“What’s the problem with being ‘not racist?’ It is a claim that signifies neutrality: I am not a racist, but neither am I aggressively against racism. But there is no neutrality in the racism struggle… One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an antiracist. There is no in-between safe space of ‘not racist. The claim of ‘not racist’ neutrality is a mask for racism.”
“History is calling the future from the streets of protest. What choice will we make? What world will we create? What will we be? There are only two choices: racist or anti-racist.”
“It is empty when politicians call for healing and peace without stating the specific anti racist policies they’re aiming to institute. Words can bring momentary healing and peace. Policy change can bring lasting healing and peace by rooting out the racism suffocating so many people. We can’t breathe. We want to breathe.”
-IBRAM X. KENDI
2 thoughts on “DR IBRAM X. KENDI”
I can appreciate what Kendi is saying in terms of taking action, versus remaining passive. But I think his racism/anti-racism dichotomy is problematic. I say that because he frames up toleration of inequities of any kind as being inherently racist. Yet disparities between various groups, even when discrimination isn’t a determining factor, are the rule, not the exception. For instance, wealth disparities exist between whites, and asians, between Jews, and whites, between Catholics and Protestants, and even between whites of varying European decent. That is not said to deny the existence of discrimination. The point here is that socio-economic outcomes have complex causes, and boiling disparities down to nothing other than racism is unhelpful in creating a productive dialogue about them.
I agree with Kendi that it is empty when politicians call for peace without advocating for policy. For instance, I would love to see policies that end mass incarceration, no-knock warrants, and qualified immunity.
But when someone chooses to not be racist, that does not signify neutrality. By definition, it is a claim that rejects the notion that anyone should ever be judged, or discriminated against because of their skin color. Therefore, it stands in stark contrast to racism. Kendi’s neutrality claim is a non-sequitur.
Thank you for sharing your viewpoint.