How to Be an Antiracist Book Summary - How to Be an Antiracist Book explained in key points
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How to Be an Antiracist summary

Ibram X. Kendi

A groundbreaking approach to understanding and uprooting racism and inequality in our society

4.2 (255 ratings)
24 mins

Brief summary

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi is a powerful personal and historical account that challenges readers to understand and dismantle racism, and to strive towards actively being antiracist in all aspects of life.

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    How to Be an Antiracist
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    Antiracists know racial inequality is fuelled by racist policies.

    In 2019, racial justice seems to be going backward. Just take a look at Donald Trump, the President of the United States, who reportedly once declared that “Laziness is a trait in Blacks.” During his election campaign, Trump also described Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals. 

    Clearly, our age demands that decent people stand up against the racism that permeates every level of our society. And the first question to ask yourself is: Are you a racist – or an antiracist? 

    What do we mean by these terms and how does the author define them? 

    A racist is someone who communicates ideas that are racist or who supports racist policies, either actively or by being apathetic. A racist idea is one that posits any racial group as being better or worse than another, either biologically, culturally, or in any other respect – for example, when Thomas Jefferson declared that African Americans were “inferior to the whites in the endowments of both body and mind.” 

    Racist policy is any law, process or rule that creates racial inequity. Racial inequity is when some sort of inequality exists between racial groups. For example, in 2014, only 41 percent of African American families owned their homes, compared to just over 70 percent of white families. Arguably, policies that are neutral or nonracist don’t exist, as every policy creates or maintains either racial equity or inequity. 

    Importantly, in a racist society, it is typically the racist policies that are implemented first, usually because they benefit the racist policymakers in some way. The racist ideas come afterward and are used by the racist policymaker to explain and justify the resulting racial inequity. 

    For instance, the very concept of race did not exist until the fifteenth century, when Portugal began trading enslaved Africans. Decades later, the idea of a "Black race" was born, and the Portuguese propagated the notion that people of this race were inherently lazy and savage, and therefore needed to be "saved." Thus, the self-interested racist policy came first and the racist idea that justified it came afterward. 

    An antiracist policy is one that promotes equity among racial groups. Crucially, an antiracist policy may positively discriminate to achieve greater equity – and this is not racist. For instance, affirmative action programs, introduced in the US in the 1960s, have sometimes been called racist for favoring African American job applicants. But this type of initiative promotes greater racial equality and thus is not racist. In other words, positive discrimination based on race is not necessarily racism. Lastly, an antiracist idea is one that believes racial groups will always be equal and that they have neither good nor bad qualities, regardless of any ostensible differences. 

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    What is How to Be an Antiracist about?

    How to be an Antiracist (2019) explores the causes of and solutions to the racism that plagues our societies. Drawing on his own experiences as well as political and historical insights, the author shines a light on what he argues is a truly antiracist perspective and explains how you can effect change in an unjust world. 

    How to Be an Antiracist Review

    How To Be An Antiracist (2019) by Ibram X. Kendi is a powerful examination of racism and antiracism in today's society. Here's why this book is a must-read:

    • It provides a comprehensive understanding of racism, its manifestations, and the actions needed to combat it.
    • The book combines personal experiences, historical context, and scholarly research, offering a multi-faceted perspective.
    • Its actionable advice empowers readers to actively challenge racism in their own lives and communities.

    Become a part of the solution by reading How To Be An Antiracist.

    Best quote from How to Be an Antiracist

    Racism is a marriage of racist policies and racist ideas that produces and normalizes inequities. 

    —Ibram X. Kendi
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    Who should read How to Be an Antiracist?

    • Anyone who cares about social justice
    • Those who want to change the world
    • Political individuals looking for fresh insights

    About the Author

    Ibram X. Kendi is an American author and academic. His book Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America won the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction. Kendi is the founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University.

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    How to Be an Antiracist FAQs 

    What is the main message of How To Be An Antiracist?

    The main message of How To Be An Antiracist is understanding racism and actively fighting against it in our daily lives.

    How long does it take to read How To Be An Antiracist?

    The estimated reading time for How To Be An Antiracist is around 7-9 hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in 15 minutes.

    Is How To Be An Antiracist a good book? Is it worth reading?

    How To Be An Antiracist is a thought-provoking exploration of racism and a guide to actively fighting against it.

    Who is the author of How To Be An Antiracist?

    The author of How To Be An Antiracist is Ibram X. Kendi.

    How many chapters are in How To Be An Antiracist?

    How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi has 18 chapters:
    1. Definitions
    2. Dueling Consciousness
    3. Power
    4. Biology
    5. Ethnicity
    6. Body
    7. Culture
    8. Behavior
    9. Color
    10. White
    11. Black
    12. Class
    13. Space
    14. Gender
    15. Sexuality
    16. Failure
    17. Success
    18. Survival

    How many pages are in How To Be An Antiracist?

    How To Be An Antiracist has approximately 320 pages.

    When was How To Be An Antiracist published?

    How To Be An Antiracist was published in 2019.

    What to read after How to Be an Antiracist?

    If you're wondering what to read next after How to Be an Antiracist, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Just Work by Kim Scott
    • Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi
    • White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
    • The Person You Mean to Be by Dolly Chugh
    • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
    • Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
    • The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
    • The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee
    • Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
    • Getting Past Your Past by Francine Shapiro