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


A great and powerful read. A hard read. And a must read. 

To paraphrase the many white men and women who have reached out to Eddo-Lodge, "Don't give up on us." Even though, sometimes, I want to.

Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race

"Their (white people) intent is often not to listen or learn, but to exert their power, to prove me wrong, to emotionally drain me, and to rebalance the status quo (pg xii).

Racism is "about being in the position to negatively affect other people's life chances (pg 2).

"If all racism was easy to spot, grasp, and denounce as white extremism is, the task of the anti-racist would be simple. People feel that if a racist attack has not occurred, or the word 'nigger' has not been uttered, an action can't be racist. If a black person hasn't been spat at in the street, or a suited white extremist politician hasn't lamented the lack of British jobs for British workers, it's not racist (and if the suited politician has said that, then the racism of his statement will be up for debate, because it's not racist to want to protect your country!) - pg 63. 

This is what structural racism looks like. It is not just about personal prejudice, but the collective effects of bias. It is the kind of recism that has the power to drastically impact people's life chances. Highly educated, high-earning white men are very likely to be landlords, bosses, CEOs, head teachers, or university vice chancellors. THey are almost certainly people in positions that influence others' lives. They are almost certainly the kind of people who set work-place cultures. They are unlikely to boast about their politics with colleagues or acquaintances because of the social stigma of being associated with racist views. But their racism is covert. it doesn't manifest itself in spitting at strangers in the street. Instead, it lies in an apologetic smile while explaining to an unlucky soul that they didn't get the job. It manifests itself in the flick of a wrist that tosses a CV in a bin because the applicant has a foreign-sounding name (pg 65). 

This quote reminded me of LaDonna, "A security guard at the airport notices something going wrong on the tarmac, and takes it upon herself to fix it. It’s way harder than she expects." It's a podcast hosted by This American Life. And it is fully disturbing. 

"In order to dismantle unjust, racist structures, we must see race. We must see who benefits from their race, who is disproportionately impacted by negative stereotypes about their race, and to who power and privilege is bestowed upon - earned or not - because of their race, their class, and their gender. Seeing race is essential to changing the system (pg 84). 

White privilege is an absence of the negative consequences of racism . . . is the fact that if you're white, your race will almost certainly positively impact your life's trajectory in some way (pg 86,87). 

The difference between racism and prejudice is that racism IS being prejudice, plus power (pg 88,89).

What if Hermione's character was black? "It brings to light the incredibly racialised language of blood purity used in the wizarding world, of mudbloods and purebloods. This is terminology that could have been easily lifted straight from Nazi Germany or apartheid South Africa. Hermione's parents were muggles after all, and that is how states and scientists have categorized race and fueled racism - as through lineage and blood. A black or mixed-race Hermione enduring spat-out slurs of 'mudblood' from he peers, plucked from her parents, told she's special and part of a different race altogether, might be very keen to assimilate, to be accepted. No wonder she tried so hard. No wonder she did her friend's homework, and was first to raise her hand in class. She was the model minority . . .
That some Harry Potter fans struggled to imagine a black Hermione meant that they couldn't imagine little black girls as precocious, intelligent, logical know-it-alls with hearts of gold . . . The imaginations of black Hermione's detractors can stretch to the possibility of a secret platform at King's Cross station that can only be accessed by running through a brick wall, they can't stretch to a black central character" (pg 138,139). 

"There is an old saying about man's homophobia being rooted in a fear that gay men will treat him as he treats women" (pg 141). The same can probably be said about our racism.