BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi [in Booklist]

“I used to be a racist most of the time,” insists Ibram X. Kendi, a surprising revelation from 2016’s winner for the National Book Award for Nonfiction (Stamped from the Beginning). “The opposite of ‘racist’ isn’t ‘not racist,’” he explains. “It is ‘antiracist’… There is no in-between safe space of ‘not racist.’ The claim of ‘not racist’ neutrality is a mask for racism.”

Kendi’s impassioned presentation as he makes his aural debut here is palpable – and infectious. He narrates with distinct rhythmic phrasing, with pauses for emphasis, although seemingly not breathing when reciting particularly detailed longer sentences. Kendi opens each chapter with definitions of a type of racism and its opposite – gender racism and gender antiracism, for example – and incorporates personal experiences with corresponding historical/social context and pertinent antiracist antidotes. Supported by diligent, insightful research, Kendi challenges and dismantles privilege, immigration policies, crime statistics, achievement gaps, and all manner of power structures, always turning the mirror first on himself.

As the founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research & Policy Center in Washington, DC, and the inaugural instigator in April 2019 of the National Antiracist Book Festival, Kendi lives what he writes. “We know how to be a racist. We know how to pretend to be not racist. Now let’s know how to be antiracist.” Recommended – no, required – reading for all.

Review: “Media,” Booklist, October 15, 2019

Published: 2019

Readers: Young Adult, Adult



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