Replacing the Phrase ‘I’m Not Racist,’ with ‘I’m an Antiracist’

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Ibram Kendi

By Paulina Buelna and Dayana Esquivel

NEW YORK – On his podcast, NY times Journalist Ezra Klein interviewed author Ibram X. Kendi to discuss his ideas in his book “How to be an Antiracist.”

Society has changed drastically since the release of Kendi’s book in 2019. The world has gone through a global pandemic and the advocating for racial injustices has grown wider.

As the racial injustice movement has heightened, Kendi’s antiracist ideologies have become the backbone for many organizations, corporations, and school curriculums, looking to educate more people on racial inequalities.

Through his book, many people have resonated with his take on how to be an ally in the anti-racist movement. Ibram X Kendi during the podcast said his authenticity and transparency were what lured people to read his book.

He said openly, “I wrote a book admitting and being vulnerable about the times in which I thought there was something wrong with Black poor people or Black women or Black people or even white people. And I used myself and really my growth and I decided to be vulnerable to do so.”

Since the 2020 protests broke out during the George Floyd Movement, people have been pushing for policy change to counter institutionalized racism.

Author Kendi revealed to Ezra that he believed it was racist policies perpetuating racial injustices in society. He added it was “racist policies that were then leading to racist ideas. And then people were consuming those racist ideas, which was then leading to ignorance and hate.”

Kendi disclosed that policies enforced are not always ethical but the general public blindly believes they always are which can lead to citizens acting in unethical matters. This is how policies can exuberate racist ideologies in people.

In recent years the Republican party has made it part of their agenda to make it harder for citizens to vote. Author Kendi supported his claim of constitutional policies being at the forefront of racism by speaking about the current voting restricting laws.

Kendi added, “They (the GOP) has gone about instituting these racist voter suppression policies, which primarily make it harder for Black, Brown, and indigenous people to vote — but really, it makes it harder for all people to vote — and then justified those policies with ideas of voter fraud.”

Kendi makes the purpose of antiracism clear as he discusses the Jim Crow era.

Those who wanted to maintain racism after the civil rights movement turned to different policies that tiptoed around laws. Kendi emphasizes, “The intent and argue that the only policies that are racist are the policies that, quote, ‘have racial language in them.’ ”

The purpose of antiracism is to actively pursue to take down racist policies and. Kendi discusses how being “not racist” is not the same as “I’m an antiracist.” Instead people who are antiracist are supporting struggles for justice and equity rather than being symbolic.

The corporate example of this past year is the increase of investments towards diversity, equity, and inclusion training in companies.

Kendi speaks about the true impact of these said trainings. The level of knowledge of how to be more inclusive and discover how individuals think in a racist mindset unknowingly cannot be covered in a one-hour training.

Kendi introduces the idea that training should be individual changing centered versus person-centered. The difference being that individual changing allows someone to see ways internal policies and practices to the company can be improved and changed. This will make a difference, he said.

Kendi explained federal policies during presidential eras policies such as the Affordable Care Act that closed the gap between the insurance rates between Black, Brown and white Americans. He urged that people must learn from past acts in order to strengthen and learn what works in society for the people.

The interview concluded with Author Kendi expressing his concern for future generations, and how he hopes with policy change the next generation has a chance of abolishing racial inequality.

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About The Author

Paulina Buelna is a second year History of Public Policy and Law major at UC Santa Barbara and aspires to become an attorney. She is from Los Angeles, CA.

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2 thoughts on “Replacing the Phrase ‘I’m Not Racist,’ with ‘I’m an Antiracist’”

  1. Ron Oertel

    I thought there was something wrong with Black poor people or Black women or Black people or even white people.

    “Even white people”?

    The entire phrase (not just that part) struck me as amusing.

  2. Alan Miller

    being “not racist” is not the same as “I’m an antiracist.”

    Best not to declare oneself as either, publicly, as either one opens one up to criticism similar to  declaring, “I’m a racist”.

    The corporate example of this past year is the increase of investments towards diversity, equity, and inclusion training in companies.

    Also known as the Robin DeAngelo full employment act.

    The level of knowledge of how to be more inclusive and discover how individuals think in a racist mindset unknowingly cannot be covered in a one-hour training.

    I believe that is unknowingly known.

    Kendi introduces the idea that training should be individual changing centered versus person-centered.

    Those are different . . . how?

    The difference being that individual changing allows someone to see ways internal policies and practices to the company can be improved and changed.

    That was only one of the ‘centereds’, so I still don’t know what the difference is.

    This will make a difference, he said.

    If he says so.

    the Affordable Care Act that closed the gap between the insurance rates between Black, Brown and white Americans.

    And increased medical insurance rates for everyone.

    he hopes with policy change the next generation has a chance of abolishing racial inequality.

    Good luck with that.

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