• Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race

  • By: Reni Eddo-Lodge
  • Narrated by: Reni Eddo-Lodge
  • Length: 5 hrs and 53 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (1,764 ratings)

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Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race

By: Reni Eddo-Lodge
Narrated by: Reni Eddo-Lodge
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Publisher's Summary

"I couldn't have a conversation with white folks about the details of a problem if they didn't want to recognise that the problem exists. Worse still was the white person who might be willing to entertain the possibility of said racism but still thinks we enter this conversation as equals. We didn't then, and we don't now." 

In February 2014, Reni Eddo-Lodge posted an impassioned argument on her blog about her deep-seated frustration with the way discussions of race and racism in Britain were constantly being shut down by those who weren't affected by it. She gave the post the title 'Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race'. Her sharp, fiercely intelligent words hit a nerve, and the post went viral, spawning a huge number of comments from people desperate to speak up about their own similar experiences. 

Galvanised by this response, Eddo-Lodge decided to dive into the source of these feelings, this clear hunger for an open discussion. The result is a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary exploration of what it is to be a person of colour in Britain today, covering issues from eradicated black history to white privilege, the fallacy of 'meritocracy' to whitewashing feminism, and the inextricable link between class and race. Full of passionate, personal and keenly felt argument, Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race is a wake-up call to a nation in denial about the structural and institutional racism occurring in our homes. 

©2017 Bloomsbury (P)2017 Audible, Ltd

What listeners say about Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race

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In truth, I don't have THAT particular privilege

What did you love best about Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race?

I loved the author's power and passion about the subject. There is no doubt that she is sincere in her beliefs. I concur with nearly everything she presents here, save for a few flights of speculative fancy and the citing of some extremist views as mainstream. But as a white American male, I recognize that I am a guest in Ms. Eddo-Lodge's realm here, and respect the chance to hear ideas and learn from sources previously unknown to me.

I acknowledge the privilege I enjoy. My personal morality is based on that recognition and respecting that it is not universal. I have alienated family and friends with this worldview, and have done so without remorse. And I continue, at every chance, to chastise, scold, and occasionally, if I'm lucky, educate those who speak, hint or embolden racist ideas. Hence, the headline. It is my duty, and I accept it.

I don't write this to present myself as one of the "good ones", and to be honest, it doesn't overly concern me if Ms. Eddo-Lodge likes or respects me. I've taken my responsibility, and she's taken hers. I believe these are both positive steps, and I think she'd agree.

What other book might you compare Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race to and why?

I won't list them, but this is much better than many books of this type. She pulls no punches and makes her case. My only, cautious, exception is to the occasional supposition, perhaps unintentionally, of a monolithic black view. She acknowledges differences, primarily American and British, and even, ever so slightly, her own shortcomings. But it never descends to into victimhood.

Have you listened to any of Reni Eddo-Lodge’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

It's the only book on Audible by her, but I'd be more than willing to listen to anything else she may produce.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes and, in fact, I did. It was refreshing to hear a reasoned, quite determined, presentation of views. All too often these kinds of discussions are grotesque shouting matches.

Any additional comments?

The author mentions the origins of the term "white skin privilege", but I thought it was useful to mention that term had started to gain momentum in 1999 and 2000, in the person of Bill Bradley, a presidential candidate (who lost the Democratic primary to Al Gore, who subsequently "lost" to George W. Bush in the general election). It seemed like a fair compromise which gave white people the opportunity to take a step back and see the big picture without immediately acknowledging complicity in active racism. It didn't seem to take, though.

Also, I'm curious whether the author didn't know, or didn't care, to give Public Enemy the credit for the name she gave to her worldview. It was a huge album back in '90.

28 people found this helpful

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Jesus took the wheel...

and chauffeured Ms. Eddo-Lodge through a dynamic thought-provoking yet humbling piece of work. This book challenges you to challenge the idea of what 'normal' is. Whether it relates to race, sex, or gender and the intersectionality of it all. Bravo!

