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How to Be an Antiracist
Cover of How to Be an Antiracist
How to Be an Antiracist
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERFrom the National Book Award–winning author of Stamped from the Beginning comes a "groundbreaking" (Time) approach to understanding and uprooting racism and inequality in...
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERFrom the National Book Award–winning author of Stamped from the Beginning comes a "groundbreaking" (Time) approach to understanding and uprooting racism and inequality in...
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  • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
  • From the National Book Award–winning author of Stamped from the Beginning comes a "groundbreaking" (Time) approach to understanding and uprooting racism and inequality in our society—and in ourselves.
    "The most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind."—The New York Times
    NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review Time • NPR • The Washington Post The Dallas Morning News
  • Shelf AwarenessLibrary Journal Publishers Weekly
    Antiracism is a transformative concept that reorients and reenergizes the conversation about racism—and, even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. At it's core, racism is a powerful system that creates false hierarchies of human value; its warped logic extends beyond race, from the way we regard people of different ethnicities or skin colors to the way we treat people of different sexes, gender identities, and body types. Racism intersects with class and culture and geography and even changes the way we see and value ourselves. In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi takes readers through a widening circle of antiracist ideas—from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilites—that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their posionous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves.
    Kendi weaves an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science with his own personal story of awakening to antiracism. This is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond the awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a just and equitable society.
    Praise for How to Be an Antiracist
    "Ibram X. Kendi's new book, How to Be an Antiracist, couldn't come at a better time. . . . Kendi has gifted us with a book that is not only an essential instruction manual but also a memoir of the author's own path from anti-black racism to anti-white racism and, finally, to antiracism. . . . How to Be an Antiracist gives us a clear and compelling way to approach, as Kendi puts it in his introduction, 'the basic struggle we're all in, the struggle to be fully human and to see that others are fully human.' "—NPR
    "Kendi dissects why in a society where so few people consider themselves to be racist the divisions and inequalities of racism remain so prevalent. How to Be an Antiracist punctures the myths of a post-racial America, examining what racism really is—and what we should do about it."Time

Excerpts-

  • From the book MY RACIST INTRODUCTION

    I despised suits and ties. For seventeen years I had been surrounded by suit-wearing, tie-choking, hat-flying church folk. My teenage wardrobe hollered the defiance of a preacher's kid.

    It was January 17, 2000. More than three thousand Black people—with a smattering of White folks—arrived that Monday morning in their Sunday best at the Hylton Memorial Chapel in Northern Virginia. My parents arrived in a state of shock. Their floundering son had somehow made it to the final round of the Prince William County Martin Luther King Jr. oratorical contest.

    I didn't show up with a white collar under a dark suit and matching dark tie like most of my competitors. I sported a racy golden-brown blazer with a slick black shirt and bright color-streaked tie underneath. The hem of my baggy black slacks crested over my creamy boots. I'd already failed the test of respectability before I opened my mouth, but my parents, Carol and Larry, were all smiles nonetheless. They couldn't remember the last time they saw me wearing a tie and blazer, however loud and crazy.

    But it wasn't just my clothes that didn't fit the scene. My competitors were academic prodigies. I wasn't. I carried a GPA lower than 3.0; my SAT score barely cracked 1000. Colleges were recruiting my competitors. I was riding the high of having received surprise admission letters from the two colleges I'd halfheartedly applied to.

    A few weeks before, I was on the basketball court with my high school team, warming up for a home game, cycling through layup lines. My father, all six foot three and two hundred pounds of him, emerged from my high school gym's entrance. He slowly walked onto the basketball court, flailing his long arms to get my attention—and embarrassing me before what we could call the "White judge."

    Classic Dad. He couldn't care less what judgmental White people thought about him. He rarely if ever put on a happy mask, faked a calmer voice, hid his opinion, or avoided making a scene. I loved and hated my father for living on his own terms in a world that usually denies Black people their own terms. It was the sort of defiance that could have gotten him lynched by a mob in a different time and place—or lynched by men in badges today.

    I jogged over to him before he could flail his way right into our layup lines. Weirdly giddy, he handed me a brown manila envelope.

    "This came for you today."

    He motioned me to open the envelope, right there at half-court as the White students and teachers looked on.

