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How to Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the…

de Crystal Marie Fleming

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1465146,147 (3.68)4
"A primer that explores how our racist American society socializes us all to be racially stupid--and what we can do about it"--
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3.35. review here ( )
  joyblue | Mar 18, 2021 |
“Self-explanatory, LOL,” Mullen says. This funny, personal, no-holds-barred critique shatters rampant misconceptions about race. Fleming’s takeaway: Our racial politics are sorta-kinda-actually garbage, and many Americans are only just waking up to centuries of white supremacy and injustice. Fleming’s fresh and irreverent opinions are a must-read for understanding everything that’s wrong with our national conversation about race (spoiler: It’s a lot), and offers a road map for transforming acknowledgement into action. Publisher
  stlukeschurch | Mar 9, 2021 |
this whole book is like a truth bomb. whew. the chapter on obama (and the new york times) was especially rough, but necessary. and, holy shit, the information that so many presidential administrations colluded with nazi doctors, having brought them to america?!

this is very readable; her language is often really casual and she inserts herself (and her journey to understanding racism) into the work just enough. (it's also nice that she does that and tells us that she had to learn about racism herself, even as a black woman, so people who may be coming to this information late don't have to feel badly about that.) and fleming is obviously really, really smart but she doesn't write in a way that makes it hard to follow her where she's taking you. she covers a lot and i found myself pausing a lot while reading this, and looking up names and incidents. this is an excellent book with so many references to do deeper and more meaningful work to become antiracist.

the cover made me think this would be more about micro aggressions and ways white people make mistakes about race and racism, but this is so much more than that. she does gloss over some more basic concepts, but i feel like this goes past that and into deeper territory, which i really appreciate.

"...living in a racist society socializes us to be stupid about race."

"...living in a racist society exposes us all to absurd and harmful ideas that, in turn, help maintain the racial status quo."

"When social scientists describe racism as 'systemic,' we're referring to collective practices and representations that disadvantage categories of human beings on the basis of their perceived 'race.' The key word here is 'collective.' 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."

"Speaking of prejudice, it's important to understand that individual biases and negative stereotypes (which we all hold) are not the same as systemic racism (a system of power). Though everyone internalizes stereotypes about social groups, we do not all occupy the same position in the racial order. When members of a so-called 'racial' group are able to impose their prejudices in ways that reliably benefit them and disadvantage others, they have managed to successfully institutionalize their racist beliefs and protect their racial privileges. 'Institutional racism' consists of racist ideas and practices embedded within social organizations and institutions (e.g., policies, laws, families, education). The major insight about systemic and institutional racism is that there is no such thing as 'a little bit of racism' or 'pockets of racism' or 'random incidents of racism' isolated from the rest of society. Whether you realize it or not, racism is systemic, pervasive, and embedded within the core of all our major institutions. The consequences of systemic racism are vast - from the burgeoning racial wealth gap, political disenfranchisement, mass incarceration and racist immigration policies to micro-aggressions, racial profiling, racist media imagery, and disparities in health, education, employment, and housing."

"White supremacy is about power. It's about the intersections of racial domination, class domination, gender domination, and other forms of oppression. It's about capitalism. It's about colonialism. The bottom line is that white supremacy is about resources: who gets (and retains) access to them, who gets excluded, whose lives are made to matter, and whose lives are rendered disposable."

"If we are ever to move beyond this racial order, then we will also have to dismantle the system of unearned privilege attached to being socially defined as 'white.' If being racist is about supporting a system of racist domination, then becoming antiracist is about recognizing ad opposing this system."

"Consider Operation Paperclip, the formerly classified program in which the United States violated its own official policy of denying citizenship to Nazis and instead welcomed more than 1,500 German scientists and their family members - including people directly responsible for war crimes during the Holocaust - and hired them to work on government projects in the aftermath of World War II. In addition to hiring Nazis for their expertise, US officials helped whitewash their war crimes, create new identities, and revive their reputations. ...Authorized by Harry Truman, Operation Paperclip stretched from 1945 until at least 1990, meaning that no less than nine presidential administrations were involved in the government's secret partnership with Nazi researchers, engineers, and scientists. Let me say this again: nine different US presidents quite literally facilitated the normalization of Nazis."

