Title: How to Be an Antiracist
Author: Ibram X. Kendi
Summary: Ibram X. Kendi’s concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America—but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. In How to be an Antiracist, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it. In this book, Kendi weaves together an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science, bringing it all together with an engaging personal narrative of his own awakening to antiracism. How to Be an Antiracist is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society.
No one becomes a racist or antiracist. We can only strive to be one or the other…. Like fighting an addiction, being an antiracist requires persistent self-awareness, constant self-criticism, and regular self-examination.
I read How to Be an Antiracist over a period of weeks but have been thinking about it for over two months, wondering how I could best articulate my thoughts. (To be honest, I really haven’t gotten there yet.) Kendi’s book is a manual of sorts but also a personal history of his own introduction to, and grappling with, racism, each chapter furthering his story while also pulling out and focusing on broader, intersectional themes. I’ve read a few “social justice” titles this summer to better understand my own role in white supremacy, but this one spoke to me the most. I connected with Kendi through his story of self-actualization and his ability to craft beautiful sentences. (I know he’s just an editor, but his involvement with Four Hundred Souls was the reason I put it on my tbr.)
Examining all the ways I’ve failed as an ally is not something that necessarily feels good, but the awareness of that gap has been a long overdue, eye-opening experience—and ultimately for the best. Returning to Kendi’s book is something I’d like to do in the future, and I’m disappointed I borrowed it from the library instead of purchasing it. I want to reexplore the text with fresh eyes but still be able to compare which passages speak to me. Would I highlight the same ones I did the first time? Or would different ideas feel more relevant? I hardly ever reread books, but this one is certain to feel just as evergreen.
If you haven’t yet read How to Be an Antiracist, I encourage you to do so. The hype is warranted.