Whew, this came up quickly!
This is the year where so much is possible – it’s exhilarating and frightening at the same time. This morning I’m reading Dr. Ibram X Kendi’s How To Be Antiracist and it’s a lot. I mean he’s challenging my thinking on almost every page. And if I’m honest, I’m not sure I always want to be challenged. I want to be coached, affirmed and gently led, yes – but he’s not here for that.
Actually, I suppose he is being rather gentle as he breaks up all my ideas of what I thought I knew about racism, what it is and how it works. He’s breaking it all down into understandable morsels that I can work with while also weaving in examples from history and his personal journey to antiracist thinking and action.
SO here’s what rocked the boat this morning: The powerless defense. This is the belief that Black people can’t be racist because they don’t have power. We’ve heard that often and I’ve no doubt repeated it at various junctures. But he says that’s not true. WHAT?
He writes: “Black people can be racist because Black people do have power, even if limited…Ironically, the only way that White power can gain full control is by convincing us that White people already have all the power.” (p. 142)
He then goes on to list a host of examples of Black folks with power who then applied it to enact, uphold or even further racist policies that specifically discriminated against Black folks. It’s rather stunning.
The whole chapter is kinda rocking my world, mostly in a good way. But it does remind me of how much work I have to do on myself, even as I try to ‘change the world and become a better antiracist.