Reynolds Lecture with Ibram X. Kendi on How to Be an Antiracist
This lecture could not come at a better year. It is not that it is more important this year; antiracism has always been important. However, the Black Lives Matter marches nationwide as well as the social media movement recognizing George Floyd’s death allows what has historically been an unwelcoming audience to be more willing to have an open perspective. Kendi stated that “society is racialized” and adds that in order to alter society, we are obligated to accept that. This resonates with me, coming from a town where convincing someone that racism still even exists can take nothing short of a small battle. It is no surprise, however, that society is racialized in all the ways that white people would barely notice. We benefit from it all too easily. Another point Kendi made, that “Capitalism is racist” proves this point as capitalism is a system put into place in America by white men in power who either had slaves or benefited from their labor. I cannot help but think that almost everyone back home would reject this idea and dismiss it as radical immediately; but small conservative towns like mine are simply symptoms of the overarching problems in economics and power structure that he references. Kendi is clearly aware of this; he also is clearly aware of the large number of white or privileged Americans that “stay out of politics to avoid drama”. However, he speaks directly to them, stating near the end of his lecture that to stay out of politics is to say “please dominate me…do whatever you want” to authorities and people in power.
I felt moved by Kendi’s passion and persuasive power, and I also felt the historical weight of the discussion. This year seemed to be a cultural revolution in more ways than one, and I believe that for the anti-racist movement to succeed, better education on the topic and strong leaders are absolutly essential. Despite the mourning and turmoil that has characterized 2020, Kendi presented an urgent message of hope.