Why does everything have to be about race? 25 arguments that won't go away

Keith Boykin

Book - 2024

"The Civil War was about states' rights, not slavery!" "If you don't like it here, you should go back to Africa." "What about Black-on-Black crime?" "You're just playing the race card." There's a whole arsenal of popular "gotchas" that crop up again and again in discussions about race in America. According to the people who use them, Critical Race Theory is a dangerous threat that promotes racial hatred, and affirmative action is reverse discrimination. At the same time, they insist that racism ended with the Obama presidency, and Black people should be grateful for the privilege of living in the United States. In Why Does Everything Have to Be About Race? Keith Boykin se...ts the record straight, explaining why such all-too-common assertions are simply not true. Effortlessly combining history, pop culture, and stories from his own life, Boykin lays out the truth about anti-Black racism and white supremacy in America. Racist lies and misbeliefs just don't seem to go away-but with the help of this book, they also won't go unchallenged"--

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New York : Bold Type Books 2024.
Main Author
Keith Boykin (author)
First edition
Physical Description
xv, 270 pages ; 25 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 229-257) and index.
  • A brief chronology of race in America
  • Introduction
  • Part one: Erasing Black history
  • Barack Obama's election does not compensate for hundreds of years of racism
  • Critical race theory is not indoctrinating school kids to be "woke"
  • Dr. King didn't say America should be color-blind
  • Republicans are no longer the "party of Lincoln"
  • The Civil War was about slavery, not states' rights
  • Black History Month is still needed in a society that denies Black contributions
  • Part two: Centering white victimhood
  • Affirmative action is not "reverse discrimination"
  • Even the poorest white people have white privilege
  • Yes, European immigrants struggled, but they were not slaves
  • White Americans still benefit from the legacy of slavery
  • Being called a "Karen" is not comparable to being called the N-word
  • Part three: Denying Black oppression
  • Complying with the police does not protect us
  • No, we're not going back to Africa
  • Black people don't have to prove our patriotism
  • We will never reach equality without reparations
  • Part four: Myths of Black inferiority
  • There are more white people than Black people on welfare
  • "Black-on-Black crime" is an outdated media trope
  • Black families are not broken
  • Black cities struggle because of decisions by white policy makers
  • Part five: Rebranding racism
  • There is no "race card"
  • Black friends do not immunize people from racism
  • People who say they "don't have a racist bone in their body" haven't searched hard enough
  • Yes, you do see color, and there's nothing wrong with that
  • "All lives matter" is a cheap excuse to avoid saying "Black lives matter"
  • Yes, everything is about race.
Review by Booklist Review

CNN commentator and author Boykin (Race against Time, 2021), cofounder of the National Black Justice Coalition, shares his personal experiences and reflections on topics of race and the Black experiences that continue to shape America. Breaking down the title's "25 arguments" into five themes--Erasing Black History, Centering White Victimhood, Denying Black Oppression, Myths of Black Inferiority, and Rebranding Racism--the book covers events from the author's own life as well as his extensive research on important moments and reactions in American history, from the Civil War to the election of President Obama and the recent prohibition of the AP African American Studies exam in Florida. Altogether, Boykin's approach underscores the pervasive role race plays in America and how and why anti-Blackness and systemic racism persist. The book also serves as a reference guide on past and contemporary issues of race in America. Readers seeking books in Black Studies, civil rights, and issues of discrimination will find this one thought-provoking and crucial to understanding and dismantling the anti-Black consciousness that endures in American society.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Informed rebuttals of false claims about Black Americans. Boykin, the founder of the National Black Justice Coalition and author of Race Against Time, delivers a series of arguments that target misconceptions about the realities of Black life in America and the persistence of white supremacy. The brief chapters, written in an accessible style and often including personal anecdotes, are divided into five broad themes: the erasure of Black history, the insistence on white victimhood, the denial of Black oppression, the promotion of myths of Black inferiority, and the masking of racist rhetoric. The author debunks familiar but flawed reasoning across a range of contentious topics, including the rationale behind affirmative action, the fate of Confederate monuments, the racial content of school curricula, and the significance of Barack Obama's presidency. As Boykin credibly suggests, the persistence and popularity of bogus logic in debates about race can often be attributed to a reluctance among white Americans to acknowledge responsibility for longstanding injustices. The most insightful and memorable chapter engages the controversy surrounding critical race theory and the vagueness of the attacks directed against it. Also helpful is the author's demolition of the argument that the Civil War was not fought over slavery, or that slavery itself is merely a historical artifact, without profound and continually unfolding consequences. Boykin could have done more to connect discussions of anti-Black racism with other forms of white supremacist ideology; for instance, he only mentions in passing deeply held prejudices against Native Americans and Asian Americans. Nevertheless, the author furnishes a useful guide to confronting misconceptions about Black America and makes a convincing case that race matters in so many conversations because it has always been a defining--if often poorly understood--feature of national life. A clarifying set of arguments about Black lives past and present. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.