    I pulled out the letter and read it: I had been admitted to Hampton University in southern Virginia. My immediate shock exploded into unspeakable happiness. I embraced Dad and exhaled. Tears mixed with warm-up sweat on my face. The judging White eyes around us faded.

    I thought I was stupid, too dumb for college. Of course, intelligence is as subjective as beauty. But I kept using "objective" standards, like test scores and report cards, to judge myself. No wonder I sent out only two college applications: one to Hampton and the other to the institution I ended up attending, Florida A&M University. Fewer applications meant less rejection—and I fully expected those two historically Black universities to reject me. Why would any university want an idiot on their campus who can't understand Shakespeare? It never occurred to me that maybe I wasn't really trying to understand Shakespeare and that's why I dropped out of my English II International Baccalaureate class during my senior year. Then again, I did not read much of anything in those years.

    Maybe if I'd...

About the Author-

  • Ibram X. Kendi is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, a professor of history, and the founding director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. He is a columnist at The Atlantic and a correspondent with CBS News. He is the author of five books including Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction; How to Be an Antiracist; Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, co-authored with Jason Reynolds; and Antiracist Baby, illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky.

Reviews-

  • Library Journal

    March 1, 2019

    Kendi follows up his National Book Award-winning and New York Times best-selling Stamped from the Beginning by drawing on ethics, history, law, and science, not to mention personal narrative, to consider what an antiracist society might look like. Not colorblind, not nonracist, but antiracist; like a self-help book for society at large. Get ready to discuss.

    Copyright 2019 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    May 15, 2019
    Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award-winning author is no guidebook to getting woke. In fact, the word "woke" appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi's towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that "racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas," the author posits a seemingly simple binary: "Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas." The author, founding director of American University's Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. "Internalized racism," he writes, "is the real Black on Black Crime." Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi's life that exemplifies it--e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting "to be Black but...not...to look Black"--and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: "Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today." If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he's just as hard on himself. When he began college, "anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts." This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory. Not an easy read but an essential one.

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 3, 2019
    Kendi follows his National Book Award–winning Stamped from the Beginning with a boldly articulated, historically informed explanation of what exactly racist ideas and thinking are, and what their antiracist antithesis looks like both systemically and at the level of individual action. He weaves together cultural criticism, theory (starting each chapter with epigraph-like definitions of terms), stories from his own life and philosophical development (he describes his younger self as a “racist, sexist homophobe”), and episodes from history (including the 17th-century European debate about “polygenesis,” the idea that different races of people were actually separate species with distinct origins). He delves into typical racist ideas (e.g. that biology and behavior differ between racial groups) and problems (such as colorism), as well as the intersections between race and gender, race and class, and race and sexuality. Kendi puts forth some distinctive arguments: he posits that “internalized racism is the true Black-on-Black crime,” critiquing powerful black people who disparage other black people and racializing behaviors they disapprove of, and argues that black people can be racist in their views of white people (when they make negative generalizations about white people as a group, thereby espousing the racist idea that ethnicity determines behavior). His prose is thoughtful, sincere, and polished. This powerful book will spark many conversations. Agent: Ayesha Pande, Pande Literary.

  • Booklist

    July 1, 2019
    When we realize old words do not exactly and clearly convey what we are trying to describe, we should turn to new words, writes Kendi, winner of the National Book Award for Stamped from the Beginning (2016), in his memoir-with-history about confronting personal racism and embracing antiracism. Accordingly, to contextualize his experience as a Black youth, budding scholar, ethicist, and activist, he defines different kinds of racism (biological, behavioral) and describes antiracist policies and terms in light of racial strife today. While admirably fit for agitating discussion, some terms are confusing and feel labored, like Kendi's hyphenated identifiers: gender-racism, queer-racism, class-racism, space-racism. And his descriptions of his life in Queens, New York, Manassas, Virginia, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, seem structured to set himself up as proof of his sociological declaratives. (He decided to live in a poor neighborhood because he believed culture filtered upward, that Black elites, in all our materialism, individualism, and assimilationism, needed to go to the ?bottom' to be civilized. ) Kendi does successfully model self-examination and inspires readers to consider whether ignorance or self-interest drives racist policies into reality.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2019, American Library Association.)

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