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How to Be Less Stupid About Race
Cover of How to Be Less Stupid About Race
How to Be Less Stupid About Race
On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide
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A unique and irreverent take on everything that's wrong with our "national conversation about race"—and what to do about it
How to Be Less Stupid About Race is your essential guide to breaking through the half-truths and ridiculous misconceptions that have thoroughly corrupted the way race is represented in the classroom, pop culture, media, and politics. Centuries after our nation was founded on genocide, settler colonialism, and slavery, many Americans are kinda-sorta-maybe waking up to the reality that our racial politics are (still) garbage. But in the midst of this reckoning, widespread denial and misunderstandings about race persist, even as white supremacy and racial injustice are more visible than ever before.
Combining no-holds-barred social critique, humorous personal anecdotes, and analysis of the latest interdisciplinary scholarship on systemic racism, sociologist Crystal M. Fleming provides a fresh, accessible, and irreverent take on everything that's wrong with our "national conversation about race." Drawing upon critical race theory, as well as her own experiences as a queer black millennial college professor and researcher, Fleming unveils how systemic racism exposes us all to racial ignorance—and provides a road map for transforming our knowledge into concrete social change.
Searing, sobering, and urgently needed, How to Be Less Stupid About Race is a truth bomb for your racist relative, friend, or boss, and a call to action for everyone who wants to challenge white supremacy and intersectional oppression. If you like Issa Rae, Justin Simien, Angela Davis, and Morgan Jerkins, then this deeply relevant, bold, and incisive book is for you.
A unique and irreverent take on everything that's wrong with our "national conversation about race"—and what to do about it
How to Be Less Stupid About Race is your essential guide to breaking through the half-truths and ridiculous misconceptions that have thoroughly corrupted the way race is represented in the classroom, pop culture, media, and politics. Centuries after our nation was founded on genocide, settler colonialism, and slavery, many Americans are kinda-sorta-maybe waking up to the reality that our racial politics are (still) garbage. But in the midst of this reckoning, widespread denial and misunderstandings about race persist, even as white supremacy and racial injustice are more visible than ever before.
Combining no-holds-barred social critique, humorous personal anecdotes, and analysis of the latest interdisciplinary scholarship on systemic racism, sociologist Crystal M. Fleming provides a fresh, accessible, and irreverent take on everything that's wrong with our "national conversation about race." Drawing upon critical race theory, as well as her own experiences as a queer black millennial college professor and researcher, Fleming unveils how systemic racism exposes us all to racial ignorance—and provides a road map for transforming our knowledge into concrete social change.
Searing, sobering, and urgently needed, How to Be Less Stupid About Race is a truth bomb for your racist relative, friend, or boss, and a call to action for everyone who wants to challenge white supremacy and intersectional oppression. If you like Issa Rae, Justin Simien, Angela Davis, and Morgan Jerkins, then this deeply relevant, bold, and incisive book is for you.
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About the Author-
  • Crystal M. Fleming, PhD, is a writer and sociologist who researches racism in the United States and abroad. She earned degrees from Wellesley College and Harvard University and is associate professor of sociology and Africana studies at Stony Brook University. Fleming writes about race, sexuality, and politics for publications including The Root, Black Agenda Report, Vox, and Everyday Feminism, and she has tens of thousands of followers on social media. She is the author of Resurrecting Slavery: Racial Legacies and White Supremacy in France.
Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    Starred review from August 1, 2018
    A scholar navigates between the academic and the vernacular in delivering some hard lessons on racism and white supremacy.Fleming (Resurrecting Slavery: Racial Legacies and White Supremacy in France, 2017) promises to make her readers uncomfortable, particularly her white ones, and she succeeds. Yet the "stupid" in the title isn't simply an insult. 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. Fleming offers a crash course in what will be a radically new perspective for most and a provocative challenge that should inspire those who disagree with her to at least consider their basic preconceptions. "There are a certain number of prerequisites for the course that you will find in these pages," she writes. "These include critical thinking, reflexivity, compassion, and a willingness to experience discomfort." She proceeds to distinguish between personal prejudice and the more insidious and pervasive "systemic racism (a system of power)." It is by no means limited to America, but it has flourished along with white supremacy as "capitalist inventions." As the author examines the history of a country in which white settlers appropriated the land of Natives from a different race and then harvested it through the labor of imported slaves of a different race, she builds a strong case that the existence of systemic racism is undeniable and is perpetuated by a white power structure, a white education system, and a white-controlled media for the benefit of a white elite. Rather than finding any sort of post-racial hope in Barack Obama, for whom Fleming once served as a campaign spokesperson, she now dismisses him as "the king of neoliberal tokenism...it's almost as if he's competing for the title of the Most Sold-Out Sell-Out of all time or the Unclest of Uncle Toms."A deft, angry analysis for angry times.

