Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge is an exceptional piece of non-fiction which explores the inner workings of racism, white privilege and the way the world views these things according to a black British person. Eddo-Lodge takes many perspectives into account and acknowledges that not all white people are the problem, but more so that many do not see their own racism and privilege. I have learned so much from this book that I will apply to my life and particularly my part in a mixed-race relationship.
Eddo-Lodge begins by explaining why she has written this book; where it came from, the conversations that inspired it and how much she has spoken to white people about race since its conception. She gives an overview of black British history and provides detailed interviews with people of colour, including a mixed race woman who grew up with a white mother, former BNP leader, Nick Griffin and gives second and firsthand accounts of what it is like to grow up black in an institutionally racist society. She includes a chapter on black women in feminism, and I resonated with how many times she and others have been told that ‘their message’ isn’t what that particular group is ‘trying to achieve’. Because equality doesn’t mean the same to everybody, especially the vast majority of white people.
Why this book is so important
Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge is an incredibly important book because it does not seek to blame, patronise or demean anybody’s viewpoints on society or racism. It does not ask or expect anything of its reader except a clear, open mind and to consider that somebody else has had different experiences to them, and to hear those experiences and accept them. Eddo-Lodge is not trying to change people’s minds about race and society, but bring forward the fact that Britain is a very different place to live for black people and white people should attempt to acknowledge that. While we may never be able to fully empathise with their situations, we can at least accept that race does exist, but that it should not be seen in a negative way.
There is a section of the book which considers colour blindness; where white people say that we ‘don’t see colour’, which makes us not racist and accepting. However, not seeing colour means that we are not acknowledging the differences between us and black British people. If we don’t see colour/race, then how can we see their experiences and struggles and the ways in which their lives differ to ours. In a very basic sense, if a white person and a black person have the exact same upbringing; middle class parents, decent education, university and travel opportunities, the black person still has lived a tougher life. They will still have had to deal with racial slurs, or friends thinking that they can say certain words or phrases because of their friendship status. They will be forced to accept certain stereotypes, people talking down to them and dismissing them in favour of the nearest white person, just because they don’t fit the norm.
White people can and do struggle, but we will never face issues in the ways that black people do. We will never have people avoid us because of the colour of our skin, or people dismiss our job applications because of our difficult to pronounce names, and we must remember this. If you don’t believe that racism still happens in these ways and many more, then you are part of the problem and I love that Eddo-Lodge calls this out.
Overall, I would like every white person I know to read this book. I want them to understand the real meaning of white privilege, and what it feels like for a black person to be constantly belittled by society. I particularly want my family, especially the close ones, to read this book if only for the section on mixed race families. I want them to understand how to approach mixed children if ever my boyfriend and I get married and have children. I do not want my potential children to ever feel that they cannot find out about their culture, and experience total acceptance on both sides of the family. This book has solidified my thoughts and brought new ones to light on all of the issues listed above. I could go on about this for days, or I could ask you to go and read this book.