For Those Still Sleeping on Reni's Book - Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race
Updated: Jan 3
Recently I was asked to summarise this book by a white friend. It's one of the hot three right now that discusses being British from a black or mixed heritage perspective by British authors; the other two you may have heard of:
Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch
Natives by Akala.
Having spoken with a few white friends, some of them have heard of the book and the recent buzz around it. When I share it with those who haven't, the book's title usually amuses them. It's a book that perhaps some people haven't read, yet are curious to know what it's about.
I wonder why they're curious?
So if you're curious about it, this post is for you.
Before writing the book, she wrote a blog post (same title as the book), which she describes as 'resonating with thousands of people across the internet.'
It'll probably give you the best sample of what the book is about:
After she wrote it she summarised it, writing:
"Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race will critically tackle politics, pop culture and a thousand received wisdoms about race and racism in the UK."
Another book that's been recommended on racfism, which Reni's book could be a prequel to is Robin DiAngelo's (a white studies academic) book with a similar title: 'White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism.
Before we get into my highlight of the book, I think it would be helpful to know three related terms and their definitions. These terms or conditions seem to be characteristic of white peoples in their relationship to black people and PoC:
Racial Psychopathic Personality (1)
A white person with an underlying biologically transmitted proclivity with roots deep in evolutionary history. Who is continuously in conflict with other persons and groups. Unable to experience guilt, is entirely selfish and callous, and has a total disregard for the rights of others. Who knows right and wrong yet do not do (ignore) right and wrong.
White Psychosis (2)
At its root is an irrational, discursive psychosis that cannot be tamed or persuaded through reason, which infects Western thought. Moral suasion is of no use.
White Fragility (3)
A state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves.
What I will mention is a glaring, incisive section from the book about the journey from birth to adulthood of a black male ('and it’s always a boy – there’s little to no research in this area focused on the life chances of black girls'), using statistics, flare and substantiated sources.
She begins it with "It seems like black people face a disadvantage at many significant steps in their lives."
"[a] black man can try his hardest, but he is essentially playing a rigged game."
And goes on to describe and explain each stage:
From when entering the education system: being dramatically under assessed and more likely to be excluded at school despite being less likely to fit the typical profile of excluded white pupils; less likely to be accepted into a high-ranking research uni; white teaching, culture and curriculum that contributes to the achievement gap.
To leaving school/uni to look for a job: high levels of name-based discrimination found in favour of white applicants and pay disparity, e.g. earning between 13%, 14% and 15% less than your white counterparts with the same level of qualification, i.e. GCSE, standards and degrees respectively.
And consequent unemployment: Blacks face the sharpest rise in unemployment and higher rates of unemployment.
To the criminal justice system encroaching on his social and personal life: harsher police responses, higher stop and search rates and overrepresentation on the criminal DNA database.
And also the health care system: where he's more likely to be sectioned under the compulsory powers of the Mental Health Act against his will, more likely to receive higher doses of psychotic medication; and less likely to be diagnosed with dementia and when they are it's usually at a later stage than a white British person.
All of the above is academically well sourced, and the point she is making with this 'journey' is that with 'a bias this entrenched, in too many levels of society, [a] black man can try his hardest, but he is essentially playing a rigged game.'
She goes on to write, 'His parents and peers may tell him that if he works hard enough, he can overcome anything. But the evidence shows that that is not true and that those who do are exceptional to be succeeding in an environment that is set up for them to fail.'
Recommended reading for those who are brave enough to acknowledge the patently unfair playing field in our society and then not lazily and shallowly reject it on the basis that there could be “other factors” at play because of the evidence that shows otherwise.
Another book that's been recommended on racism, which Reni's book could be a prequel to is Robin DiAngelo's (a white studies academic) book with a similar title: 'White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism.
1. Dr. Wright, The Psychopathic Racial Personality.
2. Dr. Andrews, The Psychosis of Whiteness.
3. Dr. DiAngelo's, White Fragility.