As the George Floyd protests rated in 2020, I made a commitment to read and learn more about how to address racism in our country. In terms of their impact on me, the two most influential books I read were this one and Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson. The premise of Mr. Kendi’s book is simple: Not being a racist is not enough. If you are going to be part of the change, you must be an antiracist. “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. The opposite of racist isn’t ‘not racist.’ It is ‘antiracist.'” The book then goes into how to be an antiracist. A few key takeaways, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. This is a book worth reading more than once.
- Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackman wrote, “In order to get beyond racism, we must first take account of race. There is no other way. And in order to treat some persons equally, we must treat them differently.”
- “To be an antiracist is to recognize that there is no such thing as racial behavior.”
- “To be an antiracist is to think nothing is behaviorally wrong or right – superior or inferior – with any of the racial groups.”
- “White supremacists love what America used to be, even though America used to be – and still is – teeming with millions of struggling White people. White supremacists blame non-White people for the struggles of White people when any objective analysis of their plight primarily implicates the rich White Trumps they support.” For some, the Trump reference will be offensive. But if offended by that, one is probably also offended by Jesus Christ’s “eye of the needle” passage in Matthew 19:24.
- “One of racism’s harms is the way it falls on the unexceptional Black person who is asked to be extraordinary just to survive – and, even worse, the Black screwup who faces the abyss after one error, while the White screwup is handed second chances and empathy.”
I’ll stop there. But there’s more. I have work to do, and I know I’m not alone.