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

Hardcover, 249 pages
Published June 1st 2017 by Bloomsbury Circus
Source: Raincoast Books

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is an unflinching look at race politics everywhere but localized, especially, in England where the author is from. Here’s the official synopsis:

In 2014, award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote about her frustration with the way that discussions of race and racism in Britain were being led by those who weren’t affected by it. She posted a piece on her blog, entitled: ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’.

Her words hit a nerve. The post went viral and comments flooded in from others desperate to speak up about their own experiences. Galvanised by this clear hunger for open discussion, she decided to dig into the source of these feelings.

Exploring issues from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance, whitewashed feminism to the inextricable link between class and race, Reni Eddo-Lodge offers a timely and essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge and counter racism. It is a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary exploration of what it is to be a person of colour in Britain today.

The first essay in the book reads somewhat like a history lesson. It focuses on black history in England. It is a history full of blood and discrimination and one, interestingly enough, not given as much thought or exposure (in my experience) as American Black history. Eddo-Lodge speaks about not being taught this part of British history. The point is: the erasure starts early.

In Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, Eddo-Lodge clearly and concisely lays down the foundation for her premise, introduced readers to systemic discrimination and goes into personal details about its effects. She talks about white privilege and “the fear of a black planet” before she talks about intersectional feminism. She ends the books with an essay that discusses race and class. Her points are clear; her passion is loud; and her frustration at a world that seems not to hear what is being screamed at the world paramount.

Eddo-Lodge discusses how mentions of the words ‘racist’ and ‘white privilege’ immediately has people who NEED to be discussing these things closing ranks and acting as if the labels are much worse than the actions they describe. I particularly liked this point made in the essay “The Feminism Question.” In a response to some man calling women “easy meat,” Eddo-Lodge writes:

In gender relations, ‘meat’ strips women of basic bodily autonomy, asserting that we are only ever on the menu, and never at the table.

*claps*

At this point in time, books like Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is beyond important. To be clear, the book doesn’t espouse a halt to all discussion about race between POC and White people. It just aims to underline the difficulties on doing so when one side is determined not to hear what the other is saying. The side that can direct the narrative; the side on whom the onus for action falls.

I recommend this book if you want to understand some of the conversation currently occurring concerning race politics in England and to an extent America.