15 people found this helpful

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well read, but nothing new here.

boilerplate race conflict theory. backed up with conjecture and cherry picked history. Reni is a very good writer and narrator though. I think she took an honest attempt at an incredibly difficult and nebulous topic. worth a read our listen

10 people found this helpful

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Clear, comprehensive, British

Well researched with clear guidance, simply written and easily understood, free from activist jargon and therefore wonderfully accessible. Utterly thought provoking. A must read. Particularly poignant if you grew up in Britain during the 80’s as I did. I can’t recommend this book enough.

9 people found this helpful

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Great study and insight on racism

This books does an excellent job of showing the history and structures of racism that exist beyond the American struggle. A must read to learn about race in the UK

7 people found this helpful

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awkwardnora

It helped me frame the ideas that I had into way that I could discuss with others. definitely recommend it.

6 people found this helpful

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ACCURATE

Finally! Someone has put into words how I feel. She is an AWESOME writer and narrator. Looking forward to more from her.

5 people found this helpful

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Essential enlightening listening

Never have I come across a book that so succinctly lays out the context for racism in the UK.

will be giving this multiple listens. as this might as well be set as a taught text !

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Thumbs Up from a White American

I finished listening to the Audible recording moments ago, and now I’m ordering a hardcopy so I can interact with the text, delve into the numerous quotable quotes and sit with the zingers. It’s that good.

I thought the book might not resonate with me since the first chapter is about the *British* history of racial injustice, and I’m an American. But as I listened, I found a disturbingly similar story to the one I’m familiar with. The current parallels between our countries are also undeniable, as the rest of the book shows.

The author illuminates modern inequality with precision and heart, using her own experience as well as data to paint a picture that is invisible to so many people.

Read or listen, and become part of the solution.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting, but aggressive.

It was very engaging to hear about racism in another country and how many parallels we share. I did find many of the author's statements true, but aggressively conveyed. However, some points were just pandering over-generalizations about majority populations. Those are what made it hard for me to fully embrace this novel. A valuable expose of a shared experience, nonetheless.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Joaquin
  • 09-11-18

Flagrant Racism Posing as Social Justice

I was recommended this book by a great Nigerian friend I’ve know since I was 16. Given nature of the title, I was ambivalent but decided to give it a go all the same. I did my best to engage the book in good faith, giving the author credit when she made good points, and not strawmanning those with which I disagreed (however strongly).

Here is the crux of my problem with this book. Eddo-Lodge frames her argument in such a way that it’s impossible for a “white” person to have an honest disagreement with any of her premises without reinforcing them, i.e. “See? You just don’t get it because you’re white. You just proved my point”. It’s the intellectual equivalent of “You’re in denial”, “Why are you so defensive?”, or “You always want to have the last word” (or even the classic last resort that Christian fundamentalists use when confronted with a good faith argument, “That’s exactly what Satan would say”). In other words, if there is no possible good faith retort that wouldn’t reinforce the very point of contention in the eyes of the other person (e.g. “I’m not in denial”, “I’m not defensive”, “I don’t always want to have the last word” etc.) you have rendered your inoculated your argument against criticism. This is the sign of a bad argument, not a good one.

Incidentally, I’m Hispanic, I have lived in three continents, have belonged to both the majority and the minority group for years at a stretch, and as the latter have experienced prejudice, profiling, and discrimination, as well as immense privilege, and whether I’m “white” depends on who you ask, where and when. The fact that my life story doesn’t fit neatly into Eddo-Lodge’s essentialist picture of “white” people gives me a different perspective on many of the issues she raises, and no doubt some of my disagreements (but also some agreements) are born out of that. However, my gripe with the the book is deeper than that the sum of my experiences.

In analytic philosophy you’re taught to detect both the explicit premises stated in an argument and the tacit premises that underpin them. The latter are the unstated assumptions that would have to be true in order for the explicit premises to make sense. Generally, the more assumptions there are, the more vulnerable the argument is. Eddo-Lodge’d book is laden with such assumptions, generalisations, and rather embarrassingly for a supposed anti-racism activist, essentialist claims about race.

This is not to say that there isn’t also some sharp analysis of the issue of racism in modern Britain, but it’s undermined rather than strengthened by her style of argument, which is a shame given the real need to address racism across multiple levels of society.

