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Book Review: How to Be an Antiracist

A Martin Luther King Jr. Day Read. Review by Meilee Anderson

I confess, I’m not comfortable talking about racism, but not talking about it won’t make it go away. Recent events drove me to study, learn, and listen to new perspectives on the topic. It feels important to ask ourselves questions and have conversations, even if it’s uncomfortable. After reading the book White Fragility by Robin DeAngelo I dove into the New York Times Bestseller How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram Kendi.

Over the course of two weeks, I listened to the audiobook, narrated by the author. The audiobook is 11 hours long. It took me a long time to get through How to Be an Antiracist, the content isn’t difficult what took me so long was that I found the implications of the information overwhelming. The author’s tone was passionate, pleading with the reader to listen and understand.

how to be antiracist, book review

How to Be an Antiracist covers the history of racism and racist ideas, plus insights into the Civil Rights movement and so much more. Kendi cites specific examples of how the economy, housing, education, legal system, politics, and more are affected by racism. He uses case studies, court cases, and statistics. He leans on history, science, the law, and ethics to make his points. Kendi also bares his soul and talks about his personal experiences grappling with racism. He shares stories of his parents, his school years, and what it was like doing the research for his writing. The book feels part memoir and part college-level class on the subject.

I never thought about the flavors of racism before. There were some chapters I found challenging that discussed Biological antiracist and Cultural Antiracist. I don’t normally spend time thinking about hierarchies of human value in society or systemic racism. I hesitate to admit that but the more I read, the more I listen, the more I see. Awareness is a good thing, but now what?

For the past several weeks racial equality has been a constant thrum in my head. As a result of reading this book, my perception has grown. I can see how people can hold racist ideas about color, gender, culture, and sexual identity. I see how important it is that we resist apathy and pursue a society that seeks racial equality and justice.

I’ve been wrestling with the question “I see the problem, but now what?” One of the quotes that stood out to me addresses this question.

“The only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it-and then dismantle it.” Ibram X. Kendi

This book includes specific action steps we can take to be an antiracist. I have more work to do. We all do. We can do hard things. I have more studying ahead of me. I hope you’ll join me on my pursuit. My next review will be on “The Fire This Time” by Jesmyn Ward.

Check out my review of White Fragility here.

Buy it: Here At Barns & Noble

Author’s Bio: Here

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Meilee Anderson
Meilee Anderson
A marketing consultant by day, avid reader most nights. To say she’s a voracious reader is an understatement. Meilee completed the 2020 Tacoma Extreme Reading Challenge (50 books in 50 weeks) by March 31. When she doesn’t have her nose in a book Meilee can be found exploring the PNW with her husband, kids, and menagerie.