The next book that I strongly suggest you read is How to Be an Antiracist written by Ibram X. Kendi. When I first saw the title of this book, I knew that I had to read it as soon as possible. I am glad that I read this book because for so many years I thought that you were either a racist or not a racist but now I know after reading this book that either a person is a racist or an antiracist.
I loved how Kendi was honest about his past and how he held on to racist ideas. When you read the book you will get the details of the speech that he gave that he is not proud of. This transparent moment in the book made me reflect on my antiracist journey. Since becoming a librarian I am finally gaining the vocabulary that I need to articulate my story which is dripping in white supremacy. We are all indoctrinated in white supremacy. And as a Black woman, I was forced to subscribe to whiteness to survive in predominantly white spaces. So I will be shedding the layers of this foolishness until the day that I die.
For so many years I truly believed that it was all Black people’s fault for how things are for us. I believed that “black on black” crime was real. I believed that if you work hard and tiptoed around white folks that your life would be good. I believed that if you complied with police that you would live during that interaction and make it home. I believed that we have to stop blaming the white man and take responsibility for our own actions. Once I began studying Black American history in my 20s I started to challenge these ideas about Black people. I think this book does a great job of providing examples of how these racist and anti-black ideas are not true. Kendi states, “To be an antiracist is to recognize there is no such thing as racial behavior. To be an antiracist is to recognize there is no such thing as Black behavior, let alone irresponsible Black behavior. Black behavior is as fictitious as Black genes. There is no “Black gene.” No one has ever scientifically established a single “Black behavioral trait.” No evidence has ever been produced, for instance, to prove that Black people are louder, angrier, nicer, funnier, lazier, less punctual, more immoral, religious, or dependent; that Asians are more subservient; that Whites are greedier. All we have are stories of individual behavior. But individual stories are only proof of the behavior of individuals. Just as race doesn’t exist biologically, race doesn’t exist behaviorally”(pg. 95).
This book also challenged me in one way which was the idea that I have held onto for years which is black people can not be racist because we do not have systematic or structural power. Kendi argues, “POWERLESS DEFENSE: The illusory, concealing, disempowering, and racist idea that Black people can’t be racist because Black people don’t have power”(pg. 136). He lets the reader know that Black people do have limited power to control policies and policymaking. In addition, to perpetuate and enforce racist policies. The keyword is LIMITED in his positioning of this idea. Kendi was able to convince me of his idea by the end of the Black chapter. I just hope that some white people do not use this an opportunity to deflect from their own racism. If they do then I will know that they are not willing to truly do the work of being an antiracist. Once I finished reading the chapter it reminded me of a past episode of Insecure. If you watch the show Insecure this idea that a Black person can be racist was definitely evident in an episode where a Black man principal did not want any of the Latinx students to participate in the after school program. This particular scene shows how a Black man had the authority to change the trajectory of other students of a different race. Black people that are in power must challenge racist policies. Let me know your thoughts on this idea that was posed by Kendi. Yes, as a Black person you can be anti-black. Being anti-black is such an acceptable way of being around the world. So it is my responsibility to continue to not be anti-black and to accept criticism from people that will call me out on any anti-black tropes.
I think this book is a Must-Read for everyone. Hopefully, you will want to be an antiracist. Let’s continue on this journey of challenging racist policies and start creating antiracist policies. In addition, let us continue to challenge racist ideas and create antiracist ideas. I am looking forward to discussing this book with my friends. Please leave your comments. I am excited to read your thoughts.