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Nonfiction Review: How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Title: How to be an Antiracist
Author: Ibram X. Kendi
Year Published: 2019

Genre: Adult nonfiction
Pages: 338 (plus notes and index)
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location (my 2020 Google Reading map): USA (NY, FL, PA)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Antiracism is a transformative concept that reorients and reenergizes the conversation about racism—and, even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. At it's core, racism is a powerful system that creates false hierarchies of human value; its warped logic extends beyond race, from the way we regard people of different ethnicities or skin colors to the way we treat people of different sexes, gender identities, and body types. Racism intersects with class and culture and geography and even changes the way we see and value ourselves. In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi takes readers through a widening circle of antiracist ideas—from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilities—that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their poisonous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves.

Kendi weaves an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science with his own personal story of awakening to antiracism. This is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond the awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a just and equitable society.

Review: This book is really good. What do I mean by that? Here goes....

  • Kendi is honest about his own journey of racism and confronting his own racist beliefs
  • He explains the issues behind racist policies and how they affect people in all groups
  • He weaves personal stories, history, and politics into a coherent explanation of the effects on our society by racism, sexism, classism, and more
  • He explains what it means to be an antiracist and acknowledges how difficult it is to be the one to speak up and speak out
  • I found myself nodding my head, underlining sections, and saying, "Oh, that explains it!" out loud as I read
This is not an easy book to read in that it makes the reader consider his/her own actions and thoughts, but that's the best thing about it. It makes me want to be a better ally for a number of groups, to be an accomplice (as one colleague stated), and to be braver about speaking out when I see injustice of any kind. I've been better about this recently, but want to be even bolder.

Challenges for which this counts: 


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