How to be an Antiracist

How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi is everywhere right now and you are lucky if you can get your hands on a copy (link is to local Mahogany Books where it is presently – July 14, 2020 – backordered). How to be an Antiracist included a good amount of the history found in Stamped (reviewed here) but woven in and among personal stories and Kendi’s own theories on racism and antiracism. I enjoyed reading Kendi’s own stories and learned a great deal from his theories, but, in moments, found the text a bit dry. I imagine this is mostly because I just read Stamped where the style (Jason Reynolds’) is quite different. Overall, however, How to be an Antiracist is an informative and important read.

“The history of racist ideas is the history of powerful policy-makers erecting racist policies out of self-interest, then producing racist ideas to defend and rationalized the inequitable effects of their policies, while everyday people consume those racist ideas, which in turn sparks ignorance and hate. Treating ignorance and hate and expecting racism to shrink suddenly seemed like treading a cancer patient’s symptoms and expecting the tumors to shrink. The body politic might feel better momentarily from the treatment–from trying to eradicate hate and ignorance–but as long as the underlying cause remains, the tumors grow, the symptoms return, and inequities spread like cancer cells, threatening the life of the body politic. Educational and moral suasion is not only a failed strategy. It is a suicidal strategy.”

(page 230)

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