Book Club: 4 things to know about ‘How to Raise an Antiracist’

Two book covers pictured side by side.
(One World; Ballantine Books)

Good morning, and welcome to the L.A. Times Book Club newsletter.

Ibram X. Kendi’s new book is an intensely personal journey through the birth of his first child and the ways in which fatherhood helped deepen his work.

“Like any parent, like any mother or father, I want to first and foremost protect my child,” the 39-year-old historian and National Book Award winner tells columnist Anita Chabria. “And when my daughter was born, I initially thought, or assumed or presumed without necessarily even thinking about it, that the way to protect her was to keep her away, if that’s even possible, from the toxicity of racism.”


Instead, Kendi says his experiences and research have taught him “quite the opposite.” He says it’s never too soon — or too late — to talk with children about race to teach and protect them at every age.

Here are 4 things to know about Kendi and his just-published “How to Raise an Antiracist” ahead of his L.A. Times Book Club conversation on June 22.

To raise an empathic child is to raise an antiracist child: “I think, particularly for younger kids, when we think about [modeling] antiracist behavior, it’s a behavior that’s akin to being considerate or sharing,” Kendi says.

The turbulent summer of 2020 inspired the MacArthur Genius grant winner to write “How to Raise an Antiracist.” Kendi says he was struck by the large numbers of young people filling the streets to protest racism and police violence.

Kendi also released a second book this week, “Goodnight Racism.” It’s a picture book for children. “I’m just excited to write a book that imagines what a world without racism would be, an antiracist society, and to really be able to present that to our youngest of people who have the greatest and most beautiful imaginations.” This week he spoke with L.A. Times Today anchor Lisa McCree about both books.

He doesn’t read for escape. “I tend to drink sangria,” he says. This week, Kendi curated an antiracist summer reading list for Parents magazine.

Join us: Get tickets for Wednesday’s in-person book club discussion with Kendi and Times columnist Sandy Banks. The event starts at 7 p.m. at USC’s Bovard Auditorium.

What would you like to ask? Share your questions for Kendi in advance of book club night in an email to

A man in a suit jacket talks into a microphone as he is interviewed.
Author Ibram X. Kendi.
(Michael Loccisano / Getty Images)

Hey, spaghetti arms

It’s official: We’re dirty dancing in July with Jennifer Grey. The actress and bestselling author will join book clubbers to discuss her memoir, “Out of the Corner,” with Times senior entertainment writer and “Bachelor Nation” author Amy Kaufman.

We’re headed back to the Montalbán Theatre in Hollywood on July 19, and nobody has to carry a watermelon. Get tickets.

Tell us: How many times have you seen “Dirty Dancing” and what are your favorite lines? We’ll share your comments in a future newsletter.

A photo of a woman next to a book cover with a photo of her when she was younger.
Jennifer Grey is the author of the memoir “Out of the Corner.”
(Brian Bowen Smith/ Ballantine Books)

Global California

On June 29, foreign correspondent Jaweed Kaleem will join readers for the latest installment of Ask a Reporter, the live meetup series where Times journalists discuss the news and answer your questions about the stories we cover.

Kaleem is based in London, where he has launched a multimedia series exploring California connections beyond the nation’s borders. He’ll discuss recent stories on the Golden State’s growing European connections, including the wave of expats popping up in Portugal, as well as California’s new role as culinary pipeline to the EU.

The event will be livestreaming on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Sign up at Eventbrite.

People in swim trunks bat a volleyball near a net. Others sunbathe. In the background are buildings and palm trees.
Volleyball on the beach in Cascais, an old village on the north of Lisbon, Portugal.
(Jose Sarmento Matos / For The Times)

More travel: In case you missed our May book club, you can still see “Letter to a Stranger” night with authors Maggie Shipstead, Pico Iyer, Michelle Tea and Colleen Kinder, and Times travel writer Christopher Reynolds. Watch now.

