Wednesday 26 August 2020

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, Renni Eddo-Lodge

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Eddo-Lodge’s bestselling discussion of racism in Britain jumped to the top of the charts once more with the recent prominent protests of the Black Lives Matter movement. It takes an uncompromising look at race relations in Britain today, giving sound evidence for the structural racism that permeates every aspect of society. It is an uncomfortable but important read.

It opens with a discussion of the history of racism in a country that deludes itself into thinking it doesn’t have a problem with race. Some of the facts I was familiar with but continue to be astounded by, such as that it was the slave owners who were compensated when slavery was abolished rather than those who had been enslaved. I was horrified to discover the frequency and brutality of lynchings of people of colour throughout the twentieth century. ‘…looking at our history shows that racism does not erupt from nothing, rather it is embedded in British society. It’s not external. It’s in the system.’

The troublesome history of racism in Britain is followed by an examination of the current disadvantages faced by people of colour. It soon becomes apparent that throughout every stage of life black people are disadvantaged by racism, whether conscious or otherwise. That black students are generally marked down by teachers and only receive their true grade in anonymous examinations is particularly relevant in the midst of the current grades debacle cause by the pandemic. The book leaves you with no doubt that claims that we live in a meritocracy are entirely unfounded, which brings us on to the push-back against positive discrimination and attempts to make recruitment processes less biased. It’s common to hear cries of unfairness when attempts to even out the playing field are made. Indeed, even those pushing for more gender and class equality often seem to falter when the same arguments are made about race.

This book will open your eyes to discrimination you may never have noticed unless you were on the receiving end, making you reassess the current state of Britain. An important book that I plan to revisit so as not to lose sight of how far we still need to go. It will spark conversations, often uncomfortable, to help deepen our understanding and realise that silence is complicity.

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