Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

Cover of Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge and quote: 'To be white is to be human; to be white is universal. I only know this because I am not.'

I haven’t read a lot of nonfiction books about racism but lately there have been a few books on the subject on my radar and this is one of them. It comes highly recommended. I was curious to see if it’s worth the hype and most importantly, I wanted to learn more about the subject. So here am I…

‘I’m no longer engaging with white people on the topic of race. Not all white people, just the vast majority who refuse to accept the legitimacy of structural racism and its symptoms. I can no longer engage with the gulf of an emotional disconnect that white people display when a person of colour articulates our experiences. You can see their eyes shut down and harden. It’s like treacle is poured into their ears, blocking up their ear canals like they can no longer hear us.’

Quote from the blog post which went viral and was subsequently developed into a book. This book and cover compelled me to pick it up. The title and cover evoke questions and invite you in.

This is a collection of essays about politics and racism in the United Kingdom. It is not a topic I am familiar with. Until now, I mostly read about racism with focus on the USA. I was intrigued.

The author started the book with the history of colonialism and slavery in Britain. It provided much-needed context and set the scene for the whole book. I understood where the author’s frustration is coming from. Such an eye-opener! Many issues are so ingrained in the fabric of society that they simply go unnoticed.

The main issues discussed are:

  • Eradicated black history
  • White dominance in politics
  • Whitewashed feminism
  • The link between class and race

There is a lot of information in this relatively short book. I felt the author’s frustration with the system on every page. This is an assertive and provocative book, and every word is essential.

The chapter about feminism was especially interesting for me. It discusses how feminism is mainly white and blind to racism.

‘Feminism is not about equality, and certainly not about silently slipping into a world of work created by and for men. Feminism, at its best, is a movement that works to liberate all people who have been economically, socially, and culturally marginalised by an ideological system that has been designed for them to fail. That means disabled people, black people, trans people, women and non-binary people, LGB people and working-class people. The idea of campaigning for equality must be complicated if we are to untangle the situation we’re in. Feminism will have won when we have ended poverty. It will have won when women are no longer expected to work two jobs (the care and emotional labour for their families as well as their day jobs) by default.’

Can you be a feminist, arguing for equality while ignoring issues like race?

The discussion about ‘white privilege’ is especially eye-opening. Being born white simply means that your skin color will positively impact your life without even noticing it. It’s scary!

‘White privilege is the fact that if you’re white, your race will almost certainly positively impact your life’s trajectory in some way. And you probably won’t even notice it.’

The text reads like a textbook at times which put me off a bit but nonetheless it is an essential book, one I will definitely plan to reread. I plan to read more nonfiction books about racism. So, once I am more familiar with the subject, I plan to reread this and hopefully I will get more out of it.

See more of the nonfiction books I have reviewed.

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