Ibram Kendi Pens Antiracist Reading List for the New York TimesHistorians in the News
tags: book review, reading list
Ibram X. Kendi, a professor and director of the Antiracist Research & Policy Center at American University, is the National Book Award-winning author of “Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America” and the forthcoming “How to Be an Antiracist.”
No one becomes “not racist,” despite a tendency by Americans to identify themselves that way. We can only strive to be “antiracist” on a daily basis, to continually rededicate ourselves to the lifelong task of overcoming our country’s racist heritage.
We learn early the racist notion that white people have more because they are more; that people of color have less because they are less. I had internalized this worldview by my high school graduation, seeing myself and my race as less than other people and blaming other blacks for racial inequities.
To build a nation of equal opportunity for everyone, we need to dismantle this spurious legacy of our common upbringing. One of the best ways to do this is by reading books. Not books that reinforce old ideas about who we think we are, what we think America is, what we think racism is. Instead, we need to read books that are difficult or unorthodox, that don’t go down easily. Books that force us to confront our self-serving beliefs and make us aware that “I’m not racist” is a slogan of denial.
The reading list below is composed of just such books — a combination of classics, relatively obscure works and a few of recent vintage. Think of it as a stepladder to antiracism, each step addressing a different stage of the journey toward destroying racism’s insidious hold on all of us.
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