Cover Image: Why Does Everything Have to Be About Race?

Why Does Everything Have to Be About Race?

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Member Reviews

This book is for anyone who wants to know what to say when they happen to get into a race conversation.  It will help you debunk and refute every argument.  The information provided is presented in a easy to understand format and the author conveys the points without making it seem like a lecture.   I like that Mr. Boykins  weaved in some of his personal life experiences, when relevant, to bring a personal touch to the subject. #netgalley #whydoeseverythinghavetobeaboutrace?
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This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to refute racist arguments but can’t always find the right words. Boykin expertly debunks racist myths using a combination of history, statistics and lived experience. (And sometimes a health dose of sarcasm, as he does in the chapter about the infuriating myth of the “race card). Boykin patiently tackles all the arguments you’ve seen on your most racist coworker’s Facebook page, explaining why Black History Month is still necessary,  why reparations are needed, and why white people who are poor still have white privilege. The author’s background as a Harvard-educated lawyer has a clear influence on the straightforward and persuasive way he lays out his arguments. I would recommend this book to allies looking to strengthen their anti-racist arsenal…and maybe also as a gift for that relative who doesn’t quite understand these issues.
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Excellent book by Mr. Boykin. A must-read that concisely refutes 25 different arguments concerning race. It should be required reading for all college-level African-American/ American history classes. 

Thanks to NetGalley and PublicAffairs Books for this advanced copy, which I voluntarily read and reviewed.
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The best way for me to give a really in-depth review of Boykin's book would be for it to be a classroom  assignment (which it isn't) where I compare and contrast his reasons why race very much colors our interpretation of history. Without a doubt if I had been exposed to his book in high school (or a more simplified version in elementary school) my take on this history would be totally different. Saying that this is "Seeing history from another person's perspective",  is a supreme understatement!
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This book is a collection of 25 essays written by well-known political commentator Keith Boykin. Each essay confronts and refutes common arguments used to justify, support, and perpetuate racism in America. Some of my favorite essays include those addressing critical race theory being “taught” in public schools, the in accurate portrayal of black people and welfare, and black on black crime.
This book provides a comprehensive overview of racism in the US, but the author still manages to dedicate appropriate attention to each topic, and is able to include lesser known points. At the same time, the writing is accessible and not overly verbose, which makes it an excellent starting point for those unaccustomed to the level of expertise the author demonstrates.
The author does an excellent job referencing different historical events and actions/quotes by predominant figures that are lesser known and not a topic discussed in American schools today (including post-secondary education).
The author does not gloss over parts that may make readers uncomfortable; unlike some educators in the field, the author justifiably does not try to assuage any potential “white guilt.” Instead, the author calls for a deep examination of how racism has played and currently plays a role in the United States. It is only after everyone can understand and acknowledge this that we can move forward in working to change the future and “‘banish white guilt.’”
I have a degree in political science; I took many history classes in college; I have engaged in education to better understand DEIA in America. Yet I still found myself viscerally reacting in shock and disgust at revelations of things that have been done and said. In some ways, it is unbelievable that such a hatred and harm has been present in America. However, it is that exact thinking that leads to so many people hiding from it. Due to a belief in a great America, a general optimism in humankind, or sheer selfish and willful ignorance and denial, there are far too many white people who choose everyday to continue to perpetuate a system and culture that harms BIPOC people. It is through constant education and work that us as white people can begin to attempt to rectify the situation we are in.
I do not think I have ever annotated a book as much as this one. There are so many points and quotes I wish I could commit to memory in verbatim. Although I wish I could include every single one in this review, I will settle for sharing one for now. In reference to Senator Strom Thurmond (1954-2003) a man who strongly supported preventing the “‘social intermingling of the races,’” the Senate Republican leader Trent Lott said: “‘When Storm Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all of these problems over all these years.’”
The fact that twenty years ago, the Senate leader for the Republican party would proudly be quoted on such a horrific statement just goes to show how far America has yet to go. The racism in this statement is undeniable (in case you were okay with excusing the systemic, more “hidden” racism that denies Black people home loans, create discriminatory AI algorithms, and ignore the undervaluation of missing Black women’s lives).
The author’s biting humor and frustration exhibits the emotional labor put into explaining arguments that should not have to be explained.
Although I said above I love the accessibility of this book, I also would love to see a deeper dive in rehabilitating and undermining the ideology behind white supremacy and institutional racism. As someone who has comprehensively studied terrorist ideology, this book has made me interested in how America can work to rehabilitate and de-radicalize white supremacists.
Though this is my first time reading work by Keith Boykin, it will not be my last. (Also bonus: AOC follows Keith Boykin on Instagram.)
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This was a fascinating, easy-to-follow book that laid out precise discussion points when asked questions about race. 