Keep reading

Bookstore closing. The owners of Eso Won Books, L.A.’s beloved Black-owned independent bookstore, will be closing their bricks-and-mortar store. Eso Won will shut its doors at the end of the year, but owners James Fugate and Tom Hamilton still will be our local bookselling partner for next week’s Kendi book club at USC. “James and Tom don’t just sell books, they provide a sense of community,” says author Lynell George. “They have worked, over all this time, to fill in the gaps especially for Black readers and authors. You’d walk in and you’d just see this bountiful selection and it was exciting to travel through it. ... I always feel rejuvenated after a visit with them.”

A table filled with stacks of books at a book shop.
Inside Eso Won Books in the Leimert Park neighborhood of Los Angeles.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

James Patterson feels the heat. The mega-bestselling author drew widespread criticism after saying white men faced “another form of racism” during a London Times interview about his autobiography. He later apologized.

Lit star. Just shy of her 20th birthday, Oakland poet-novelist phenom Leila Mottley just released her debut book, “Nightcrawling,” the latest Oprah Book Club pick. “I have a lot of time to grow,” Mottley says. “My writing is vastly different from what it was when I wrote this book, so I think that rapid growth means I’m going to get to reinvent myself a million different times.”

California Book Awards. This year, the Commonwealth Club’s gold medal winners include “The Archer” by Shruti Swamy (fiction); “Skinship,” by Yoon Choi (first fiction); “Paradise: One Town’s Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire” by Lizzie Johnson (nonfiction); and “Everything Now: Lessons From the City-State of Los Angeles” by Rosecrans Baldwin (Californiana).

Her favorite things. Academy Award winner and author Julie Andrews joined our book club for a memorable night at the Orpheum Theatre, just a few months before the pandemic hit. Andrews returned to L.A. this month and finally received her long-delayed AFI Life Achievement Award. Columnist Mary McNamara notes that the 86-year-old stage and screen star hasn’t let a global pandemic get in the way of her vital career. Andrews “managed to write three books, launch a podcast and voice the narrator of Shonda Rhimes’ smash hit ‘Bridgerton’ without much leaving her home in Sag Harbor, N.Y.” A third memoir also is in the works.

The Times' Mary McNamara, left, and Julie Andrews share a laugh while discussing Andrews' memoir, "Home Work."
(Ana Venegas / For The Times)

And he writes too! In an interview for the Millions, Jianan Qian talks with author and USC professor Percival Everett about Everett’s many skills: novel writing, abstract painting, training horses, repairing instruments and playing jazz guitar. “I never think of these things as challenges,” Everett says. “You live in the world. You do stuff. What else am I supposed to do with free time?”

Her stories. MSNBC host Katy Tur’s childhood began in an L.A. news helicopter. In a new memoir, “Rough Draft,” Tur digs into her family’s chaotic past, the pandemic, motherhood and the state of the news business.

The adventures of Al. Long Beach’s Lynne Cox braved the Bering Strait and the English Channel and wrote the book on swimming; her latest project is about daring water-rescue dogs, via the Long Beach Post.

L.A. Times’ “Behold.” This new photography series celebrates the roots, ambassadors and pillars of Black culture in L.A. and will be featured at today’s “Eat See Hear” Juneteenth event at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. The event also includes live music, food trucks and a screening of “42,” for the 75th anniversary year of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball.

Father’s Day finds. Reviewer Michael Schaub shares last-minute gift ideas for seven different kinds of book-loving dads.

If you enjoy our community book club. The Times has offered many book club conversations and other live journalism events free and virtual to make it easy for readers to connect with authors and newsmakers during the pandemic. Please consider supporting the new Los Angeles Times Community Fund.

Last word
“I’ll be absolutely candid and honest,” says LeVar Burton. “It’s embarrassing that we are banning books in this country; in this culture; in this day and age … Read the books they’re banning. That’s where the good stuff is!”