The Opposite of “racist” Isn’t “not Racist”

2020. 03. 21. 10 min

2500 Words


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the National Book Awar author of Stamped from the Beginning comes a refreshing approach that will radically reorient America on the urgent issues of race, justice, and equality.

Ibram X. Kendi’s concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America–but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. Instead of working with the policies and system we have in place, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it.

In his memoir, Kendi weaves together an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science–including the story of his own awakening to antiracism–bringing it all together in a cogent, accessible form. He begins by helping us rethink our most deeply held, if implicit, beliefs and our most intimate personal relationships (including beliefs about race and IQ and interracial social relations) and reexamines the policies and larger social arrangements we support. How to Be an Antiracist promises to become an essential book for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step of contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society.

Becoming Anti-Racist Resource List

Understand How Race Shapes Experiences in Higher Education


  • White Academia: Do Better by Jasmine Roberts in Medium
  • 10 Signs of Institutional Racism by Robin L. Hughes in Diverse Issues in Higher Education
  • Minoritized Senior Faculty in Higher Education, Please Stand Up in Diverse Issues in Higher Education
  • “Missouri 3 Years Later: Lessons Learned, Protests Still Resonate” by Rick Seltzer in Inside Higher Ed
  • “Speaking Truth and Acting with Integrity: Confronting Challenges of Campus Racial Climate a research report” by the American Council of Education
  • “How to Subvert the Capitalist White-Supremacist University” by Debarati Biswas for Public Books
  • “Pushing Back Against Racism and Xenophobia on Campuses” by MarYam Hamedani, Hazel Rose Markus and Paula Mo in Inside Higher Ed
  • “Are Campus Leaders Prepared for the Impact of the Racial Crisis?” by Adrianna Kezar, Sharon Fries-Britt, and Lorelle Espinosa in Inside Higher Ed
  • “Diversity and Inclusion are Not Enough” by Benjamin D. Reese in Inside Higher Ed
  • “Is Your University Racist” by Bedelia Richards in Inside Higher Ed
  • “Teachers Are as Racially Biased as Everybody Else, Study Shows” by Madeline Will in Education Week


  • Written/Unwritten: Diversity and the Hidden Truths of Tenure by Patricia A. Matthew
  • Presumed Incompetent II: Race, Class, Power, and Resistance of Women in Academia
  • co-edited by Yolanda Flores Niemann, Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs,, Carmen G. González, and Angela P. Harris
  • Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia
  • co-edited by Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs, Yolanda Flores Niemann, Carmen G. González, and Angela P. Harris
  • Toxic Ivory Towers: The Consequences of Work Stress on Underrepresented Minority Faculty by Ruth Enid Zambrana
  • An Inclusive Academy: Achieving Diversity and Excellence by Abigail J. Stewart and Virginia Valian
  • Campus Counterspaces: Black and Latinx Students’ Search for Community at Historically White Universities by Micere Keels
  • Diversity’s Promise for Higher Education: Making It Work by Daryl G. Smith
  • Blackballed: The Black and White Politics of Race on America’s Campuses by Lawrence Ross

Understand How Race Shapes Experiences in the Workplace

  • Working While Black: Stories from Black Corporate America in Fortune
  • Moving Beyond Diversity to Racial Equity in Harvard Business Review
  • Restructure Your Organization to Actually Advance Racial Justice in Harvard Business Review
  • Continuum on Becoming an Antiracist Multicultural Organization from Philanos
  • Why So Many Organizations Stay White by Victor Ray in Harvard Business Review
  • Towards a Racially Just Workplace by Laura Morgan Roberts and Anthony J. Mayo in Harvard Business Review
  • Working While Black by Sam Louie in Psychology Today
  • Dear White People: Here Are 10 Actions You Can Take To Promote Racial Justice In The Workplace in Forbes

Understand Allyship

  • High Quality Connections in an Anti-Racist Reckoning by Emily Heaphy in High Quality Connections
  • “75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice” by Corinne Shutack in Medium
  • “On Being an Ally: Change Is Necessary and Painful” by Genie Harrison and Amanda Monroe in Ms. Magazine
  • “20+ Allyship Actions for Asians to Show Up for the Black Community Right Now” by Michelle Kim in Medium
  • “Your Black Colleagues May Look Like They’re Okay — Chances Are They’re Not,” by Danielle Cadet in Refinery 29
  • Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown
  • Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad
  • Dear well-meaning white people: You have 8 minutes, 46 seconds to make a change. The clock is ticking.” by Tony Brown in the Houston Chronicle
    Understand How Anti-Black Racism Shapes American SocietyThis list was curated in part from the following resources, visit them directly to view the complete and diverse list.

    • The Anti-racist Syllabus created by Dr. Ibram Kendi.

    Who is this for? This anti-racist syllabus is for people realizing they were never taught how to be anti-racist. How to treat all the racial groups as equals. How to look at the racial inequity all around and look for the racist policies producing it, and the racist ideas veiling it. This list is for people beginning their anti-racist journey after a lifetime of defensively saying, “I’m not a racist” or “I can’t be a racist.” Beginning after a lifetime of assuring themselves only bad people can be racist.

    • Eight Recommended Books by Women to Understand the Uprisings by Keisha N. Blain

    Who is this for? Those looking to understand the struggle for Black rights and freedom, particularly, how the past informs the present—and the future. These eight books grapple with the current challenges we are facing as a nation and offer solutions and strategies for how we might build a more just and equal society. And in this moment of pain and despair, they may even offer some hope.

