...another stunner of a book that is in some ways [Kendi's] previous work’s natural counterpart ... Instead of focusing on our racist ideas, Kendi offers up a wrenching examination of the evolution of his ... Kendi rejects the now-hackneyed notion that blacks cannot be racist because they do not have power ... He shifts our attention away from people’s ethnic identities to the racist nature of their ideas and policies, and argues that these are the things on which we should judge a person. While acknowledging the reality of racism in contemporary life, Kendi wants to free us from using tainted ideas to stigmatize people and support policies that define others as inferior ... What emerges from these insights is the most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind, a confessional of self-examination that may, in fact, be our best chance to free ourselves from our national nightmare.
...an essential instruction manual ... [Kendi's] transparency serves as an invitation to all of us to accept and grow from our racist behavior. It is one of many components that makes How to Be an Antiracist so accessible ... I found myself resisting Kendi's perspective on more than one occasion. Yet in every case, either his unassailable reasoning, helpful historical context, illuminating data, or some combination of the above won me over ... How to Be an Antiracist gives us a clear and compelling way to approach, as Kendi puts it in his introduction, 'the basic struggle we're all in, the struggle to be fully human and to see that others are fully human.'
The persona reflected in this memoir is compellingly attractive in important respects ... That [Kendi] was able to marshal the wherewithal to push his manuscript through to publication in the face of such grim circumstances warrants applause ... Kendi also displays an admirable independence and candor. Though he situates himself far to the left among black activist intellectuals, he is unafraid to say things likely to singe the sensibilities of many of his potential followers ... Kendi’s book suffers, alas, from major flaws. On one page he posits the interesting and potentially fruitful idea that 'racist' ought not to be used as a pejorative term connoting a moral failing but ought instead to be used clinically, as a strictly descriptive term of analysis. On an adjacent page, however, without qualification, he condemns racism as a 'crime' ... In the most obtuse pages, Kendi condemns standardized testing, disparages the significance of what should be alarming racial patterns in academic achievement gaps and excoriates efforts to redress those gaps by elevating the scores of those (typically disadvantaged students of color) lagging behind. His polemic is littered with misleading red herrings, as when he says that implicit in the idea of academic achievement gaps, as measured by statistical instruments like test scores and dropout rates, is a conviction that the qualities measured by such criteria constitute 'the only form of academic ‘achievement.’' There is no such necessary implication ... Despite misgivings about various features of How to Be an Antiracist, we should fervently hope to see more work from Kendi in the months and years to come. His subject, the vexing American race question, retains a towering and tragic salience. In grappling with it, we could use Kendi’s candor, independence and willingness to be self-critical.