Ibram X. Kendi

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Ibram X. Kendi

Ibram X. Kendi (born Ibram Henry Rogers) is one of America’s foremost anti-racist scholars. He is a National Book Award-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling author of six books, including Stamped from the Beginning and How To Be An Antiracist. The latter book gained a massive audience last year after protests against deadly police violence swept the globe.

In 2019, Dr. Kendii was awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship, and the following year, Boston University honored him with an endowed professorship. Today, Kendi is a regular contributor to The Atlantic and the founding director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. For these accomplishments and more, Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2020.

is a contributing writer at The Atlantic and the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and the director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. He is the author of several books, including the National Book Award–winning Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.

Background

Ibram X. Kendi was born in the Jamaica neighborhood of the New York City borough of Queens, to a middle class Carol Rogers, a former business analyst for a health-care organization,and Larry Rogers, a tax accountant and then hospital chaplain. Both of his parents are now retired and work as Methodist ministers. He has an older brother, Akil.

From third to eighth grade, Kendi attended private Christian schools in Queens.After attending John Bowne High School as a freshman, at age 15, Kendi moved with his family to Manassas, Virginia, in 1997 and attended Stonewall Jackson High School for his final three years of high school, from which he was graduated in 2000.

In 2005, Kendi received dual B.S. degrees in African American Studies and magazine production from Florida A&M University. In 2007, Kendi earned an M.A. and in 2010 a Ph.D. in African American Studies from Temple University. Kendi's dissertation was titled "The Black Campus Movement: An Afrocentric Narrative History of the Struggle to Diversify Higher Education, 1965-1972". His advisor was Ama Mazama.

Navy reading list

At a June 2021 congressional hearing, two House Republicans pressed Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday about why the book “How to be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi is included in the Chief of Naval Operations Professional Reading Program, a voluntary reading list that is meant to help sailors learn about leadership.

“Now I understand that this is a voluntary reading list, but how does exposing our sailors to the idea that they are either oppressors or oppressed and that we must actively discriminate to make up for past discrimination improve our Navy’s readiness and lethality for great power competition,” Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) asked at Tuesday’s hearing.

“Sir, initially you mentioned critical race theory: I’m not a theorist; I’m the chief of naval operations,” Gilday responded. “What I can tell you is, factually, based on a substantial amount of time talking to sailors in the fleet, there’s racism in the Navy, just like there’s racism in our country. And the way we’re going to get after it is to be honest about it, not to sweep it under the rug, and to talk about it — and that’s what we’re doing. And that’s one of the reasons that book is on the list.”

In “How to be an Antiracist,” Kendi argues that people who fail to oppose racist ideas are racist themselves, according to the New York Times Book Review. Kendi calls on people to become antiracists, who not only confront racist ideas but also support policies that affirm all people are equal.

Part of Kendi’s book also argues that labeling all white people as racists actually feeds the power of racism.

“Going after White people instead of racist power prolongs the policies harming Black life,” Kendi writes in the book. “In the end, anti-White racist ideas, in taking some or all of the focus off racist power, become anti-Black. In the end, hating White people becomes hating Black people.”

Gilday also said he does not expect sailors to believe everything that Kendi argues in his book, adding, “I don’t support everything that Kendi says.”

However, Gilday argued that sailors need to understand why the Navy values diversity. It is also important for sailors to learn how to recognize the disinformation from Russia and China that they are “bombarded” with every day.

On Wednesday, Task & Purpose asked Lamborn why he asked Gilday about a book on a reading list when the Navy is facing a myriad of serious challenges, including maintenance backlogs, overworked sailors, China’s ongoing military expansion, and continuing issues with littoral combat ships.

“Radical books that teach our sailors that the country and Constitution they are sworn to defend are fundamentally racist and bigoted will materially damage our Navy’s ability to project power, weakening our national security,” Lamborn replied in a statement. “The American people and our rank-and-file men and women in uniform understand this.”

Lamborn also said he asked Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger about weapons systems not funded in the Pentagon’s proposed fiscal 2022 budget that would be needed to deter or fight China, such as maritime strike missiles.

Task Force One Navy, which was established last year to remove racial barriers in the service, recommended that “How to be an Antiracist” be added to the reading list to help sailors understand different perspectives, said Cmdr. Nathan Christensen, Gilday’s spokesman.

“While CNO does not endorse every viewpoint of the books on this reading list, he believes exposure to varied ideas improves the critical thinking skills of our sailors,” Christensen said. “The past few months, Adm. Gilday has engaged with sailors across the fleet and has heard their concerns firsthand on a variety of issues – to include their own experiences of social and racial discrimination.”

At the hearing, Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) used “How to be an Antiracist” as a cudgel to bludgeon Gilday with cable news talking points about how critics of racism are also racist.

Taking a page from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Banks attempted to force Gilday to answer questions about racism with a yes or no; he interrupted and spoke over Gilday as the admiral tried to respond; and he treated Gilday with a total lack of respect.

“Kendi’s book states that capitalism is essentially racist,” said Banks, a Navy reservist. “And Kendi is clear that racism must be eliminated. So yes or no: Do you personally consider advocating for the destruction of American capitalism to be extremist?”