I’m frustrated by a glaring contradiction in her book that she seems to be oblivious to. This is, on the one hand, the notion presented in her last chapter that the conversation about race will be necessarily messy and uncomfortable, and that we should overcome that in order to address racism. Yet, on the other hand, she tells readers only talk to people who already agree with them about these issues, and confirms this in her own experience of breaking out of white feminist circles simply because of their disagreements with her. In others words, we are at once implored to have a “messy conversation” while seeking out and remaining inside echo chambers, avoiding confrontation with opposing view points. The whole point of a messy conversation is that, by nature, there will be uncomfortable disagreements, and you should be prepared to face them, not run away because you “can’t be bothered with white people”.

The climax of this diatribe is in equal parts depressing as it is dangerous. Don’t seek unity, she says. Power must be taken by force, and there is no end in sight to the struggle, so don’t bother asking me about what my goal is. Doing so, according to her, will only confirm her suspicions that you are not a genuine advocate of progress but instead would rather just put a lid on the whole racism thing and continue to sweep it under the rug. This type of rhetoric has echoes of the Communist Manifesto, and has more in common with a Malcom X than with Martin Luther King (the latter’s call to judge people by the content of their character rather than by the colour of their skin derided early on in the book).

Her worldview, seemingly born out of Marxist conflict theory, is not just incompatible with dialogue, but positively hostile to it. In her eyes, the liberals flying the flag of Martin Luther King are more dangerous to her movement than the BNP because while the former are a stifling and insidious form of opposition, at least you know where you stand with the latter.

When this is the style of argument invoked, there is no possible disagreement that could be seen as being in good faith. Every bad argument I protest against is merely a confirmation of her original view. Forget the fact that black intellectual heavyweights such as Glenn Loury, Thomas Sowell and Coleman Hughes also disagree with her views vehemently.

Despite occasional citings of research, this is not a scholarly book. It is a political manifesto written by an activist. The lazy argumentation, strawmanning of opposing views and outright calls for echo chambers that reinforce
– rather than challenge – confirmation bias demonstrates this. If you’re looking for sharp political theory, this is the wrong book. Anyone from Russeau to Rawls or Nozick would be more appropriate. If what you’re after is the writings of a radical political activist á la Owen Jones, you’re in the right place.

With that said, and in spite of the low rating (mostly due to quality rather than content) I still recommend people read it. The reason is that it’s important to familiarise oneself with this style of argument, particularly as it gains prevalence in schools, universities, the media, and increasingly, mainstream society (particularly on the Left). If you can borrow the book from someone, do so. If your only choice is to purchase it, I still begrudgingly recommend you do it.

Next I plan to read “Brit(ish)” by Afua Hirsch, which deals with similar issues but which (given what I’ve seen of her on TV) I hope will be more carefully argued.

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  • Dan norman
  • 04-03-20

cherry picked science to fulfill a narrative

the performance was good and the book ws very well written which kept be engaged throughout. it gave me insights into other views but also used language and data that was used was very biased to side with the author's narrative which seemed extremely inflammatory and bitter.

479 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-18-20

It sees what it wants to see...

Beyond the dreadful, ideological slant of the title, be wary of those who claim to know what your beliefs are, and who interview Nick Griffin thinking there is something broadly representative about his views.
Race is as ever an important issue, and further division isn't what is required in order to address it, which may be an outcome of this unfortunate and recklessly provocative read. There is undoubtedly racism in British culture, and it exists in many different areas, but there is also anti-racism in the culture, and the antagonism between the two is where the culture has been for some time, making, dare I say it, progress. This is not the vision of the book. Britain seems a morally bleak place,unrepentant about its past and unable to move forward in a meaningful way. I stuck with the book until the end, curious about whether any sense of nuance was coming, and curious to know why so many people had praised the book. The nuance did not come and the book is at times painfully reductionist. I did however, gain some sympathy for the waving off of dialogue alluded to in the title. It would be very difficult to have a conversation with someone who believes they know everything about you as a result of your skin colour.

413 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-28-20

I have it a chance as ethnic minority myself..

