Called both “a deft, angry analysis for our angry times” (Kirkus Reviews) and “insightful and irreverent” (Publishers Weekly), sociologist Crystal Marie Fleming‘s 2018 How to Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide covers a lot of territory regarding race and racism, not only in this country but all over the world.
In explaining racism to all of us, Fleming, who identifies as black, admits that she too has needed to learn. States Kirkus: “People are stupid about race, as she herself was, because they haven’t been properly educated. They know nothing of the interdisciplinary Critical Race Theory and think that ‘white supremacy’ references should be limited to guys in hoods and other extremists.”
The following is a sampling of succinct quotes from How to Be Less Stupid About Race:
There is no biological basis to dividing humans into racial categories.
Race is a fundamentally stupid idea that refers to the belief in visible, permanent, hierarchical differences between human groups defined in terms of biology, physical appearance, or ancestry.
Everyone has an opinion about race, but 99 percent of the population has never studied it. And even many textbooks that “talk about race” are filled with lies, inaccuracies, and alternative facts.
Much of the racial stupidity we encounter in everyday life derives from the fact that people think of racism as individual prejudice rather than a broader system and structure of power.
White superiority can’t tolerate millions of people finally realizing that it is pervasive and systematic.
White supremacy persists, to a great degree, because of white folks’ refusal to aggressively challenge other whites on their racism.
There are generations of white people who have been socialized to believe that what we now call racism is just the way it is.
White supremacy is the air we breathe. It’s embedded within our major institutions, our political economy, definitions of citizenship, our cultural codes and expectations, the way resources are distributed, and our psychological biases.
Despite the valiant efforts of white observers to blame the election on the economic anxiety of white workers, study after study has confirmed that Trump’s appeal to whites was primarily driven by race–and racism–not class.
Seventy five percent of whites have no non white friends.
As long as the endemic, systemic nature of white supremacy is successfully minimized or denied, as long as “conversations about race” are mainly about individual attitudes, prejudice, or the actions of a few extremists, then attention is drawn away from the structures and pattern of racial inequality hiding in plain sight.
Racism isn’t just wearing white hoods and burning crosses. It’s also fixing the system so that black votes don’t get counted. It’s outlawing affirmative action at the state level. It’s building more prisons than schools. It’s red lining by financial institutions. It’s television programming that portrays people of color as villains and white people as their victims.
We can only change those things we are willing to face.
Great post! Thanks for highlighting this book and the conversation we all need to be having.