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 27, 2018
    In this insightful and irreverent text, Fleming, a sociologist and self-described “black bi girl from Tennessee,” attempts to simplify critical race theory for the masses. Drawing on her scholarly expertise and her own past ignorance of structural inequality, Fleming seeks to “confront how racial stupidity functions to keep large majorities of the population ignorant about the social, political, historical, and economic realities of racial oppression” (or, as she puts it later, “wig-snatch the hell out of white supremacy”). She begins with the basics, combining descriptions of contemporary sociopolitical phenomena and personal testimony with quintessential texts from critical race scholars. From there, she delves into the systematic silencing of black women; her time as a gung-ho member of what she jokingly calls “the International Church of Obama” and her disillusionment at Obama’s calculated failure to meaningfully address race during his presidency; Trump and the wages of whiteness; racist depictions of black people in the media; and the complexities of interracial relationships. Fleming covers a lot of ground in a small amount of time, and her work is truly accessible; she breaks down complex concepts and constructs arguments effectively in jocular, witty prose. This analysis of today’s complex sociopolitical climate would be a great starting point for anyone looking to question preconceived mainstream notions about race. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret.

  • Library Journal

    September 1, 2018

    Sociologist Fleming (Resurrecting Slavery: Racial Legacies and White Supremacy in France) delivers on her promise to help people become "less stupid about race" by inspiring critical thinking and in-depth reflection on the past, present, and future effects of systemic racism and white supremacy. The author begins with an excellent introduction to critical race theory, then applies the methodology to today's society through a combination of frank, irreverent personal anecdotes and interdisciplinary research. The result is a thought-provoking analysis of systemic racism in our institutions, with special emphasis on education, politics, government, media, pop culture, and even personal relationships. Fleming goes beyond addressing obvious examples of white supremacy in our everyday lives and delves into topics such as what she deems the conciliatory racial presidency of Barack Obama and the systemic racism in the New York Times. The book is well organized and includes extensive notes. The narrative's conversational, brash, style is easy to read, but the harsh conclusions may cause some readers discomfort, anger, or dismay. Fleming helps to alleviate these feelings with a list of ten steps to take to be a more just society. VERDICT An important and timely voice to discussions of race in America.--Theresa Muraski, Univ. of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Lib.

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review "Fleming offers a crash course in what will be a radically new perspective for most and a provocative challenge that should inspire those who disagree with her to at least consider their basic preconceptions . . . . A deft, angry analysis for angry times."
  • Publishers Weekly "[A]n insightful and irreverent text . . . her work is truly accessible; she breaks down complex concepts and constructs arguments effectively in jocular, witty prose. This analysis of today's complex sociopolitical climate would be a great starting point for anyone looking to question preconceived mainstream notions about race."
  • Midwest Book Review "Exceptionally well written, organized and presented."
  • The Christian Century "Fleming's strength is her expertise as a sociologist . . . she wields her data like a sword, shredding racist nonsense."
  • Nina Turner, former Ohio state senator "Dr. Fleming offers a straight-no-chaser critique of our collective complicit ignorance regarding the state of race in the United States . . . . This book will leave you thinking, offended, and transformed."
  • Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, President of the American Sociological Association and author of Racism without Racists: Colorblind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America "With its deft mix of satire, memoir, and empirical evidence, Fleming's book is a groundbreaking model of public scholarship and sure to be an instant classic."
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How to Be Less Stupid About Race
How to Be Less Stupid About Race
On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide
Crystal Marie Fleming
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