Laid out in a simple format, this book covers a lot of topics and provides in-depth answers for each of the 25 questions. No response is overwhelming and there is plenty of information to back up the answer. 

If you’re looking for a book that helps prepare you for uncomfortable conversations about race or just need reminders about talking points when engaged in a conversation about race, this book will be extremely helpful.
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This book is a must read. 
Keith Boykin has curated a list of the most common racist arguments and questions, and provides precise detailed answers to each of them. 

I did not know a lot about United States history (other than broad lines and ideas), but that was not an issue at all. Everything is explained within the arguments, and so this book does not require previous detailed or exact knowledge of events or laws. Every historical or current event mentioned is explained.

I particularly like that the author used quotes from recent events (such as tweets from politicians), to showcase how prevalent these racist ideas are and how relevant and important the answers are today. It is repeated multiple times in the book, but racism isn’t an issue of the past; it is still strong and everywhere, and it cannot be ignored.

Thank you NetGalley, PublicAffairs and Bold Type Books for the opportunity to read this ARC. 

(For some reason the format didn’t really work in my reader app and it made some of the pages especially the timeline hard to read which affected my reading experience but I’m not considering it in my rating because this is an ARC and the actual ebook will probably be better.)
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5 stars is not enough. This book is well crafted, well researched and so well organized. The author’s approach to navigating difficult topics is a breath of fresh air. The layout of the book makes for easy navigation to revisit specific ideas or topics. I thoroughly enjoyed the historical context paired with relevant current events. I’ve learned so much from this book. I will be highly recommending this book to anyone looking to expand their view on WHY “it’s always about race.”
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I love the tite for this book. When I first saw it, thought it was going to be yet another book that criticizes people for bringing up the racism that still infects society. But instead it is informative and provides knowledge that readers can use when it comes to debates with people who have opposing view. Each section of the book starts out with a quote from a prominent person that criticizes, gaslights or looks down on people who actively try to change the problems that still exist in the country. The author then includes a second quote from another prominent person that is a rebuttal to the first quote.

The information provided is presented in a easy to understand format and the author conveys the points without making it seem like a lecture. He also provides citations so that you can verify he is presenting actual facts and findings rather then presenting opinions as fact. The author also weaves in some of his personal life experiences,when relevant, to bring a personal touch to the subject.

This book would be a nice addition to the collection of anyone who likes to keep their finger on the pulse of the social issues in this country.
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How often have you been out at a gathering and heard that person whining about "everything being about race"? Or, as a USH teacher, how often did I hear students questioning "why do we have to spend so much time learning about slavery and Reconstruction"? Boykin's book does a fantastic job of explaining through his 25 arguments exactly why our discussions do so often need to include a frank consideration of the role of race. 

The chapter that stood out to me the most was one written as satire at its outset: Chapter 8 - Even the poorest white people have white privilege. It starts with a story of Keshawn, a Black teenager from Chicago, who makes a series of choices that lead him to a conservative event in Indiana with a weapon. What follows is a re-telling of the violence and death that he caused which is capped off not with his arrest, but with police asking for his help in finding the wounded. As I was reading this story, I found it almost absurd beyond words; however, when I picked up that Keshawn was Kyle and the conservative event in Indiana was a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, it clicked. That piece of satire was the perfect way to show how police and society treat people differently based on race, and that is one of the many reasons why this discussion matters. 

This book would be a good entry point for people looking to educate themselves on how issues related to race impact many different aspects of daily life. It is also an opportunity for the reader to examine their own privilege, or the fact that they don't realize they have it, and figure out how to make some positive change.
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