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

by Reni Eddo-Lodge

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Chapter 7 and Aftermath Summary

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Last Updated on June 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1202

Chapter 7

When fielding questions from British teenagers about racism, Reni Eddo-Lodge is asked, “When do you think we’ll get to an end point?”

The idea of an “end point” is “the new ‘post racial,’ ” Eddo-Lodge states. A post-racial mindset acknowledges historical racism but argues that racism is nonexistent in the present. The search for an end point “accepts the racism of the present, but doesn’t want to dwell on it too much, instead hoping that the post-racist utopia is just around the corner.”

Unfortunately, Eddo-Lodge writes, “Britain’s relationship with race and racism isn’t a neat narrative with a feel-good resolution. Change is incremental, and racism will exist long after I die.”

Eddo-Lodge wrote her original blog post in 2014, frustrated by a “communication gap” that she believes still exists. In response to discussions of racism, “the response from white people is to shift the focus away from their complicity.” White people warn about the dangers of “identity politics,” not realizing that racism is about White identity, not Black identity.

When White people ask how they can help end racism, Eddo-Lodge first points out that the thrust of anti-racist work “needs to be led by the people at the sharp end of injustice.” However, “white people who recognise racism have an incredibly important part to play.”

Being anti-racist is not about wallowing in guilt. It is not about using racism as an issue of concern only when it benefits you—for example, when politicians only point out structural racism to criticize their opponents. Being anti-racist should also not be centred on “the performative nature of social media anti-racism.” After the terrorist attacks in Paris, there was sudden interest in the terrorist attacks that had occurred in Kenya seven months earlier. On social media, people became aware of the unequal outpouring of grief and sought to portray themselves as “socially aware.”

Instead of this false, “self-satisfying” solidarity, Eddo-Lodge writes, “We need to be honest with ourselves, and recognise our own inherent biases, before we think about performing anti-racism for an audience.”

The current structure of racism puts the task of change “on the shoulders of those at the bottom.” In reality, “racism is a white problem.” On the outside of Whiteness, people of color can “only do so much.”

Since writing her blog post, Eddo-Lodge has noticed a surge of people wanting to talk about race. This discussion of race has socially acceptable boundaries. Challenging racism “is tacitly tolerated,” but “making white people feel uncomfortable is impermissible.” Many White people are “angry and in denial”; others feel overwhelmed by guilt.

Instead of feeling guilty, Eddo-Lodge tells her White audience to “get angry.” “Anger is useful,” she writes. “Use it for good. Support those in the struggle, rather than spending too much time pitying yourself.”

For Black people in her audience, Eddo-Lodge doesn’t have “any magic formulas” for coping with racism, but she does suggest setting boundaries. It is necessary to “rest and recharge,” “to fight despondency,” and “to hang on to hope.”

Racism must be recognized as structural in order for its “insidiousness” to be seen. Racism is not just evident in stark facts or racial slurs—“it seeps, like a noxious gas, into everything.” It is “both glaringly obvious and painfully elusive.”

Changing a pervasive culture of racism requires individuals to take responsibility and action. Rather than waiting for “a hero to swoop in,” Eddo-Lodge encourages her individual readers to begin “chipping away at warped power relations.” This anti-racist work can be on a small scale, in an individual sphere of influence. “It doesn’t matter what it is,” Eddo-Lodge concludes, “as...

(This entire section contains 1202 words.)

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long as you’re doing something.”


In this section, Eddo-Lodge acknowledges that “this book is nothing without the political climate that greeted it.”

In 2016, various events “caused a state of shell shock for progressives across the western world.” In June 2016, Britain voted to leave the European Union. In November, Donald Trump was elected as President of the United States.

Across Europe, country after country experienced rises in neo-Nazism, anti-immigration sentiment, and White nationalism. During the refugee crisis of 2015, compassionate European politicians were criticized, and most governments were “largely ambivalent” to the needs of Syrian refugees.

Eddo-Lodge reflects that, seemingly everywhere, “public opinion was veering toward hostility.” While Eddo-Lodge has often thought about racism, “that’s not always the case for other people of colour in Britain.” After the Brexit vote, however, racism became more evident. In the United States, the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum, and racism became more explicit at the highest levels of government.

For Eddo-Lodge, “the whole thing was a horror show.” Ideologies she had analyzed and rebutted in her book “were happening in real life,” sweeping across the global political landscape. Just two weeks after the book was published, the tragedy of the Grenfall Tower fire—when seventy-one residents were “incinerated in their own homes”—seemed to eerily demonstrate the links between race, class, and social housing that Eddo-Lodge had written about.

With a shifting global context, Eddo-Lodge’s views on race—once seen as radical—were sought after. Eddo-Lodge had chosen to keep the original title of her blog post, and the book was published with a provocative cover. The book’s cover alone has not failed to invoke “passionate responses.”

The content of the book was met by initially positive reactions. Responses from readers ranged “from the heartfelt and reflective to the utterly confusing.” Eddo-Lodge watched “white people reflect on the dynamics of their own lives” and the book “[dislodge] a pressure valve for readers of colour.”

During an event three months before the book’s publication, Eddo-Lodge encountered a White woman who “burst into tears” as she expressed her sense of overwhelming guilt. Cutting her off, Eddo-Lodge told the woman that “wallowing in despair would not get us anywhere.” This moment led Eddo-Lodge to realize that, through the book, she “was about to become responsible for a lot of people’s feelings.”

The feelings that Eddo-Lodge has encountered at book events have ranged from frustration and anger to hope.

The book arrived “at a time when a lot of people were despairing about the political direction of the world.” Since its publication, there has been noticeable change, particularly in the area of Black feminism. “There has been a renaissance of black critical thought and culture,” Eddo-Lodge writes, and it seems that “the critical anti-racist perspective is on top of a wave.” Over the past five years, anti-racist voices and critical responses to structural racism have gained momentum. “No longer on the margins,” anti-racism is becoming “a political priority.”

None of these gains, however, means that “overt and structural racism is over.” Encouraged by the success of Donald Trump, White nationalist groups around the world believe that “everyone will give in to the politics of hate.” Overall, however, Eddo-Lodge believes that we are at “a tipping point.” She is encouraged by the potential, knowledge, and energy in her audiences.

Eddo-Lodge closes the book with these words: “I consider myself to be part of a movement, and I think that if you are deeply touched by what you read in this book, then you are part of that movement too.”


Chapter 6 Summary