by Ibram X Kendi
Publishers Weekly Kendi follows his National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning with a boldly articulated, historically informed explanation of what exactly racist ideas and thinking are, and what their antiracist antithesis looks like both systemically and at the level of individual action. He weaves together cultural criticism, theory (starting each chapter with epigraph-like definitions of terms), stories from his own life and philosophical development (he describes his younger self as a "racist, sexist homophobe"), and episodes from history (including the 17th-century European debate about "polygenesis," the idea that different races of people were actually separate species with distinct origins). He delves into typical racist ideas (e.g. that biology and behavior differ between racial groups) and problems (such as colorism), as well as the intersections between race and gender, race and class, and race and sexuality. Kendi puts forth some distinctive arguments: he posits that "internalized racism is the true Black-on-Black crime," critiquing powerful black people who disparage other black people and racializing behaviors they disapprove of, and argues that black people can be racist in their views of white people (when they make negative generalizations about white people as a group, thereby espousing the racist idea that ethnicity determines behavior). His prose is thoughtful, sincere, and polished. This powerful book will spark many conversations. Agent: Ayesha Pande, Pande Literary. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Library Journal In this sharp blend of social commentary and memoir, Kendi (founder, Antiracist Research & Policy Ctr., American Univ.) expands on ideas introduced in his award-winning book, Stamped from the Beginning. Here, the author argues that segregationists believe that other races are intrinsically inferior while assimilationists believe that a poor environment has made people of different races weaker and in need of uplift. Antiracism, or the concept that all races are equal and that only racist policies keep people of color oppressed, is what we must strive for, but that's easier said than done. As a black child, Kendi watched with rage as his white teachers favored white students. At 17, he delivered a speech that bemoaned black culture, and as a college student, he took solace in the antiwhite teachings of the Nation of Islam. Finally, as a professor with an antiracist mind-set, Kendi is ready to spread his message, his stories serving as a springboard for potent explorations of race, gender, colorism, and more. VERDICT 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. [See Prepub Alert, 2/4/19.]—Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal & Library Journal
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Book list When we realize old words do not exactly and clearly convey what we are trying to describe, we should turn to new words, writes Kendi, winner of the National Book Award for Stamped from the Beginning (2016), in his memoir-with-history about confronting personal racism and embracing antiracism. Accordingly, to contextualize his experience as a Black youth, budding scholar, ethicist, and activist, he defines different kinds of racism (biological, behavioral) and describes antiracist policies and terms in light of racial strife today. While admirably fit for agitating discussion, some terms are confusing and feel labored, like Kendi's hyphenated identifiers: gender-racism, queer-racism, class-racism, space-racism. And his descriptions of his life in Queens, New York, Manassas, Virginia, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, seem structured to set himself up as proof of his sociological declaratives. (He decided to live in a poor neighborhood because he believed culture filtered upward, that Black elites, in all our materialism, individualism, and assimilationism, needed to go to the bottom' to be civilized. ) Kendi does successfully model self-examination and inspires readers to consider whether ignorance or self-interest drives racist policies into reality.--Sean Chambers Copyright 2019 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Kirkus Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award-winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.In fact, the word "woke" appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi's towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that "racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas," the author posits a seemingly simple binary: "Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas." The author, founding director of American University's Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. "Internalized racism," he writes, "is the real Black on Black Crime." Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi's life that exemplifies ite.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting "to be Black butnotto look Black"and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: "Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today." If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he's just as hard on himself. When he began college, "anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts." This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.Not an easy read but an essential one. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.