Ibram X. Kendi: Term ‘Legal Vote’ Is Functionally Racist

Ibram X. Kendi visits Build to discuss the book Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You at Bui
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Critical race theorist Ibram X. Kendi declared this week that the expression “legal vote” used to describe votes cast in conformity with U.S. laws is “functionally racist.”

“The term ‘legal vote’ is as fictionally fraught and functionally racist as the terms ‘illegal alien’ and ‘race neutral’ and ‘welfare queen’ and ‘handouts’ and ‘super predator’ and ‘crackbaby’ and ‘personal responsibility’ and ‘post racial,’” Kendi wrote on Twitter.

When Kendi added in a follow-up tweet, “There are so many more terms like this. What did I leave out?” his woke followers jumped on the bandwagon, insisting that any terms questioning the Left’s pet programs are necessarily racist.

According to one eager follower, other racist expressions would include “deadbeat dads,” “death taxes,” “big government,” “socialism,” “radical left,” “gay agenda,” “ivory tower,” “elites,” “looting,” “broken windows,” “pro-abortion,” “anti-religion,” “unwashed poor,” “anti-American,” “open borders,” “anti-police,” and “anchor baby.”

Kendi himself went on to clarify exactly what he meant, insisting that voter recounts in areas where blacks make up a significant portion of the population must also be racist.

“The misinformation of widespread voter fraud — or ‘illegal voting’ — in Detroit, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Phoenix where Black and Brown voters predominate is baked into the term ‘legal vote,’” he said. “No matter what GOP propaganda says, there’s nothing wrong with those voters and votes.”

“What makes a term racist is rarely the term’s literal meaning, and almost always the historical and political context in which the term is being used,” Kendi helpfully added, in an assertion that could be roughly translated as “a term is racist if I say it’s racist.”

Born Ibram Henry Rogers, the 38-year-old Kendi, director of Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research, is author of the 2019 bestseller How to Be an Antiracist, which contains such pearls of wisdom as “Racial inequity is a problem of bad policy, not bad people.”

Simply not being racist isn’t enough, Kendi insists. We must actively choose to be “antiracist,” working to undo racism and its component polices in order to build an equitable society.

Last September, Kendi famously attacked Amy Coney Barrett after the mother of seven was appointed to the Supreme Court, suggesting she was a “white colonizer” because she and her husband had adopted two Haitian children.

“Some White colonizers ‘adopted’ Black children. They ‘civilized’ these ‘savage’ children in the ‘superior’ ways of White people, while using them as props in their lifelong pictures of denial, while cutting the biological parents of these children out of the picture of humanity,” Kendi wrote.

“And whether this is Barrett or not is not the point,” he continued. “It is a belief too many White people have: if they have or adopt a child of color, then they can’t be racist.”

Regarding the initial assertion that the term “legal vote” is as functionally racist as the term “personal responsibility,” Kendi clearly has a point. Any reasonable person with a mind unclouded by woke ideology can immediately see that neither of these terms is more racist than the other.

“Legal vote,” in fact, is as functionally racist as a whole host of expressions, such as “pretty flower,” “paved road,” “sharp pencil,” and “university professor.”


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