Does the conversation on race need a reset?
That is the question that Coleman Hughes and Kenan Malik explored when they came to Intelligence Squared in January 2022. Hughes is an acclaimed American writer and podcast host. In 2019 at the age of 23 he testified before Congress against reparations for slavery and has roundly criticised the work of other Black writers on race such as Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo. In his view, their brand of anti-racism encourages a sense of victimhood among Black Americans and sows division between different racial groups. Malik is a British author and broadcaster, whose new book Not So Black and White explores the history of the idea of race and invites us to challenge many of the assumptions behind today’s culture wars. Are Black or Asian people who are conservative or don’t fit the script in some other way not really Black or Asian but straining to be white, as some anti-racists suggest? Do the current conversations about race hide the reality of class-based injustice? Can we ultimately free ourselves from racial categories while also ridding society of racism?
‘A precious provocation. Combining valuable historical observations with acute political commentary, Malik unsettles the absurdities, pieties and default settings of contemporary race-talk.’ — Paul Gilroy, author of The Black Atlantic
‘From one of our keenest and clearest guides through the labyrinths of identity, this book fills me with hope. A tour de force of courageous and empathetic common sense.’ — Thomas Chatterton Williams, author of Self-Portrait in Black and White
‘This erudite, sensitive book overturns the core assumptions of contemporary identity politics. Highly recommended for all looking beyond the narrow confines of purity politics to embrace the complexities of what it is to be human, and construct a better world.’ — Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò, author of Against Decolonisation