You know what being from ethnic minority in Britain myself I gave her a chance and read the whole book but I in no way can agree with the nonsense. I don't believe you can just come to someone else's country and expect to make it what YOU want.
Some clever thought in there.
And on feminism? what a bunch of.. no in some cultures sexism is indeed a widely spread problem and you dont want around. you cant patronise me by saying "it's nothing to do with race or culture" because I'm from that kind of culture myself. I left to this country and dont all for not letting dangerous sexist in. yes deportation will resolve the issue massively.

401 people found this helpful

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  • Miss O
  • 06-16-20

A Terrible Disappointment

A book littered with blatant contradictions driven by nothing more than ideology. A wasted opportunity.

294 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-23-20

Monologue comes to mind.

Lots of statements of sometimes questionable facts. Hoped to learn something but failed. Missing dialogue.

282 people found this helpful

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  • vishalanand
  • 06-20-20

Rambling and Incoherent

Hooked in by the title only to be disappointed. Unsure whether it is trying to be a piece of academic work or the authors experience in the form of new age word salad . The outcome is poor either way.

214 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-10-20

Interesting listen. But very one sided.

She makes some interesting points. Overall it was a worth while listen.

She should however rename the book. Why I no longer talk to people about topics they dont 100% agree with me on.

She has her opinion which is fine, but should open her mind up and not berate others that dont agree with her. Like her poor friend that was criticised for not enjoying the black history lectures. I wonder whether she still speaks to her.

She also has an obsession with identity boxing people.

She looks at her own failures and points the finger at others for this.

Alot of the book is a rant about why she is unhappy about her achievements.

193 people found this helpful

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  • GP88
  • 06-24-20

really didn't like this

First book I haven't finished in a decade. Lecturing, biased and overcomplicated, I was looking for facts & reccommendations, counters even. Could I have my token back please

164 people found this helpful

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  • Myles
  • 06-26-20

Doesn't deserve the hype.

A shockingly bigoted book. A rant rather than an honest study of the society in which we live.

157 people found this helpful

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  • M. Jonsson
  • 06-29-18

An educational experience for white people

I’ve never really thought about the black history of England before, probably because I’m Australian so I’m more focused on the black history of Australia.

This book made me realise it’s not enough just to be anti-racist, I’ve got to take anti-racist action whenever possible. Notice things and say something. Make changes where I can affect change.

At times I felt guilt or denial when listening and i had to check myself and my attitudes. There is always room for improvement.

Thanks for writing this book, Reni.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Kangarucci 2021
  • 09-27-17

A first step

I am a white man with an honours degree in history that focused on the colonial experience of Australian Aborigines. I thought I knew about race. But this book shows me that though I have taken the first step, it is only the first step of a one thousand mile march.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Rights21
  • 05-08-18

Recommended

I admire Reni for being so open and honest about her struggle with the denial that goes on about racism and how we as a society and as a race (white people) don't want to take ownership of our attitudes and perceptions, that have been handed down to us. I would like to say that here in Australia we don't have that kind of thing but that is not the case at all, and trying to get people to admit that the casual jib about another race or minority group was not OK is like trying to shove shit up a hill, so I can't even imagine how much harder it must be for people of the actual group to try to get people to see reason.

It only seems to be getting worse at the moment as politicians point the blame for their F ups onto minority groups that look different and have a different experience, and it is happening all around the world. So we need this conversation now, but it is also becoming more dangerous to bring it up and be the one trying to expose the ugly hidden side of our social structures. And the more people take up the blame the more and more minority groups are targeted and the more and more people are in danger. This is something that people of color have had to deal with for a very long time, the fear of losing a loved one to some random act of fear induced hatred. It is something they shouldn't have to live with, we all deserve to live our lives without fear of being targeted.

Of the book it's self it was well written and flowed naturally. Hearing Reni read out some of the interviews she had was disturbing, for several reasons but it really dose point out how the "freedom" of speech is being used and abused when people are refusing to listen to rational requests. The disparity between races on the actual freedom to speak is horrendous enough but it shows that we have more than just a problem with race and otherness (or strangers as people from different backgrounds were labeled), we have a massive problem with perception, and also with our understanding of what things like freedom of speech actually mean.

