HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST
Ibram X. Kendi's concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America--but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. Instead of working with the policies and system we have in place, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it.
In his memoir, Kendi weaves together an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science--including the story of his own awakening to antiracism--bringing it all together in a cogent, accessible form. He begins by helping us rethink our most deeply held, if implicit, beliefs and our most intimate personal relationships (including beliefs about race and IQ and interracial social relations) and reexamines the policies and larger social arrangements we support. How to Be an Antiracist promises to become an essential book for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step of contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society.
Questions for Conversation...
(p. 15) Tom Skinner said: “Any gospel that does not speak to the issue of
enslavement and injustice and inequality - any gospel that does not want to
go where people are hungry and poverty-stricken and set them free in the
name of Jesus Christ - is not the gospel.” Do you agree?
(p. 18) Is every policy in every institution in every country “producing or
sustaining either racial inequity or equity between racial groups” ?
(p. 19) How can discrimination produce equity?
(p. 20) “The most threatening racist movement is not the alt right’s unlikely
drive for a White ethnostate but the regular American drive for a
“race-neutral” one.” What does Kendi mean by that? Do you agree?
(p. 22) Do you think that health care policies are intentionally designed to
shorten the lives of people of color?
By Kendi’s definitions of racist and anti-racist, are you striving to become a
racist or an antiracist?
4/29/2020 12:12:04 am
Thank you to those at PMC who are beginning this conversation here!
5/27/2020 09:43:56 pm
Thanks for the chapter and the introduction! Thought it was interesting, in particular the need to be discriminating to undo discrimination.
5/28/2020 11:37:37 am
Thanks for your comment, Andrew. Discrimination can be an important part of ant-racism work. As the article says, discrimination can either create equity or inequity (p. 19). How can discrimination be used to create equity and, in so doing, become an anti-racist act?
5/28/2020 12:31:14 pm
I have found Kendi's book to be enlightening, but very challenging. I read this entire book a few months ago, having checked it out from the library. I am thinking it would be worthwhile having my own copy. I think he is spot on with much of his analysis, especially as it relates to past discrimination and how we might contribute toward rectifying that today. The thought that racial discrimination can be considered "anti-racist" if it contributes to equity is a concept that those of us who are white need to deliberate on much more.
5/28/2020 12:59:15 pm
Good point, Ken. How CAN discrimination be an anti-racist act? "Racial discrimination" has been a term used in the past to describe acts that are inherently racist. But discrimination is, at its core, an act of discernment, of drawing distinction. It's used by scientists all the time to create categories so that we can understand processes, species, etc. better. What if we discriminated, not to further create inequity by placing a particular group on top and another on the bottom, but to begin to place underrepresented people higher up on the social/economic/political scale and, thereby, create greater equity? This was the effort of affirmative action which many people see as a failure. It is also a chief mindset behind the concept of reparations, which many discount as unworkable and "unjust" to those who work hard. Indeed, as you say, we who are white need to deliberate on this more.
Sylvia E Shirk
5/29/2020 03:40:14 pm
Thanks for offering this forum. I am glad to have found this memoir and read it several months ago.
5/29/2020 06:28:05 pm
Thanks, Sylvia. I'm aware of an event at Terry Schrunk Plaza to remember George Floyd that happened at 11:30 this morning and of another event that is happing this evening. This cycle can't go on. Criminal acts against black people followed by general disbelief (unless there's a video) followed by inaction. Now, we have three videos (Georgia, New York, and Minneapolis) of crimes against black men and many people are noticing. I'm aware that, during the 1960s, black bodies were similarly mowed down until the cameras started bringing pictures of the water cannons and the rubber bullets into people's living rooms. I was barely alive at that time, but I imagine that era felt similar to our own time now. Many important changes came out of the 1960s, though many things went back to racist business-as-usual. We must change.
5/29/2020 09:16:27 pm
Thanks for posting this chapter. When will we get the next chapter? I may have to go find the whole book to read right away.
5/29/2020 09:37:36 pm
The Voting Rights Act was passed 55 years ago. Yet, as you point out, there are still ways to suppress votes that don't fall under the jurisdiction of the VRA: requiring people to vote in-person on a single day within specified hours, "cleaning out" voting rolls for those who haven't voted in "x" years, gerrymandered districts that marginalize one or the other party, exact-name-match laws, intimidation of minorities / undocumented people. Voter suppression is indeed alive and well today.
6/13/2020 05:03:49 pm
Thank you for posting this chapter. I like how Kendi points out that doing nothing is still considered to be racism and how it takes a focused effort to become anti-racist. We can't just sit back on our laurels and hope things will get better. As a church of peace we should rise up and bring hope to the hopeless and peace to those who have no peace.
6/14/2020 08:06:46 pm
Good point, Jane! I've sometimes used the image of standing on a conveyor belt to describe three responses to racism. One can simply stand and be carried along by the conveyor (the racist system we live in). This is complicity. One can walk the direction of the conveyor. This is unapologetic white supremacy. Or one can walk against the conveyor. This is antiracism. I agree with you that we, as Christians, are called to walk against the conveyor.
6/24/2020 10:43:07 am
Listening to the audible recording. Quite excellent and well read. Ibram's intentions and emotional weight add allot to the book. Also the profits from it for this month go to anti-racist work.
6/24/2020 11:41:43 am
Listening to Kendi himself read the chapter. What a great way to engage with the text!
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