite counter-arguments within their heads, looking forward to her to finish just to tell her that she was wrong – situations that may sound only also familiar to many people of color.
The post quickly went viral and, ironically, since she pressed publish she hasn’t been able to stop talking about race. Readers flock to see her speak at incidents around the U.K; just few a times ago, organizers of a meeting at London’s Tate Modern museum had to carefully turn hundreds of people away from among her events. She took to Facebook and Twitter to address the situation, apologizing to those that couldn’t get in – and pointing out her frustration at being underestimated. The complete incident, she wrote, spoke to “many of the problems I’ve written about in my book.”
In this collection of seven essays, Eddo-Lodge delves into subject areas like structural racism, class and feminism. But she begins with a crash training in black British record. Despite growing up in London, in school she studied black record through the lens of the American civil rights movements. It wasn’t until she went to university that she learned additional about her country’s brutal and extensive participation in the slave trade – which inspired her to find out more about what it was like to be black in post-slavery Britain. She writes concerning this record with the clarity and approachability of a curious learner posting what she’s discovered, presenting necessary context for everything she is going to discuss in the rest of the book. And even though Why I’m No Longer Talking centers on incidents in Britain, it’s nonetheless attainable to readers of black American history.
That’s the case throughout the book, as Eddo-Lodge touches on themes that will definitely resonate with people of color everywhere. That is especially evident in her exploration of white colored privilege, which she defines as “an lack of the results of racism” – an eloquent explanation paired with real-world examples of what happens when white colored privilege seeps into the conversation about race, be it an informal speak to a fresh acquaintance or a wider national debate around a racially motivated murder.
The impact of this blog post back 2014 was a clear sign that people – both white and black – were hungry for more meaningful discussions about race. This collection of essays is certainly Eddo-Lodge’s contribution to keeping the discussion going. But she needs it a step even more. Her publication is a call to action. That phone is muted at the beginning: “I hope you put it to use as a tool,” she writes in the preface, but by the end, Eddo-Lodge is certainly unapologetic in phoning racism a white difficulty: “It reveals the anxieties, hypocrisies and double benchmarks of whiteness. It is a difficulty in the psyche of whiteness that white colored people must consider responsibility to solve.”
It’s that boldness, that straight talk which makes this e book memorable. Eddo-Lodge pushes readers to recognize that racism is certainly a systemic problem that should be tackled by those that run the system.
Silvia Viñas is a journalist and editor for NPR’s Spanish-language podcast Radio Ambulante.