If there is one book I would recommend reading to try and figure out racism in society it would be this one: How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.
To anyone who immediately thinks this is a book for white people to train themselves on how to not be racist, full stop; that is not what this book is about. This book is about the idea of racism as a whole, helping readers see and understand all forms of racism, to understand their consequences and how to work to oppose them in our systems and within ourselves. This book is not directed at one specific race; it is directed at all of us. It attempts to re-focus our view toward racist policies, and explains how any policy that results in racial inequity is a racist policy.
Kendi writes this book in the form of a memoir, telling the story of his own path from being anti-black, to anti-white and finally to anti-racism. Dissecting his way through why so few people consider themselves to be racist, Kendi hits on almost every subject I could think of, logically exposing hypocrisies that many people try to use to explain how they are not racist or cannot be racist because of their past or position in society.
Early on in the book, the author hooked me with the concept of what it truly means to be racist, not racist, and anti-racist. Kendi writes, “One endorses either the idea of a racial hierarchy as a racist, or racial equality as an antiracist, One either believes problems are rooted in groups of people, as a racist, or locates the roots of problems in power and policies, as an antiracist. One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an antiracist. There is no in-between safe space of ‘not racist,’ the claim of ‘not racist’ neutrality is a mask for racism.”
Kendi goes on to explain in the book how racist policies lead to racist ideas, and that we've been too focused on individual acts of racism instead of the policies that promote and sustain racist ideas.
This book seriously made me review and rethink everything I thought I knew about racism and how to be opposed to it; it's extremely thought provoking and gave me tons to digest. It also helped answer many questions I had about racism. It really helped re-frame my perception and start looking at the right places to help enact change.
Regardless of the color of your skin, your political affiliation, or whether you believe systemic racism exists or not, this book is an important read to better understand what it means to be against racist ideas and racist policies so that we can all be truly equal.