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.
I can without a doubt way that Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is one of the best nonfiction books I’ve ever read – definitely the best nonfiction book I’ve read this year. I learned so much from this book, and I’m sure that others have too. The book is based on a blog post that Reni Eddo-Lodge posted a while back, entitled exactly that. This post went viral, and in the end the author decided to expand it into an entire book – and how glad I am that she did.
The first chapter is a history of people of colour in Britain. This was particularly fascinating because I had never really read much about the history of POC in Britain – I know much more about the history of POC in the US, such as with the Civil Rights Movement. Reni Eddo-Lodge also points out how difficult it was for her to put together this narrative of history – and how under-represented it is in universities and history lessons in the UK.
The book is peppered with fascinating interviews, such as one with a white woman who is ready to do the heavy lifting of interacting with discourse about race (something that Reni Eddo-Lodge rightly says is rare). There’s another one with Nick Griffins, former leader of the BNP, who she had to interview, otherwise the book may have been libellous. It is a frankly harrowing interview, and really illustrates why she doesn’t want to talk to white people about race any further.
In my mind, one of the best chapters was that about intersectional feminism:
“When feminists can see the problem with all-male panels, but can’t see the problem with all-white television programmes, it’s worth questioning who they’re really fighting for.”
This was the chapter that made me the most uncomfortable, because I know, as a feminist who is also white, how easy it is for white feminism to shout over intersectional feminism. This is a chapter that I’m definitely going to re-read sometime soon, because she made a myriad of brilliant points that I need to keep in mind when campaigning for feminist issues.
In my mind, this is a must read, particularly for white people. We’ve got a lot of discourse to read and privilege to unpack, and this is a fantastic start.