Race Rules: What Your Black Friend Won’t Tell You
“Those looking to move beyond performative allyship will find this an excellent resource.” —Publishers Weekly
"Well-informed, hard-hitting advice for antiracists.” —Kirkus Reviews
What if there were a set of rules to educate people against race-based social faux pas that damage relationships, perpetuate racist stereotypes, and harm people of color? This book provides just that in an effort to slow the malignant domino effect of race-based ignorance in American communities and workplaces to help address the vestiges of our nation’s racist past.
Race Rules is an innovative, practical manual for white people of the unwritten rules relating to race, explaining the unvarnished truth about racist and offensive white behaviors. It offers a unique lens from Fatimah Gilliam, a light-skinned Black woman, and is informed by the revealing things white people say when they don't realize she's Black.
Presented as a series of race rules, this book has each chapter tackling a specific topic many people of color wish white people understood. Combining history and explanations with practical advice, it goes beyond the theoretical by focusing on what's implementable.
Gilliam addresses issues such as:
- Racial blinders and misperceptions
- White privilege
- Racial stereotypes
- Everyday choices and behaviors that cause racial harm
Introducing a straightforward universal three-step framework to unlearn racism and challenge misconceptions, this book offers readers a chance to change behaviors and shift mindsets to better navigate cross-racial interactions and relationships. Through its race etiquette guidelines, it teaches white people to become action-oriented racism disruptors instead of silent, complicit supporters of white supremacy.
Praise for Race Rules: What Your Black Friend Won’t Tell You
" ...Gilliam’s tone is refreshingly frank throughout, and her advice is generous and detailed, whether she’s unpacking the latent racism in everyday interactions (for example, the use of coded language and phrases, including discussion of ‘Black-on-Black crime’ and ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ neighborhoods) or racial inequities woven through social systems (including voter restrictions and school zoning). Those looking to move beyond performative allyship will find this an excellent resource."
“A practical manual for white people who are ‘floundering in cross-racial interactions and slipping when sharing views on people of color.’ . . . Well-informed, hard-hitting advice for antiracists.”
“Bold and thought-provoking. Fatimah Gilliam doesn’t shy away from hard truths we must hear, say, and do to hold ourselves accountable and disrupt racism.”
—Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation
“Fatimah Gilliam uncovers racism where it is most effortlessly reproduced – in the quotidian interactions that confirm and maintain our sense of what is normal in society. She recognizes that the deep structural persistence of racism can be challenged in significant ways if all of us (but especially those with superior privilege) develop repertoires for everyday disruptive practices.”
—Angela Y. Davis, Distinguished Professor Emerita, UC Santa Cruz; 2020 Time 100 Icon; and 1971 Time Woman of the Year
“Pay attention to every word of this book. Building a truly just society depends on truth telling about how even allies benefit from systemic racism and unwittingly contribute to racial trauma. This is hard work, but, as Fatimah Gilliam suggests, this is necessary medicine. Race Rules invites us to dream of a different future, and gives us the tools we need for individual and social healing.”
—Rabbi Sharon Brous, Founding Rabbi of IKAR
“This action-oriented book is a groundbreaking tool for disrupting racism and moving our country toward progress one person at a time.”
—Congressman Jamaal Bowman, US House of Representatives
“This self-improvement book on unlearning racism is courageous. Fatimah Gilliam rolls up her sleeves, steps onto an empty platform that many dare not approach, taps the microphone, and speaks with the power of truth.”
—Harry Lennix, actor
“Fatimah Gilliam says the quiet part out loud. She tells readers what they need to hear and are too afraid to ask. Race Rules is deeply pragmatic, serving as an instruction manual on creating anti-racist workplaces and communities.”
—Naheed K. Nenshi, former Mayor, Calgary, Canada
“This eye-opening book provides rare access to the inner thoughts many people of color privately think but don’t share, lifting the veil to help readers learn. It includes history, straight-talk advice, and a healthy dose of action steps. Fatimah Gilliam goes beyond the Black experience. Race Rules discusses how structural racism and implicit bias broadly harm all people of color, including Native peoples. A critical book!”
—Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, voting rights and federal Indian law scholar, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University
“‘I don’t see color.’ ‘I’m not a racist but…’ This book explains why microaggressions communicate white supremacist messages even when people think they’re communicating the opposite. Fatimah Gilliam is the Black friend who tells white America how and why particular phrases wound and damage. She is the Black friend who corrects invalid beliefs about race and racism. This is an important book that unpacks the harms of language and the beliefs behind the language used.”
—Professor William Darity, Jr., Director of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity, Duke University
“Remarkably witty, audacious, and vital. An absolute page turner. A kick-in-the-pants reference book for whites about systemic racism. Superb for everyday, corporate, and HR readers and classroom instruction.”
—Professor Taura Taylor, race scholar and sociologist, Morehouse College
“Race Rules is a refreshing and groundbreaking road map to tackling racism. This book provides practical, real-time advice on what to actually do. It’s a transformative how-to guide to course-correct for daily microaggressions, behaviors, and choices that can offend and harm people of color.”
—Jennifer Brown, inclusive leadership expert and bestselling author of How to Be an Inclusive Leader