“Here’s what I know, Congressman …,” Gilday began saying before Banks interrupted.

“It’s a yes or no question,” Banks said.

“There’s racism in the United States Navy. I have an obligation …,” Gilday continued as Banks again tried to silence him.

“Admiral, you recommended that every sailor in the United States Navy read this book,” Banks said. “It’s a yes or no question.”

Gilday replied he is not forcing anyone to read the book. It’s on a voluntary reading list.[1]

Four Hundred Souls

David Love is a contributor to the book Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 (edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain).

On Race & Racism

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Ibram X. Kendi, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor March 24, 2021.

CRT

Critical race guru Ibram X. Kendi, who directs the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University, has proposed the creation of a federal Department of Antiracism. This department would be independent of the elected branches of government, and would have the power to nullify, veto, or abolish any law at any level of government and curtail the speech of political leaders and others who are deemed insufficiently “antiracist.”[2]

Forum on Antiracism as Health Policy

US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and US Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) will join Boston University’s School of Public Health and Center for Antiracist Research during a three-day program beginning, Monday, April 5 2021, that will explore the role of race in shaping health in the United States.

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Titled Antiracism as Health Policy: Race, COVID-19, and Policy Reform, the Public Health Conversation will feature a series of virtual panel presentations and conversations featuring Sandro Galea, SPH dean and Robert A. Knox Professor, Ibram X. Kendi, Center for Antiracist Research director and founder and Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities, and other health experts and race scholars in academia and government. Monday’s session will begin with a conversation between Galea and Kendi, followed by a panel discussion that will explore the importance of collecting and utilizing data on race to better understand the short- and long-term impacts of the pandemic.

Tuesday’s program, also cohosted by the Rockefeller Foundation–Boston University Commission on Health Determinants, Data, and Decision-Making, will feature a keynote address by Pressley and a panel discussion that will explore how to incorporate evidence-based research into policymaking. The program will conclude on April 7 with a conversation between Warren and Kendi, followed by a panel discussion that will identify antiracist policy solutions informed by data.

“We have long known that racial disparities exist in health outcomes for Black and brown communities, but the federal government has yet to tackle the main driver of these disparities,” says Warren. She, Pressley, and US Representative Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) recently reintroduced legislation that would identify racism as a public health crisis and support the development of antiracist federal health policies.

“By naming structural racism as the root cause, we can start treating health disparities like we would any other public health crisis: by investing in research into their causes and treating the resulting ‘symptoms’ of centuries of structural racism,” Warren says.

“More comprehensively and more frequently than any other government agency, the COVID Racial Data Tracker tracked, analyzed, and illuminated state- and national-level trends in COVID racial inequities through clear and compelling data visualization in real time,” says Monica Wang, an SPH associate professor of community health sciences and Center for Antiracist Research associate director of narrative. “Data from this tracker importantly highlighted the urgency to prioritize resources, testing, and intervention and vaccination efforts for many different communities of color.”

Wang, one of the coordinators of this week’s event, says she hopes the program’s viewers and participants will gain “an understanding of the devastating extent of the racial disparities, an awareness of how and why they emerged, and a commitment to exploring new paths forward to build an equitable society.” Today’s panel discussion will be moderated by Kimberly Atkins (COM’98, LAW’98), Boston Globe senior opinion writer and member of the paper’s editorial board, and will feature Stephanie Ettinger de Cuba, executive director of Children’s HealthWatch; Megan Sandel (SPH’02,’03), a School of Medicine associate professor of pediatrics; Kaye-Alese Green, a MED diversity and inclusion fellow and a visiting fellow at BU’s Institute for Health System Innovation & Policy; Stephen A. Wilson, MED’s chair of family medicine; Jayakanth Srinivasan, a Questrom School of Business research associate professor; Julia Raifman, an SPH assistant professor of health law, policy, and management; and Aviva Geiger Schwarz, data editor of the COVID Racial Data Tracker at the Center for Antiracist Research.[3]

Socialism 2018

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Ibram X. Kendi was a speaker at Socialism 2018, an annual socialist gathering sponsored by the International Socialist Organization held in Chicago, Illinois in July 2018.[4] Go to the main page of ISO Socialism Conference...

Black Lives Matter At School endorsments

The Black Lives Matter at School national week of action has received endorsements from many leaders across the country in the struggle for racial justice, as well as by hundreds of professors, educators, and community activists. Additionally, the National Education Association, the largest union representing teachers and other educators in the country, voted to endorse BLM@School.

Below is the solidarity statement with the list of notable signatories from the 2018 BLM At School week of action.

We, the undersigned, are writing in support of a new uprising for racial justice that is being organized by educators around the country who have declared February 5-9, 2018, “Black Lives Matter at School Week.” Many thousands of educators will be wearing shirts to school that say, “Black Lives Matter at School” and will teach lessons about structural racism, intersectional Black identities, and Black history in cities all across the country.

Endorsers included Ibram X. Kendi Director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center and National Book Award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.

Left Forum 2016

Authors’ Roundtable: New Landmark: Books on Race Relations in America

External Links

References

  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. [3]
  4. Socialism Conference 2018 Socialism Conference 2018 (accessed July 23 2018)