Review: How to Be an Antiracist

Book cover to How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kendi follows up his powerhouse book, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America with this memoir and manifesto that works as a perfect pairing. While Stamped From the Beginning traces the lineage of racist, assimilationist, and anti-racist ideas from the 1600s to the present, Kendi's new book traces Kendi's intellectual history from childhood to 2018, intertwined with larger historical context and coupled with smartly contextual explanations of the types of racism he was not only encountering but perpetuating. That is the most powerful and humbling part of Kendi's work is that it is highly personal and critical of his past self as he continues to expand upon and understand how racism as part of the American legacy operates as a vile cancer spreading in nuance and explicit ways. Thus, each chapter first defines a different type of racist/anti-racist idea (body, gender, space, etc). This definition provides the backbone of the chapter as Kendi, typically, explores some aspect of his upbringing where this idea most strongly manifested and how he successfully or not so successfully navigated it. The chapter then transitions to exploring the concept more fully in relation to the event and how we can think about the concept more deeply in our day-to-day lives. At first glance, the book may not appear to be a how-to manual that the title implies and yet, through craftily weaving together his life, his research, and his ideas, Kendi delivers a book that will most definitely help readers move towards more antiracist practices.

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