Chapter 7 and Aftermath Summary
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 long as you’re doing something.”
In this section, Eddo-Lodge acknowledges that “this book...
(The entire section is 1,201 words.)