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How to Be an Antiracist Hardcover – August 13, 2019
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“The most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind.”—The New York Times
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR—The New York Times Book Review, Time, NPR, The Washington Post, Shelf Awareness, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews
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 its 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.
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From the Publisher
Books by Ibram X. Kendi
|Be Antiracist||Four Hundred Souls||Antiracist Baby|
|Reflect on your understanding of race and discover ways to work toward an antiracist future with this guided journal from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Be an Antiracist and Stamped from the Beginning.||A "choral history" of African Americans covering 400 years of history in the voices of 90 writers, edited by the bestselling, National Book Award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi and award-winning historian Keisha N. Blain.||From the author of How to Be an Antiracist comes a picture book that empowers parents and children to uproot racism in our society and in ourselves, now with added discussion prompts to help readers recognize and reflect on bias in their daily lives.|
“How to Be an Antiracist couldn’t come at a better time. . . . Kendi has gifted us with a book that is not only an essential instruction manual but also a memoir of the author’s own path from anti-black racism to anti-white racism and, finally, to antiracism. . . . How to Be an Antiracist gives us a clear and compelling way to approach, as Kendi puts it in his introduction, ‘the basic struggle we’re all in, the struggle to be fully human and to see that others are fully human.’”—NPR
“Kendi dissects why in a society where so few people consider themselves to be racist the divisions and inequalities of racism remain so prevalent. How to Be an Antiracist punctures the myths of a post-racial America, examining what racism really is—and what we should do about it.”—Time
“Ibram Kendi is today’s visionary in the enduring struggle for racial justice. In this personal and revelatory new work, he yet again holds up a transformative lens, challenging both mainstream and antiracist orthodoxy. He illuminates the foundations of racism in revolutionary new ways, and I am consistently challenged and inspired by his analysis. How to Be an Antiracist offers us a necessary and critical way forward.”—Robin DiAngelo, New York Times bestselling author of White Fragility
“Ibram Kendi’s work, through both his books and the Antiracist Research and Policy Center, is vital in today’s sociopolitical climate. As a society, we need to start treating antiracism as action, not emotion—and Kendi is helping us do that.”—Ijeoma Oluo, author of So You Want to Talk About Race
“Ibram Kendi uses his own life journey to show us why becoming an antiracist is as essential as it is difficult. Equal parts memoir, history, and social commentary, this book is honest, brave, and most of all liberating.”—James Forman, Jr., Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Locking Up Our Own
“A boldly articulated, historically informed explanation of what exactly racist ideas and thinking are . . . [Kendi’s] prose is thoughtful, sincere, and polished. This powerful book will spark many conversations.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A combination of memoir and extension of [Kendi’s] towering Stamped from the Beginning . . . Never wavering . . . Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth. . . . This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory. . . . Essential.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“In this sharp blend of social commentary and memoir . . . Kendi is ready to spread his message, his stories serving as a springboard for potent explorations of race, gender, colorism, and more. . . . With Stamped From the Beginning, Kendi proved himself a first-rate historian. Here, his willingness to turn the lens on himself marks him as a courageous activist, leading the way to a more equitable society.”—Library Journal (starred review)
- Publisher : One World; First Edition (August 13, 2019)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0525509283
- ISBN-13 : 978-0525509288
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.93 x 1.21 x 8.43 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on August 17, 2019
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I am White. I am an immigrant. My family came to this country when I was 6 years old, by far the youngest. I learned English fluently; while you would hear the accent of my older relatives to this day, you would not know that I was not born here, that English was not my first language.
I grew up on the idea of the Great American Melting Pot. Throughout my childhood and teen years, I was always seen as the person from the country of my origin. It wasn't until my college years that I was relieved to finally be seen as simply American, from California rather than from my country of origin.
The Great American Melting Pot with its goal of assimilation made a lot of sense to me. We kept our family traditions, brought with us from the Old Country, at home. But outwardly, I wanted to fit in, to be simply American. It also made sense from an historical perspective. There was a time when Italians, Irish, Germans, and others fresh off the (literal) boat were seen as unwelcome newcomers, much as many from south of our border are sadly seen today. These European groups needed to assimilate. Imagine if Italian-Americans and German-Americans in this country had been seen as the enemy come World War II. Americans never could have come together to fight Hitler's armies or Japanese forces in the Pacific.
But you may note that I've only mentioned the assimilation of white people from Western Europe. People from China and Japan also faced persecution when they first arrived here (as no doubt did many others). The internment camps created during World War II for those of Japanese descent living in this country were a disgrace. (Please read They Called Us Enemy by George Takei.) To mention nothing of the Black or Hispanic experience of being American in this country.
