Frequently Asked White Questions

By Ajay Parasram and Alex Khasnabish  

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Are you a student?

Are you a white person with questions about how race affects different situations, but you feel awkward, shy, or afraid to ask the people of colour in your life? Are you a racialized person who is tired of answering the same questions over and over? This book is for you: a basic guide for people learning about racial privilege. In Frequently Asked White Questions, Alex Khasnabish and Ajay Parasram answer ten of the most common questions asked of them by people seeking to understand how race structures our every day. Drawing from their lived experiences as well as live sessions of their monthly YouTube series Safe Space for White Questions, the authors offer concise, accessible answers to questions such as, “Is it possible to be racist against white people?” or “Shouldn’t everyone be treated equally?” With humour and compassion, this book offers relatable advice and a practical entry point into conversations about race.

Frequently Asked White Questions makes an important contribution to the literature on race. The book is a practical, readable, no-nonsense guide providing answers to questions that white people frequently ask about race. Parasram and Khasnabish take a complex, emotionally charged, serious subject and make it accessible and interesting to readers. Their goal is to invite people, especially white people, into conversations about race and to do so without shaming or dissing them yet holding whites accountable for our role in maintaining white privilege and white supremacy. They do a masterful job of explaining complex terms and ideas (e.g., critical race theory, cultural appropriation, structural racism) in clear, direct language, debunking the mythologies about them created in our everyday discourse, and giving people the tools to respond when the terms are misused. The book is focused on Canadian issues regarding race, primarily around Indigenous Peoples and colonialism, but these issues have broad relevance throughout the world, and are especially salient for US readers. The book provides an excellent way for US readers to understand white supremacy as an issue that is not limited to the US. The authors use numerous examples of real conversations people might have and provide pragmatic suggestions for how to keep those conversations going plus good advice for when people should consider not engaging in further conversation. This book offers an excellent addition to our toolbox for moving the discourse on building an equitable and inclusive society forward.”

— Fern L. Johnson & Marlene G. Fine, authors of Let’s Talk Race: A Guide for White People

“A gutsy, clear, compelling pep talk for the white anti-racist. The candour and focus on practice will reach many people.”

— Ardath Whynacht, author of Insurgent Love

“This book is a gift. In clear, accessible, thoughtful, and often hilarious prose the authors outline ten questions who’re people tend to ask about race and racism. Ajay and Alex provide context, break down examples, and leave readers—especially white readers like myself— with a clear set of steps for recognizing, addressing, and dismantling racism in their own lives and in their broader communities. I will use this book as a teaching text, give it as a gift, and keep a copy for my own resources.”

— Erin Wunker, author of Notes from a Feminist Killjoy

  • Race & Racism
  • ISBN: 9781773635576
  • Forthcoming November 2022
  • 128 Pages
  • $18.00
  • For sale worldwide

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Contents

  • Introduction: For FAWQ’s Sake
  • Can you be racist against white people?
  • How do we fix past wrongs without creating new ones?
  • How does racism relate to other forms of oppression?
  • How can I make anti-racism part of my family life?
  • How can I talk about social justice without turning people off?
  • What’s the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation?
  • Can members of an oppressed group be oppressors?
  • How can white people be involved in anti-racist struggles without centring themselves?
  • How can I be anti-racist in my everyday life?
  • How can we build the world we deserve?
  • Conclusions: The Race Card

Authors

  • Ajay Parasram

    Dalhousie University

    Ajay Parasram is a multigenerational transnational byproduct of the British empire, with roots in South Asia, the Caribbean and the settler cities of Halifax, Ottawa and Vancouver. He is an associate professor in the Departments of International Development Studies, History and Political Science at Dalhousie University in Kjipuktuk (Halifax), unceded Mi’kma’ki. His research interests surround the colonial present, or the many ways through which strings of historical colonial entanglements continue to tighten the limit of political action today, and how those strings might be undone.

  • Alex Khasnabish

    Professor, Mount Saint Vincent University

    Alex Khasnabish is a writer, researcher and teacher committed to collective liberation living in Halifax, on unceded and unsurrendered Mi’kmaw territory. He is a professor in sociology and anthropology at Mount Saint Vincent University. His research focuses on radical imagination, radical politics, social justice and social movements.

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