An award-winning historian and best-selling author recently visited Utah State University to teach students how to be an Anti-Racist. The historian argues that racism comes from racist policies as opposed to emotions.
Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, a professor of history and founding director of the Anti-racist Research and Policy Center at American University recently spoke at Utah State University in an address titled “How to Be an Anti-Racist.” Through tracing the racism that has happened in the U.S. over time, he said he believes there are two reasons why people overlook racism today.
“The first is this sort of arrival narrative," said Kendi. "That the nation has moved past racism, that it’s moved into a post-racial society. The other racial narrative is this racial progress narrative. This narrative that over the course of American history, the nation has continuously made steady forward racial progress.”
Kendi says that racism is the combination of racist policies and racist ideas. He says that while we’ve progressed in racial equality, racist ideas have also progressed.
“Racist policies and even racist ideas have progressed and become even more sophisticated over the course of American history," said Kendi. "And what I mean by sophisticated is that they have continuously become hidden from public view which then allows them to continue because Americans are not resisting them."
Kendi started his book, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by talking about the racist ideas he previously had internalized. He said these ideas are spread in order to justify the benefits that certain privileged individuals receive by discriminating against other races.
However, he also believes that as a society we can change the way we think about discrimination and become anti-racists.
“When we see negativity, when we see a black person who is acting negatively," said Kendi. "We should individualize that person. We shouldn’t say that person is acting in a lazy manner because they’re black, no they’re acting lazy because of them or because of that hour because maybe later they may be more driven to work. That’s one of the ways in which we think as an anti-racist, we individualize negativity. That’s what we do with white people.”
You can find the full Access Utah special here on Ibrahm X. Kendi.