What hit me hardest about this incredible book is largely summed by by the following paragraph:
“Assimilationist ideas and segregationist ideas are the two types of racist ideas, the duel within racist thought. White assimilationist ideas challenge segregationist ideas that claim people of color are incapable of development, incapable of reaching the superior standard, incapable of becoming White and therefore fully human. Assimilationists believe that people of color can, in fact, be developed, become fully human, just like White people. Assimilationist ideas reduce people of color to the level of children needing instruction on how to act. Segregationist ideas cast people of color as “animals,” to use Trump's descriptor for Latinx immigrants—unteachable after a point. The history of the racialized world is a three-way fight between assimilationists, segregationists, and antiracists. Antiracist ideas are based in the truth that racial groups are equals in all the ways they are different, assimilationist ideas are rooted in the notion that certain racial groups are culturally or behaviorally inferior, and segregationist ideas spring from a belief in genetic racial distinction and fixed hierarchy.”
I have always fancied myself to be not racist. But I can see that I have a long way to go: from assimilationist to antiracist. Even my assimilationist ideas were clearly not well thought out.
Read this book. It's eyeopening, even for those of us who consider ourselves to be enlightened.
Well written. Extensively researched, with a good deal of history, including personal and family history. Extensively footnoted. Highly readable.
And I would add, arms one against the attacks that are surely coming from all angles. I distinctly remember the debate around Afrocentricity and all the myriad ways that people defined it. The hijacking was possible because Molefi Asante possibly didn’t go deep enough in his definition of Afrocentricity, although that was later definitively corrected.
Kendi is seeking to avoid this error writing, “defining our terms so that we could begin to describe the world and our place in it. Definitions anchor us in principles......Some of my most consequential steps toward being an antiracist have been the moments when I arrived at basic definitions....So let’s set some definitions. What is racism?” Kendi having spent time in Asante’s Africology Ph.D. program at Temple University might account for some of this diligence.
We’ll come back to his definition, as that will surely become the cause of some attacks because he has dared to challenge long-held beliefs about racism, racists, and who can and cannot be considered racists. Whenever you are bold enough to offer new thoughts to the marketplace of ideas, you had better be ready for battle, and if this book is any indication Kendi is indeed ready. Alongside his guide to becoming antiracist, he offers his own personal journey which adds a personal flavor to the book and keeps it from sagging into academic boredom.
So, for Black folk it’s true that many of us have a definition of racism, that excludes Blacks from being racist, well Kendi challenges that and forces us to possibly make an adjustment to our definition. That’s going to be a tough one for sure, but his arguments here are very cogent and considering his definition of racism, quite logical.
When was the last time a book made you reconsider some defining principles? Wow! For non-Blacks, just saying well I’m ‘not racist‘ will no longer cut it. To wit, “What’s the problem with being ‘not racist’? It is a claim that signifies neutrality: ‘I am not a racist, but neither am I aggressively against racism.’ But there is no neutrality in the racism struggle. The opposite of “racist” isn’t “not racist.” It is “antiracist.” What’s the difference? One endorses either the idea of a racial hierarchy as a racist or racial equality as an antiracist.”
With chapters on Power, Biology, Class, Black, White, etc. Kendi has made a thorough attempt to spark a movement towards antiracism, that results in a world where people actively and consciously fight against racism. Is that a pipe dream? As detailed here in this text, if we accept the definitions then no, it is indeed achievable, but we must do the work and it starts with the man in the mirror. That was the first place I went after finishing this book and contemplating this new definition of racism,
“So let’s set some definitions. What is racism? Racism is a marriage of racist policies and racist ideas that produces and normalizes racial inequities. Okay, so what are racist policies and ideas?” Damn you, Kendi! What are racist policies and ideas, well you will have to get this book, READ and engage the ideas of antiracism and hopefully be on your way to becoming an Antiracist! Thanks to Netgalley and Random House Oneworld Publishing for an advanced DRC. Book will explode onto shelves Tues. August 13, 2019
Top reviews from other countries
Expect the unexpected.
Transformative. Made me rethink my own personal experience and beliefs in relation to class, gender, sexuality and disability.
Can't recommend it highly enough.
Professor Kendi’s honesty and vulnerability, from the first page, drew me right in. It is so inclusively written, as if he is speaking to each reader specifically. I have read things that have surprised me, things that have challenged me, and some that have made me wince. I have had many “Eureka” moments. Most unexpectedly, I have also felt comforted and encouraged!
In “How to Be an Antiracist”, Ibram X Kendi has written a book which manages to be not only challenging and informative, but also accessible, personal, and inspirational. I LOVE THIS BOOK!
You need to read this book, EVERYONE needs to read this book 📖!