"Trump is not some kind of alien creature what came here from outer space. His brand of crude white supremacy resonates with tens of millions of US citizens (as well as white nationalists and neo-Nazis across the globe) because his views align with many of the foundational principles upon which Western colonial expansion broadly, and the United States specifically, were established. And the issue here is not just that our nation's founding principles were explicitly white supremacist, xenophobic, and imperialist. It's that these principles have been actively maintained, institutionalized, and normalized for generations."

this seems obvious to me in reality, but i didn't know that it's backed up by actual studies and data, so that's good to know:

"Decades of empirical data indicate that news depictions regularly exaggerate negative depictions of people of color far beyond statistical realities."
( )
  overlycriticalelisa | Jan 2, 2021 |
The title had me hooked. Blunt and straight to the point. I had read other, somewhat similar books along the lines of similar concepts so I was very excited to see this picked up at the library. Author Fleming takes the reader through the hows and whys of racism, breaking down the systemic nature of it, why we still where we are now, and what we can do for the future.

Or something like that. I was genuinely surprised to see the numerous positive reviews, because the book was a mess. It's a mix of anecdotes, references to studies, analyzing news/events, the role of politics and our elected officials, etc. I wasn't expected an incredibly dry academic work but it also seemed strange that the author thought it was important to tell the reader what hashtags she used in support of President Obama's re-election bid in 2012.

The author makes some really great points and I was nodding along with quite a bit, but it also felt like the author inserted herself too much into the book. It's understandable and was interesting to see how her experiences shaped her (some of it was stuff I very much related to) but it also felt too short.

Her positions were understandable but sometimes needed more fleshing out or better editing in what was a surprisingly short book. She talks about Obama using drones and a couple of pages later connects that to police violence. She hated Clinton's use of the word "deplorable" in the 2016 campaign and the stereotypes of Trump voters (again, can see where she's coming from) but had previously discussed the concept of "racial ignorance" earlier in the book without addressing that (Fleming was unhappy with Clinton and her campaign, but what would have been a better approach according to Fleming? Where is the agency of the Republican Party and its responsibility to its voters on this point?)

Fully respect the author's POV and do think she really isn't wrong on many points. But it was a frustrating read and there's always the very distinct possibility that this book just wasn't for me.

Borrowed from the library and that's my recommendation. ( )
  HoldMyBook | Dec 3, 2018 |
*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

This is a book that we NEED right now. It’s a no-nonsense look at where we are and how we’re inundated with denial and misunderstandings about what white supremacy is and how it works. For those struggling to understand why things are the way they are and why people seem so brazen about their racism now, this is the book for you! Fleming shows just how deeply entrenched white supremacy is in our culture and explains that things aren’t really any different than they used to be–people are just now being more honest about how things are.

I really appreciated the personal touch this book has; Fleming gives us lessons about race by walking us through her own journey to being someone who actively studies, educates, and tries to dismantle the ignorance we live in about race. This is really what makes the book special–it’s super informational, but also a memoir of one amazing woman’s growth and journey to being who she is. What I love most about this book is that Fleming does not take a holier-than-thou approach. She fully admits to her own biases and prejudices, examining them and using them as examples to give a more personal look at exactly what she’s talking about.

For those just delving into learning more about critical race theory and interested in challenging your own complicity in holding up the current power structure, be prepared! It’s a rough journey but one that is so worth it. Fleming is compassionate in her approach to calling us out and cheering us on to do and be better. She also gives some great resources as an addition that can help you learn more about yourself, your biases, and what work you can accomplish to be less ignorant about race. Definitely give this a read! I’m going to be buying this for my friends and family, regardless of whether or not they think they need to read this. Also, give Crystal Marie Fleming a follow on Twitter–her tweets are amazing!

Also posted on Purple People Readers. ( )
  sedelia | Oct 18, 2018 |
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"A primer that explores how our racist American society socializes us all to be racially stupid--and what we can do about it"--

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