The Current

Why journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge is no longer talking to white people about race

“Not seeing race does not end racism ... We have to see race in order to see how racial power dynamics continue to be perpetuated.”
For Reni Eddo-Lodge, what started as a blog post three years ago has now become a book called, Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race. (Bloomsbury Circus Publishing)

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"I'm no longer engaging with white people on the topic of race. Not all white people, just the vast majority who refuse to accept the existence of structural racism and its symptoms."

That's how British journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge started a blog post in 2014 — and launched a conversation looking at how we talk about race, about the topics that make people uncomfortable, and who has to take up the mantle in fighting against racism.

Not seeing race does not end racism.- Reni Eddo-Lodge

Eddo-Lodge says the problem starts at the very beginning — in our ideas of what racism is. 

"I think that we have a very childish, stunted analysis of racism," Eddo-Lodge tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti. 

"It sort of started and stopped at, 'judging people on the basis of the colour of their skin is a bad thing, wrong to do, don't do it'."

Eddo-Lodge says that the real problem goes beyond individual prejudice to systemic issues that put people of colour at a disadvantage. 
(Bloomsbury Circus Publishing)

She argues that when people say they "don't see race" or "don't have a racist bone in their body," it takes the conversation backwards.

"Not seeing race does not end racism," says Eddo-Lodge. 

"You can't just ignore the problem and hope that it goes away. We have to see race in order to see how racial power dynamics continue to be perpetuated."

Good people can be racists, she points out.

"I don't think that racism is a case of morals," Eddo-Lodge tells Tremonti.

"I think that if we would just understand racism as a dominant ideology that we are all born into, and we can either choose to be critical of or we can choose to be complicit in, then sure, anybody can be reproducing racism."

But Eddo-Lodge does believe the discussion around racism is deepening, and opening up.

"I feel like we are on the tipping point, I feel like something is around the corner," she says. 

"It feels now like the issue that we can't continue to ignore."

This doesn't mean, however, we can slow down in the fight against racism, says Eddo-Lodge.

"One thing I really go after ... is white liberal complacency," she explains.

"I go after that feeling of it being done because that is dangerous. I think that we should always be vigilant."

Listen to the full conversation near the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Karin Marley.