Aspen Ideas Festival: 'How to be an Antiracist'

Ibram X. Kendi talking about
Ibram X. Kendi talking about "How to be an Antiracist" at the Aspen Ideas Festival.
Riccardo Savi | The Aspen Institute

This session at the Aspen Ideas Festival had the same title as Ibram Kendi's new book coming out in August, "How to Be an Antiracist."

Historian Ibram Kendi says we've had racial progress in America, and simultaneously we've had racist progress. Is the root of racism ignorance and hate? or is it something else?

Ibram Kendi won the National Book Award in 2016 for his book, "Stamped From the Beginning: The Defining History of Racist Ideas in America." He's the founder of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University.

His research shows that "racist policies yield racial inequity. And anti-racist policies yield racial equity.... either we're furthering and reproducing this unequal society, or we're part of the struggle against it."

You can support racist policies with action, and even with inaction, he said. "I say inaction because if you do nothing in the face of racist policies, you're maintaining that norm of racism."

Racism is a problem we can solve, Kendi said, and he cited some historical examples: In 1860 the power and wealth of slaveholders over 250 years did not prevent them from losing their assets. He also cited the revolution in Haiti in 1791, and America in 1776 when "thirteen weak colonies defeated the mighty British empire."

"People believed it could happen and were committed to creating a different type of world for themselves."

Jemele Hill of The Atlantic was the moderator on June 25, 2019.

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