Ibram X. Kendi – Featured Author for diversity

Welcome to our Featured Author post for January. Every month, we will feature an author whose writing will help us understand the current quarterly theme. I chose Ibram X. Kendi as our featured author this month. We will see how his writing helps us to understand the history diversity and inclusion in our country.

What is diversity and inclusion?

Last week, we talked about the definitions of diversity and inclusion. Here is a link to the post What is Diversity and Inclusion? As we think about those definitions, how can we learn more about the difference in opinion about these two ideas? One way is to read more about what another source has to say.

Who is Ibram X. Kendi?

According to Wikipedia, Ibram Xolani Kendi is an American author, professor, anti-racist activist, and historian of race and discriminatory policy in America. Here are some other quick facts,

  • Born in New York City (Queens)
  • Brought up in a middle class family
  • In college he studied African American Studies and Magazine Production
  • While in college, he founded the Antiracist Research and Policy Center

What is an Antiracist?

Kendi got involved in the anti-racist movement through his education in African American Studies and his experience with racism as a Black American. He founded the Antiracist Research and Policy Center to not only reshape the discussion about racism but also to educate people on how to make changes in how other races are treated.

In his book, How To Be An Antiracist, Kendi says, “Definitions anchor principles… If we don’t do the basic work of defining the people we want to be in a language that is stable and consistent, we cannot work towards stable, consistent goals.”” To understand the definition of an antiracist, we need to understand how Kendi defines who is a racist

  • A Racist is one who is supporting a racist policy through their actions or in action or expressing a racist idea.
  • An antiracist is a person who is supporting an antiracist policy through their actions or expressing an antiracist idea

How does he affect the Antiracism movement in America?

Racism is just a part of the diversity and inclusion discussion. Racism doesn’t include people who are different from us; it excludes them with a rule. Antiracists are actively identifying and opposing racism, or the side that is choosing to exclude.

His ideas around antiracism have reshaped the conversations about racism and diversity. Many people are now more aware of the issue and are accepting that changes need to be made. Kendi’s work also helps us learn more about the issue of racism and how to get more actively involved in erasing it.

Let’s take a look at one of the books that I think opened up conversations and thoughts about diversity and inclusion in our country.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds - book cover

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You

This book was written by Jason Reynolds and Kendi. It is a remix of a book which was originally written by Kendi called Stamped from the Beginning and was written for a young adult audience.

The first thing you are told when you read this book is that is isn’t a history book. And it isn’t. It tells the story of the history of our country from a different angle. From the people of color perspective. This book helps us understand why diversity is such a challenging thing in our country today.

I am sure we are all aware that people are different from us, but have we accepted those differences? The way people have been treated in the history of our country may say that we haven’t. This information is what this book brings to light.

This book is likely to start conversations with your teen and young adult because it presents ideas we may not have known before. I would recommend this book to teens and adults, but keep an open mind.

Here is a link to purchase it trough his website Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award winning Stamped From the Beginning. Any of these books are also available through Amazon or a local bookseller through Bookshop.org

How does Ibram Kendi help us learn about diversity?

Through his writing and speaking, Ibram X. Kendi introduces the idea of what an antiracist is. They are the ones battling racist ideas by educating and creating more inclusion in our country. He presents the history of our country in a way that gives us more to think about as we create our own ideas about diversity and inclusion.

Mentoring a Dream is a resource for parents, guardians, educators, and adults that have teens in their life. Reaching the teens around you can feel impossible at times. In their eyes, “You just don’t understand” and navigating these years can be tricky, but I want to provide you with helpful tips and tools to help guide your teen through these confusing years.

Have a great week!

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