[Law & Liberty] Up From Race
A provocative new book attempts to define — so as to better tackle — our modern obsession with race.
Not So Black and White: A History of Race from White Supremacy to Identity Politics. By Kenan Malik. Hurst; 380 pages; $29.99.
Kenan Malik is the archetype of an old-school antiracist. While the preface to Not So Black and White (2023) recounts his youthful epiphany that “a person’s skin, ethnicity or culture provides no guide to the validity of his beliefs”, the author’s own lived experience being non-white amounts to the book’s warmest endorsement. Malik’s journey to realizing the disconnect between race and truth appears conditioned from the get-go by his background. The Indian-born son of immigrants into 1970s crisis-struck Britain, he enlisted as a teen into antiracist neighborhood patrols and keeps no “mental tally” of the times he got into fights with “racists”. Having to pick one intellectual most incensed by the persistence of bigotry and ethnic discrimination in today’s West, Malik’s readers would likely choose him on par with the Kendis and DiAngelos of the world. And yet Malik defies one unspoken rule of Anglo-American politics: that left-wing ethnics are necessarily “woke”, as defined by the worldwide reaction to George Floyd’s death in police custody in 2020. The author clamors instead to “escape from the identitarian trap and uncage ourselves from our race obsession”. Malik is a man of the progressive left, mind you, but he is as thoroughly unwoke as he is repulsed by racism.
Continue reading the entire book review at Law & Liberty here.