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

Narrated by: Reni Eddo-Lodge
Length: 5 hrs and 53 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (216 ratings)
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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

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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.

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

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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.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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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.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful

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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.

7 of 14 people found this review helpful

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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.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful

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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 of 3 people found this review helpful

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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.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Must read

Born white. Seen as white. See colour. And long for a world where we see each other in honesty and be treated as such. Thank you Reni. ❤️

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Incredible, insightful and inspiring!

Remi found the words for my thoughts and beliefs. Amazing book and an amazing author!

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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A must read!

Brilliant and thought provoking! As an Indigenous Australian, the issues raised in this publication resonates with me, as my people and other minority groups in this country here have experienced similar challenges.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Buretto
  • 08-03-2018

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.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Duane J.
  • 15-06-2017

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!

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Kevin Gallagher
  • 09-03-2018

Extremely eye-opening, disheartening truth

As a white privileged male from America who is constantly wanting to learn about racial inequality, systemic and structural racism, and learning how to navigate my conversations with my friends of other races and ethnicities, I am so appreciative of this book! Not only did I expand my knowledge about the roots of racism, but also learned a great deal about racial inequity and inequality, cultural prejudices and gender inequality in the UK. Thank you Reni, you are a star.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Keith R. Smith
  • 15-12-2017

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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-06-2018

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 16-05-2018

awkwardnora

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

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 15-05-2018

ACCURATE

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

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Demetria
  • 07-03-2018

Race Relations in the UK

Would you listen to Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race again? Why?

Yes, I would listen to this book again! I'm actually buying the physical book because there was so many great points in it. I've recommended this book to several colleagues who have an interest in diversity and inclusion.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

It is interesting hearing the history of race unfold in the UK around the same time as the US went through the Civil Rights Movement. There were many similarities, for better or worse.

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

I have not listened to any of performance before.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There were several moments that moved me, that's why I'm buying the book. This is one book I'll read over and over again!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-10-2017

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 !

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Sara Hussein
  • 28-02-2019

Informative

it's my first time to read about racism against the black and brown people in Britain.
enlightening but the narration was slow.

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  • Anon
  • 04-02-2019

Not great

Racism disguised as social justice was what one comment said and I agree completely. Listening to some of the arguments Reni put forward I found it hard to understand how you could possibly reason with her.

The narration could do with a little livening up, some passion would be nice. You don’t have to sound like you’re reading from a script, even though you are.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

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  • Joaquin
  • 11-09-2018

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.

358 of 417 people found this review helpful

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  • Sam
  • 16-05-2018

Write like a journalist

Full of strawmen and know social science understanding. She does not deal with any counter argument in any serious way.

26 of 36 people found this review helpful

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  • Robina Maslen
  • 16-08-2018

A difficult read for an older white woman

I've just finished listening to this audio-book. My daughter recently went out for a while with a young black African man, and so I thought I should be better informed on current politics (being nearly 60 years old myself). I went through a range of emotions as I listened - from empathy, to resistance and anger, to realisation that I was feeling threatened because of my white privilege, exactly as the writer described. So for me this has been a very uncomfortable and challenging read, but one which has immeasurably widened and deepened my understanding of current race and gender politics and of the importance of intersectionism (not sure I got the terminology right there...). The areas covered and the structure of the book seemed to me to be highly relevant. Not sure what I'm going to do about it yet, but the last chapter was useful in this regard. and I'll discuss it with my (all white and female) book group tomorrow.

79 of 115 people found this review helpful

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  • Valentine Mutsvairo
  • 19-03-2019

well researched. Open minded

Great book. Great points. brings race into conversation from a statistical and historical basis. really insightful. i will share with anyone willing to listen

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • GadranDe56
  • 11-03-2018

It's certainly interesting...

Any additional comments?

What I can say is that this book was certainly interesting to listen to. Ms. Eddo-Lodge begins by detailing Britain's involvement in the black slavery of the past; a period that I have been meaning to learn more about, and she provides a good introduction that has convinced me to learn more. I was surprised, though, to find that the British blockade of western Africa was left out, which I thought was a shame. As the chapters continue, she covers such topics as police brutality and white privilege in occupations, education, and the law; topics which are also covered by writers such as Malcolm Gladwell in his book, "Blink". Unlike Malcolm Gladwell, however, she does not give any suggestion of potential solutions. There is only one reference to this, in the last chapter, where she claims that we are so far away from the solution that there is no point in discussing what could prove racism's final death... Personally, I look forward to names being removed from job and university applications, to account for any gender and race biases... I much prefer when a writer, who identifies a problem, will then suggest ways to rectify it. Ms. Eddo-Lodge does not do this, which unfortunately, is a little reminiscent of those who make there money by identifying these injustices; the permanent removal of which would not necessarily be in their best interests...Overall, the book was interesting, and her reading of it was easy to listen to, despite some intentional mispronunciations of words, which I didn't really understand the purpose of. It should keep your interest even if you do not agree with the things that she is saying, and I would certainly suggest it for anyone. As is suggested by the very title, it seems that Ms. Eddo-Lodge is under the impression that white people either won't or can't understand what it is to be black, and so it would be interesting to see her in a debate with individuals such as Candace Owens, Larry Elder, or Tommy Sotomayor. Appreciatively, they are Americans and so will have had different experiences, but still...

26 of 42 people found this review helpful

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  • Marats Stelihs
  • 22-03-2019

Some good facts about UK

overall the book is acceptable and it is noticeable that the author did some research.
How ever the view is strongly biased and one sided. 2 words could sum up this book - Victim mentality.

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  • Kemi Woods
  • 21-03-2019

Well worth the read! Well done Reni!

I am so pleased that you wrote this book, it was so difficult to read at time, because it is part of the story of my life. Thank you

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  • Mrs. L. Stonehouse
  • 21-03-2019

clear and passionate, a really important book

review is optional review is optional review is optional review is optional review is optional really want to stop now

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  • Bello_Mac
  • 18-03-2019

Wow! I have been so ignorant about race for so long

I have always been curious and I have travelled the world visiting other countries and cultures, immersing myself and meeting other people and try to put myself in their shoes. Until now I thought I could empathise and understand racism and in the last couple of years I have been reading more about the struggles and life of justice warriors. When I listened to Trevor Noah’s book, Born a Sin, a book that I really enjoyed it also left me paradoxically shocked because it opened an area of awareness about race that I never had before. I continued searching and Reni in this book is finally opened my eyes to my white privilege in a way that I feel humbled and at the same time able to use my life long justice concerns with a much better focus now that I am more aware of what white privilege means and how society is structurally set up in an insidious racist way, even in well meaning, progressive politics. Searching for consensus and helping others see injustices is always been my way of going about it, but I can see now how consensus will never happen if most white people are unaware of the realities of racism past and present. I can also see now how the progressive tolerant society we believe we live in is neither progressive nor tolerant. Racism is affecting and impacting the lives of so many people daily and the shear ignorance that we have in white western societies is perpetuating this problem. I am grateful to Remi for her suggestions in how to engage in raising awareness at the end of the book and I will endeavour to do my best to help others understand and challenge racism in a more effective way.