Following the Black Lives Matter protests around the world, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race was widely recommended, and I was drawn to it because it offers a British perspective on race relations.
The book starts with history, describing the British role in the slave trade, the whitewashing of the World Wars, decades of police brutality and racial profiling, the election of the first black MPs in 1987 (including Diane Abbot), the Brixton riots and many other significant events leading up to the present day. It’s as fascinating as it is disturbing, British history is often ugly and violent but necessary to understanding racism and discrimination in the U.K.
Eddo-Lodge argues that racism is more insidious than abusive language or flag waving nationalist mobs marching, it’s the influence of people (predominantly white male) in positions of power to impact the life chances and circumstances of others. Very few white people will openly admit to being racist, yet many become defensive when confronted with evidence of white privilege.
It’s uncomfortable reading in places, the way that readers and viewers assume fictional characters are white unless otherwise described (as the furore caused when a black actress was cast as Hermoine Granger in the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, or when there was a rumour that a black actor was being considered as the new James Bond demonstrate), the backlash against intersectional feminism (black women are doubly discriminated against by being both black and female), how racism and class intersect with the idea that “white working class” are a marginalised minority that deserve support and special consideration, and how many white people ignore or accept discrimination and racism instead of challenging it.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is well-researched, thought-provoking, and a great place to start learning about systemic racism and how to be actively anti-racist. Take care, and have a lovely week. X