If you read only one non-fiction book this year, this should be the book you choose. I read a lot of books but I have never read anything like this before.
Kendi is a noted scholar in the field of history and anti-racism. This book is the result of years of his own study and life experience but it’s also a demolition of everything I thought I understood about race and racism. And I mean that in the best way, not the white-lady-having-a-twee-epiphany way.
I simply cannot explain what this book actually says because it is such an intricate remaking of what is possible when looking at race that the only way to understand it is to read the book itself.
I know. That’s the most annoying thing anyone can write about a book and yet here I am. Writing it.
The section that I keep coming back to is his chapter on race and spaces. The quick and dirty synopsis of his thinking is that integration does not “improve” people of color. Instead, it implicitly devalues Black spaces by suggesting that the existing white spaces are better and everyone would be better off in them.
This made sense to me at a gut level because I know how I feel about the value of being in spaces with only other women. I take something from those spaces that is meaningful and that I don’t get in integrated spaces. The culture of women-only spaces is important and not worse than spaces men occupy as well.
But this is a dangerous thing to say because it immediately opens the door to a snarky “Oh, so separate but equal?” retorts. To which all I can do is howl wordlessly before admitting that I’m saying it wrong and you just need to go read this book because Kendi explains it in a way that makes perfect sense.
Really, read this book, Don’t rush it, I spent over a month reading it in pieces. It’s a lot to digest but it’s mind-blowing. Every page or so, I wanted to take a photo of a paragraph and share it with everyone I know because it is just that good.