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New approach to old problem

I was struck by two aspects of Ibram Kendi's book, How to Be an Anti-Racist. One was the re-framing of the concept of racism to include all of us along the race spectrum. For years in the anti-racist movement, we have taught that racism is the combination of power and racial prejudice, thus those without power--people of color--cannot be racist, in that they are not given the franchise of control over other groups. Kendi underscores the great extent to which we are ALL affected by the concept of Race. I really appreciate his clear, personal illustrations of how his own infections with racism have manifest themselves and how he became aware of them.

The other shift in approach to anti-racist thought is Kendi's inclusion of intersectionality of racial oppression with other groups. The Race system is predicated on the assumption of a hierarchy of human beings. Kendi spells out how individual groups are targeted by racism, in that their value is assessed according to these strata and their worth measured against a Eurocentric Christian male model, as the ultimate standard. Women, LGBQT+, physically and mentally challenged, "other" ethnicity, non-Christians, etc. suffer because of this racial archetype. Again, Kendi's use of his own specific experiences of participation in this template of judging others is invaluable in understanding how pervasive this sin of racism is in our lives.

I was humbled and challenged by the end of How to Be an Anti-Racist. I am proud of the efforts that I myself have made to combat racism in my life, and I have been heartened by the surge I have witnessed in attention to anti-racist thought . But Kendi admonishes that I must do more than review history, read stirring literature, "celebrate diversity," and participate in an occasional rally. As in the Gospel, Jesus calls me to totally commit myself to shining a light in the dark corners and kicking over the tables in the marketplace. I must investigate the multitude of crimes, with an eye toward prosecution of the injustices.

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