Six-Hour Independent Film Gets Us Ready for 2019
Award-winning author Ibram X. Kendi has dedicated the better part of his career to denouncing racism and anti-blackness. Now, a teacher teaches Kendi’s Anti-Racism 101 lesson plans for middle schoolers. Kendi, whose breakout book “The Stonewall Uprising: How a Riot Transformed an American Community” was the New York Times bestseller of 2017, has earned more than 30 awards for his work, most recently being named one of Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2018. In November 2018, he became the first black author to be named a senior fellow at the Aspen Institute’s network of national programs.
I recently asked Kendi to explain how his work can help teach kids how to stop racism. (Another of Kendi’s books, “The Invisible Man: How a Troubled Life in Detroit Transformed One Man’s Decisions into a Path to Change,” which addresses the abuse victims’ caretakers, is in line for a February 2019 release.)
You’ve said that anti-blackness and racism go hand in hand, like light and dark. How does anti-blackness manifest itself, and how do we stop it?
Anti-blackness is racism as enacted in the world. Anti-blackness manifests itself in economics. Anti-blackness manifests itself in sexualized violence. Anti-blackness manifests itself in a critical mass of people who think that blackness and queer people are inherently inferior.
If you keep identifying and equating blackness with poverty and blackness with masculinity and blackness with ability, then you are going to have a lot of prejudice and you are going to have a lot of hostility towards black people. The same anti-blackness that is perpetuated by these binary constructs of blackness can be, for example, manifested by anti-gay people. Even when people object to being called anti-gay, they are asserting that being called anti-gay makes you an anti-gay. You are calling it someone else’s identity.