Book Review & Discussion : How to Be an Antiracist

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We are either racist or antiracist, there is nothing in between, argues this powerful memoir and political guide.

About this Event

In this event, you’ll learn

  • Know that racial injustice is embedded in the guidelines.

  • Why Racists think blacks are lesser than because they choose to act a certain way.

  • Why Racists believe that the biology of the races is different.

  • Why Racists believe that the color of one’s skin is an indicator of their goodness.

  • How white people think about other white people is still racist.

About the Author

Ibram X. Kendi is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University and the founding director of the BU Center for Antiracist Research. He is a contributing writer at The Atlantic and a CBS News correspondent. He is the author of many books including Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction, and three #1 New York Times bestsellers, How to Be an Antiracist; Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, co-authored with Jason Reynolds; and Antiracist Baby, illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky. In 2020, Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Overview

In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi uses his life story to chart his own path and the reader’s putative path from racism to antiracism, arguing that antiracism is the only way to combat racism—one cannot simply be neutral, “colorblind,” or not racist. Each chapter focuses on a different element of racism and weaves in stories, chronologically, from Kendi’s childhood to the present.

In the introduction, Kendi explains how, as a young man, he held racist ideas himself, thinking Black people were responsible for a lot of their own problems. He has now come to see that antiracism is the only way to eradicate racism, and counsels the reader to remember that racist and antiracist are not fixed, permanent states, but rather perches which we occupy interchangeably.

In “Definitions,” Kendi tells the story of his parents’ meeting and defines terms such as “racial inequities,” “racist policies,” and “racist ideas.” He provides statistics showing how racist power means that people of color, especially Black people, often face more deleterious conditions in most aspects of life in America.

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