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How to Be an Antiracist

(10 customer reviews)

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by Ibram X. Kendi

Synopsis

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the National Book Award–winning author of Stamped from the Beginning comes a “groundbreaking” (Time) approach to understanding and uprooting racism and inequality in our society—and in ourselves.

“The most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind.”—The New York Times

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY 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.

Praise for How to Be an Antiracist

“Ibram X. Kendi’s new book, 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 puncture the myths of a post-racial America, examining what racism really is—and what we should do about it.”Time

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About this book

337 Pages
7 - 8 Hours to read
91k Total words

Description

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the National Book Award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning comes a “groundbreaking” (Time) approach to understanding and uprooting racism and inequality in our society—and in ourselves.

“The most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind.”—The New York Times

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY 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.

Praise for How to Be an Antiracist

“Ibram X. Kendi’s new book, 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 Antiracist punctures the myths of a post-racial America, examining what racism really is—and what we should do about it.”Time


  • Random House Publishing Group; August 2019
  • ISBN: 9780525509295
  • Title: How to Be an Antiracist
  • Author: Ibram X. Kendi
  • Imprint: One World
  • Language: English

In The Press

“What do you do after you have written Stamped From the Beginning, an award-winning history of racist ideas? . . . If you’re Ibram X. Kendi, you craft another stunner of a book. . . . What emerges from these insights is the most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind, a confessional of self-examination that may, in fact, be our best chance to free ourselves from our national nightmare.”The New York Times

“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

“Ibrahim 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)


About The Author

Ibram X. Kendi is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, a professor of history, and the founding director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. He is a columnist at The Atlantic and a correspondent with CBS News. He is the author of five books including Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction; How to Be an Antiracist; Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, co-authored with Jason Reynolds; and Antiracist Baby, illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky.

Additional information

FORMAT

Hardcover, Paperback

10 reviews for How to Be an Antiracist

  1. David

    How To Be An Antiracist is a confusing, frustrating book that fails to make a convincing case that “antiracism” is the best, or even a good way to fight back against racism. It’s as if Kendi was given free reign to write whatever he wanted, and no editor ever pushed back to ask questions like “does the definition you’re proposing make sense” or “do you have any evidence to support your claim?”For example, Kendi starts out each chapter by defining a word like “racist” or “success,” supposedly in an effort to clarify things. But these definitions end up being more confusing than clarifying. Kendi’s definition of racist is, “One who is supporting a racist policy through their actions or inaction or expressing a racist idea.” He uses the word “racist” twice to define the word “racist.”Similarly, the central idea of antiracism seems to be that all racial groups are equal, and therefore, any inequality is proof of racism, and any policy that arguably contributed to that inequality is also racist. This too, does not make sense. If inequality is due to racism, how can we explain inequality within racial groups? Why do white people in one state make more money than in another state? Why do chlidren from two parent households generally do better academically than children from single parent households of the same race? Racism can’t be the answer. And Kendi rarely offers any proof that racism is the primary source of inequality between groups, let alone the only source. The book also feels overly long and highly repetitive, with Kendi driving home the same handful of points/ideas over and over again.Racism is a real problem that requires legitimate, evidence-based solutions. How To Be An Antiracist is not that. It is a half-baked philosophy that many other black academics like John McWhorter have effectively picked apart. This book will undoubtedly earn plenty of praise from other self-described “antiracists” and white people who wouldn’t dare say a critical word about a book about racism written by a black man, but the book is not convincing, nor intellectually rigorous. If you’re looking for a guide to fighting against racism, look elsewhere.

  2. DisneyDenizen

    Enlightening even for the supposedly enlightened…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.

  3. pn23

    I am a white man from an affluent family. This is quite honestly one of the best books I’ve ever read. Kendi’s writing is piercingly clear, thought provoking, and illuminating. Every white American should read this book, especially those who are troubled by racial inequality but aren’t sure what to do about it. Those with an interest in politics, philanthropy, social justice, and other topics related to building a better and more just world will benefit immensely from this book.

  4. CTski

    Another book praising victimhood. Yawn. I’ve heard it all before. The statements regarding black crime are not factual. The book has little facts and is more focused on the author’s bias opinions. Anyone who points the finger at a specific race (in pretty much all cases it’s white people) is a racist. You don’t need to read a book to know how to act like a decent human being.