    • Stop Asking People Of Color To Explain Racism–Pick Up One Of These Books Instead by Rachel Garlinghouse

    Who is this for? For those who actually want to learn, to get woke, and to stay educated, these books are downright essential and helpful to teach us about race, race relations, history, and progress.

    • A Detailed List of Anti-Racism Resources by Katie Couric

    Who is this for? These resources were compiled to be helpful during these frightening and frustrating times. Recognizing that understanding begins with all of us looking inward, reflecting on our own attitudes, and of course, having difficult conversations with family and friends.

    Read Now (Articles)

    • “The Function of Black Rage” by Mychal Denzel Smith in The Nation
    • “When Silence Is Betrayal” – What Must Be Said About The Killing Of George Floyd by Seth Cohen in Forbes
    • “The Death of George Floyd, In Context,” by Jelani Cobb of The New Yorker
    • “Of Course There Are Protests. The State Is Failing Black People,” by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor for the New York Times
    • The 1619 Project, in particular this essay by Nikole Hannah-Jones for the New York Times.
    • “It’s exhausting. How many hashtags will it take for all of America to see Black people as more than their skin color?” by Rita Omokha for Elle
    • “How to Make This Moment the Turning Point for Real Change,” by Barack Obama in Medium
    • Next time someone tells you “all lives matter,” show them this cartoon by German Lopez in Vox

    Watch Now (Videos)

    • Race Relations and the Making of the United States: A Conversation with Rutgers President Dr. Jonathan Hollaway
    • America is a Tale of Two Cities by Chris Cuomo for CNN
    • Do you want to be treated like a Black American? by Jane Elliot
    • An ‘Unapologetic’ Black Feminist on Accelerating the Pace of Change by Brittney Cooper
    • Let’s Get to the Root of Racial Injustice by Dr. Megan Ming Francis
    • White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Nation’s Divide by Dr. Carol Anderson
    • White Fragility by Dr. Robin DiAngelo
    • “It’s Movement Time Again” by Rev. William Barber for the Poor People’s Campaign
    • Equity and Equality by University of Maine’s Rising Tide Center
    • Let It Fall, a documentary looking at racial tensions in Los Angeles and the 1992 riots over LAPD officers’ brutal assault on Rodney King
    • When They See Us, a Netflix miniseries from Ava DuVernay about the Central Park Five
    • 13th, a Netflix documentary exposing racial inequality within the criminal justice system
    • I Am Not Your Negro, a documentary envisioning the book James Baldwin was never able to finish
    • Selma, a film that chronicles the marches of the Civil Rights Movement
    • Reconstruction in America by Equal Justice Initiative
    • Re-righting History (on Confederate Statues) National Geographic America Inside Out with Katie Couric
    • Next time someone tells you “all lives matter,” show them this cartoon by German Lopez in  Vox

    Listen Now (Podcasts)

    • Brené with Ibram X. Kendi on How to Be an Anti-racist Unlocking Us Podcast by Brené Brown
    • White Lies: An Investigative Podcast by NPR
    • Code Switch: Race. In Your Face Podcast by NPR
    • Seeing White, a Scene on the Radio podcast
    • Just Mercy Podcast episode with Jamie Foxx, Michael B. Jordan, and Bryan Stevenson


    • How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
    • Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi
    • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
    • Racism: A Short History by George Frederickson
    • Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
    • Getting Smart about Race: An American Conversation by Margaret Andersen
    • White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
    • Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum
    • The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
    • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
    • The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America by Khalil Gibran Muhammad
    • Slavery by Another Name: The Re-enslavement of of Black Americans From the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon
    • Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney C. Cooper
    • Black in America: The Paradox of the Color Line by Enobong Hannah Branch and Christina Jackson
    • The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein
    • Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt
    • Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century by Dorothy Roberts
    • Locking up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America by James Forman
    • Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock
    • Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde
    • The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
    • The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E. Baptist
    • A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History by Jeanne Theoharis
    • Too Heavy A Load: Black Women in Defense of Themselves, 1894-1994 by Deborah G. White
    • When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America by Paula Giddings
    • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
    • From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
    • The Wellbeing Handbook for Overcoming Everyday Racism: How to Be Resilient in the Face of Discrimination and Microagressions by Susan Cousins
    • The Black and the Blue: A Cop Reveals the Crimes, Racism, and Injustice in America’s Law Enforcement by Matthew Horace
    • I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in A World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
    • Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson

Active Reflection: Apply What You Have Learned 

  1. What are your initial thoughts and feelings on what you read/heard/watched?
  2. What are your immediate takeaways/”aha moments” from the resource?
  3. What parts of the resource affirmed what you “knew” to be true? What parts challenged what you “knew” to be true?
  4. What parts of the resource inspired you to take action? What action(s) do you plan on taking? How will you apply what you learned as you take action(s)?
  5. Did the resource help you to better understand your lived experience or that of those around you? Why or Why not? How will that understanding shape how you engage with others going forward?
  6. What topics or issues raised in the resource are you invested in learning more about? Are there other items on the Becoming Anti-racist resource list that you can explore to support your growth?
  7. The resources point to the need for institutional change to interrupt systemic racism. What steps will you take to support that change?


The design below is inspired by the work of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, and reflects the journey towards becoming anti-racist. Source:


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