So basically it was very eye opening. I also had no idea that people in Britten were largely unaware of their part in the history of slavery. Having grown up knowing a little bit about it I took it for granted that they would also know about it. I have read a few reviews criticizing this book for not being more well researched or for only being a headline grabber but that is not what this book is. It is the pent up frustration boiling up and it is a conversation starter. This book is about the experiences of the author and how the color of her skin and the bias of the social structure of the society she was born into affecting her life experiences. It is about being open and honest and about opening peoples eyes to the problems we face as a community.

Um if you have managed to get this far, I recommend the book if that wasn't clear.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-25-18

Thank you.

This book is informative and has helped develop my vocabulary when speaking on the topic of racism. The author has taken the time to educate and put words to concepts I have felt but been unable to articulate, for which I am grateful.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Sophie
  • 02-01-18

Good, but repetitive.

I’m a white person so this book was never going to be an easy read, but it is an essential read. For everyone. It’s also hard to review something that doesn’t call for my opinion on it. This is not like other books where I can say they are good or bad, enjoyable or not. It’s not even about if I agree with it or not.

It’s not a comfortable feeling having these issues laid out on the page in front of you. But this isn’t about me, it’s about a wider societal problem. Very important to keep that in mind when reading - Eddo-Lodge is not attacking me so I shouldn’t get defensive. But she is criticising something I’m a part of by default and recognising my part in that is critical to coming away from this with positivity and not despondency or frustration. Because I think it is positive overall, despite the title that on the surface seems like the author has given up. She hasn’t - she’s just pointing out that the conversation itself, and those who participate in it, needs changing.

The biggest take away for me, and perhaps what Eddo-Lodge meant with the title, is that it’s not up to others to educate us. I need to do that myself by really hearing what those who have actually experienced racism, both in the everyday and as part of the structure of Western society. In this case, as a white person, it’s not about how I might feel when someone addresses white privilege - it’s about recognising that I have it, and accepting that. It’s the same thing feminists ask men to do, so why is it received so negatively here? Think mansplaining, but this time it’s about race and intersectionality. Intersectionality has been criticised for creating division, but all it really does is acknowledge that different experiences exist across gender, politics, social class, race, education, etc and looks at how they interact. As Eddo-Lodge says: “If feminism can understand the patriarchy, it’s important to question why so many feminists struggle to understand whiteness as a political structure in the same way”. There is greater complexity of course, but that’s just it in a nutshell. In an ideal world this wouldn’t matter and we wouldn’t need broad identifiers like race, class and gender to be the first thing we consider when we see a person. But this is not an ideal world. That’s the reality of the world we live in whether I like it or not.

I give this three stars due to the repetitiveness off the book, which I understand is to have the point come across. However it did kind of make me want to skip forward a little. It could have easily been cut down.

For myself, I’ll be doing more listening, less assuming, and more acknowledging going forward.

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  • Rosie
  • 02-12-20

Essential reading/listening

Framing racial issues in an anecdotal way, then strongly backing up these experiences with evidence, this book provided an incredible insight of the fatigue of dealing with the same old tropes about race and immigration, while still providing the hope that we can work towards a better, and more inclusive, future. Dealing with chapters on feminism, class, and more, this book should be essential reading for everyone.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-24-19

Must read

This book is a must read for all. There is no true knowledge unless you have seen both sides. For if you look at mug from the side without the handle you may think there is no handle. Not until you look from the other side or spin it around will you see that handle. Reni Eddo-Lodge invites you to take a walk around to the other side. It’s not to make you feel bad for not knowing about the handle, but give up what you think to be true and take a walk around. Powerful book.

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  • Geneva
  • 03-13-18

Educating and interesting

This book has provoked conversations I’ve long needed to have with myself. I am incredibly grateful the wisdom passed through this book.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-11-19

Must read

Such an important book on race and colonial politics. A must read for anyone who wants to learn about history and the concept of structural racism.

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  • Matilda
  • 04-19-18

Read this book!!

Any colour you are, you need to read this book.
As a white female I found it confronting but good, my outlook on racism has changed so much!
Thankyou Reni

1 person found this helpful