  5. Read-A-Lot

    Five luminous ? ????stars! This is a bold book of reckoning. Kudos to Ibram Kendi for having the testicular fortitude to bring new ideas to the marketplace. Although antiracism isn’t necessarily a brand new idea, Kendi has placed his indelible stamp on it and will now be forever linked to it with this very important book. One of the things that impress, and is helpful in discussion and debate are clear definitions. As he did in his previous work, Stamped From The Beginning he is laborious about exactly defining the terms he uses. Readers will appreciate this as it helps to flush out clarity.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

  6. Gaiseric

    Not sure who this was written for. Definitely not intended for an audience that knows much about history or how to construct an argument. Feels like it was intended to be a sermon. Unfortunately the argumentation and style dilutes the message, which is something a great deal of the U.S. needs to hear. Kendi has the right goal, but not a very compelling way to get there.

  7. Customer

    It’s a one-sided account….opinions really, and it’s not well written at that. People turn a blind eye to blatant racism like affirmative action for example. There are too many examples to list. I’m just glad I didn’t purchase this, but rather got it from the library. Save your money and get it from the library…read it at bedtime.

  8. Jakzen

    I am an unabashed fan of Dr. Kendi’s work but I was disappointed that “How To Be An Antiracist” is not as prescriptive as the title indicates, but rather instead reads as one man’s intellectual theory on race. I applaud him for this attempt and I understand the courage it took to write it.However, his theory categorizes, and then labels, every person as either racist or antiracists as a function of how evolved their thoughts are relative to ‘his’ critical race theory. And that, in my estimation, comes off as a bit pompous. That’s not to suggest I disagree with his theory, but rather it’s delivery.I respect his right to call homophobic African Americans ‘Queer Racists,’ but methinks that kind of talk is best left in the ivory tower. On the streets, well…, let’s just say, not so much. And to say it is not pejorative to call people racists, as Kendi has suggested, strikes me as a wee bit oblivious.By creating an either/or paradigm based on his personal beliefs, Dr. Kendi’s theory is by definition polarizing. American’s are either with him or agin him. Again, this does not mean I disagree with his theory. But I think it does mean that his structure forces him to judge others as inferior to himself in order to prove his theory. And because of this, “How To Be An Antiracist”, is practically devoid of the emotional components that are required to be an antiracist.Can we build an equitable society without love, empathy, and acceptance of our fellowman? I think not. And I would suggest he doesn’t either, as evidenced by his personal story. The memoir portions of this book are replete with examples of how people in his life accepted him where they found him. And how critical their patience and love was to his understanding of not just race, but of himself. I am delighted he chose to share these largely self-critical stories with his readers. But it was disconcerting to me to have them juxtaposed with his repeated labeling of past civil rights icons as “racists”, without taking into consideration their intent.I recommend this book to anyone with a conscience. Perhaps not as strongly as I would recommend “Stamped.” But I really think a picture or coloring book based on the New Testament would be more useful in learning why someone should live and be Antiracist.

  9. Lucy Scholand

    I am surprised at the positive reviews of this book.I did not find it well written. For example, the author uses the word “racist” in defining “racist” and the word “antiracist” in defining “antiracist” (see p. 13 and throughout). I learned in fifth-grade English class that I could not use the word “equal” in a definition of “equality.” The author also uses a lot of words to describe something–often in incomplete sentences–to the point of tedium. He tells us that the doctor who did his colonoscopy was a Black woman. Should he describe her that way? Isn’t that racist and sexist?The book did not answer the question of how to be an antiracist, for me anyway. I will stick with trying to treat each person as a unique and beloved child of God.

  10. David Gaare

    I bought this book thinking I would learn a lot about racism and how racism should be dealt with in America. What this book teaches you is how screwed up America is when it comes to race relations. The author blames the problem on just what you would expect a leftist to blame it on. It seems like the author has no clue on why our big cities have many racial problems. The elected political parties that run these big cities have been in power for a long time, and yet little or no progress has been made. I will admit the author helps the reader examine himself, and this would help an individual improve his own racial biases and knowledge on the subject of race relations. However, as long as politicians and political parties promote racism to supposedly benefit election results, not much progress will be made.. Martin Luther King probably would have made great progress for America, had he lived. If we keep reelecting those who have made little or no progress with race relations in their cities, then we can expect to stay in the current situation.

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