"How To Be An Antiracist" Blog
by Janice Landrum on September 13, 2020
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi – Introduction
I doubt any of you willingly identifies as racist. I know I am intentionally trying to erase years of conscious and unconscious education I absorbed about race, much of which was biased. If you wonder what you might have unknowingly absorbed from your culture, try taking the Implicit Bias test, here at the Harvard website. https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html It’s quick, free, anonymous, and illuminating.
Despite the ways I may unconsciously react with racial bias, my conscious desire is for a world which is fair and equal in opportunity. So it was interesting to me that Ibram X. Kendi says in the introduction to his book that “racist” is not a negative term, but a descriptive term. Undoing racism, he says, requires that we identify it and describe it so that we can dismantle it. And he challenges us, explaining that the opposite of “racist” isn’t “not racist” but “antiracist.” An antiracist confronts racial practices and policies which lead to inequities. In other words, an antiracist doesn’t just want a world which is fair and equal; in order for my desire for a fair and equal world to become a reality, I’ll need to consider the policies I may not even think about which maintain an unfair status quo.
Kendi also shares this “good news”: our identities are not unchangeable. We can be racist one minute and antiracist the next. So try that Implicit Bias test. What do you learn about yourself? What does it mean for you?
I hope many of you can participate in the All Saints’ Zoom discussion of How to Be An Antiracist at 10:30 AM on Saturday, October 3; but I know some of you cannot, and some of you may find it useful to talk in advance of the session and after, as a lead-up to the presentation by the author himself on October 22, 7 PM, also via Zoom. A couple of times a week I’ll post questions here for online discussion. You’ll need to register in order to respond, and I hope you will. Please feel free to share this link with anyone else you know who is reading this book.
Kendi weaves his personal history into each chapter, so that we see him grow up as we grow in understanding of racism and antiracism. How did you react to Kendi’s school interview when he asked the teacher if she was the only black teacher?
This book is full of research, statistics, and facts. List one of the facts from the first few chapters which really surprised you. Why were you surprised?