Ibram X. Kendi: ‘To Be Racist Is to Constantly, Consistently Deny … Like Donald Trump’

Ibram X. Kendi: How to Be an Antiracist

“To be antiracist is to admit the times which we’re being racist,” said Critical Race Theory activist Ibram X. Kendi during an American Federation of Teachers (AFT) conference Wednesday.

“To be racist, is to constantly, consistently, deny, deny, deny, like Donald Trump,” he added.

Kendi, the author of Stamped from the Beginning: A Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, How to Be an Antiracist, and Antiracist Babykeynoted the teachers’ union’s biennial TEACH (Together Educating America’s Children) professional development conference.

Fedrick C. Ingram, AFT secretary-treasurer, praised Kendi for including in his book, How to Be an Antiracist, his admission to having done his own racist thinking.

“How does this honesty and vulnerability help give others the space to acknowledge and name their own racist behaviors and attitudes?” Ingram asked.

Kendi responded:

In studying the history of racism, even studying the history of times in which people were being racist, what I found was a consistent, sort of, narrative was just denial, was, was people just denying the ways in which they were being racist, their racist policies, their racist ideas. People constantly and consistently, whether you’re a Ku Klux Klansman, a lyncher, or a slaveholder or segregationist, or, you know, someone today consistently claiming they’re not racist, no matter what they do or say. And I wanted the heartbeat, really, of this book to be the veritable opposite of that. And that opposite is actual admission, being vulnerable, being willing to look and see. You know what, I was wrong. I was the problem, my ideas were the problem, not those people. And, and I thought that it was critically important to do that, not because I actually thought it would allow other people to be vulnerable, but because I recognized that it was important to be vulnerable, to be antiracist. Like to be antiracist, is to admit the times which we’re being racist. To be racist, is to constantly consistently, deny, deny, deny, like Donald Trump.

Ingram and Kendi then engaged in a mutual denial that Critical Race Theory (CRT) is being taught in K-12 schools. Both presented a façade of horror at state laws and school board policies that have banned the teaching of concepts associated with CRT, such as inherent racism, white supremacy, and systemic or institutional racism. Both falsely asserted these laws and policies seek to block any discussion of racism or mention of slavery, and expressed their belief these laws were passed to diminish the unfavorable portions in America’s history.

In Oklahoma, for example, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signed a bill that bans the teaching of Critical Race Theory concepts.

Breitbart News reported:

Stitt read from HB 1775: “No teacher shall require or make part of a course that one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex.”

He explained that while historic events such as the Oklahoma City bombing, the Tulsa Race Massacre, and the Oklahoma City lunch counter sit-ins, should be part of school curricula, they should be taught “without labeling a young child as an oppressor or requiring he or she feel guilt or shame, based on their race or sex.”

The governor continued:

I refuse to tolerate otherwise during a time when we are already so polarized. We cannot revert to 100-year-old thinking, that a person is any less valuable, or inherently racist by the color of their skin. Martin Luther King spoke of a day when people in America would be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. House Bill 1775 codifies that concept, that so many of us believe in our hearts, including me, and as governor, I will not stand for publicly funded K through 12 schools, training impressionable minds to define themselves by their sex or their race.

Ingram asked Kendi what he views as “the danger based from the laws we’re seeing across the country, limiting what is being allowed to be taught in schools – and not just bad laws, but school board level policies that use terms like Critical Race Theory.”

“As far as I know, and what the AFT has researched, that’s the theory taught in law school, not a curriculum taught in high school,” Ingram said, observing a view that was asserted as well by AFT President Randi Weingarten:

Kendi responded that much of what parents are expressing outrage about at their local school board meetings amounts to “lies”:

The only thing that I can compare this recent wave of what is happening in our school districts, what’s happening in our schools, what’s happening in our communities, is it really reminds me of the reaction and the response to the Brown v. Board of Education decision. When, when there was widespread fear in certain schools and certain communities that “those desegregated schools … those black children would, were going to be harmful to white children,” and, and it’s similarly being cast or framed as if, you know, teaching about history, teaching about racism, you know, even teaching about slavery is going to somehow harm white children.

And then there’s the just monstrous lie that this effort to teach kids about racism is an effort to teach white children that they are inherently evil and racist. No teacher, at least no antiracist teacher, would, would be teaching, you know, that. And, and, so, I think it really pains me because, you know these lies that, that somehow we’re seeking to teach that all American institutions are evil, that, that all America is fundamentally and permanently racist, these are not positions that, that I’m articulating, that that, even Critical Race theorists are articulating, but, but, they have been contrived and, and, then sort of packaged as Critical Race Theory.

Despite making these remarks, Kendi followed with:

To me, we live in a dangerously racist society. There are racist ideas that are swirling around, that are teaching darker-skinned kids that there’s something wrong with them because of the color of their skin.

There are ideas running around teaching white kids that there’s something right about them, because of the color of their skin.

And if we just act like that’s not happening, if we just act like there’s no such thing as racist ideas, if we just act like there are not kids of color who, who are saying, “I want to be white,” if we just act like there are not white kids who believe, or have been taught to believe, you know, that it’s great that they’re white. If we just act like this isn’t happening, it’s equivalent to acting like people don’t have cancer.

A Harvard CAPS/Harris poll released at the end of June found 61 percent of registered voters said children should not be taught America is “structurally racist.”

The online survey of 2,006 registered voters asked participants, “Do you believe that kids in elementary school should be taught that America is structurally racist and is dominated by white supremacy or should they not be taught this?”

In response, 39 percent said children “should be taught that America is structurally racist,” and 61 percent answered children “should not be taught this.”

To another question regarding the teaching of the First Amendment, 81 percent responded elementary school students should learn about the First Amendment and the importance of free speech, as opposed to 19 percent who said American children should not learn about the First Amendment.

A YouGov poll sponsored by the Economist and published in mid-June also found 58 percent of Americans have an “unfavorable” view of Critical Race Theory, while 38 percent view the Marxist philosophy favorably.


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