The Atlantic Daily: The Limits of Anti-racism Books

Two writers warn against treating even well-intended works as a cure-all.

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As America continues to reckon with systemic racism, anti-racist reading lists are everywhere. But two of our writers warn against treating even well-intended works as a cure-all.

These books need to be paired with concrete, structural changes.

“When offered in lieu of actionable policies regarding equity, consciousness raising can actually undermine Black progress by presenting increased knowledge as the balm for centuries of abuse,” Saida Grundy, an assistant sociology and African American–studies professor, writes.

White Fragility talks down to Black people.

John McWhorter criticizes the popular book by Robin DiAngelo: “Despite the sincere intentions of its author, the book diminishes Black people in the name of dignifying us.”


One question, answered: Should I be washing my mask? asks Linda Wieland from Ottawa, Canada.

In response, James Hamblin goes into the weeds on mask science in his latest “Paging Dr. Hamblin” column—and I encourage you to read his fascinating and useful run-through. But here’s the short version:

Avoiding overwashing is especially relevant to masks, because the tightness and integrity of the fibers is essential to their function. … After wearing them for a day or so, or in a high-contact scenario, let them sit for a few days in a sunny, out-of-the-way place. Between the effects of time and light, there should be little need for running a washing machine or going through the hassle of hand-washing your masks.

Read the rest here. Every Wednesday, we take questions from readers about health-related curiosities, concerns, and obsessions. Have one? Email Jim at

What to read if … you read about the Twitter crackdown on QAnon—and need a refresher:

Adrienne LaFrance’s deep dive is worth revisiting: “To look at QAnon is to see not just a conspiracy theory but the birth of a new religion.”

What to read if … you’re waiting to see whether schools will open in the fall:  

Dave Grohl is a beloved musician who’s played in bands such as Nirvana and the Foo Fighters. He’s also the son of a public-school teacher.

Grohl argues that, when it comes to questions around reopening, America’s educators deserve a plan, not a trap.

What to read if … you want practical tips: