Discussion #6

Category: English

 

Week #6 Discussion: Kendi (Ch. 10, 11, 12) – Due Sun 10/10/21

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Image from Code Switch Podcast, National Public Radio

Week #6 Discussion due Sun 10/10

**Be sure to review the Week #6 Overview page before you complete the Week #6 Discussion assignment.

For the Week #6 Discussion, we will be exploring the world of Podcasts. Last week, we had a little preview of a short group discussion on a topic in the video world, with the Guardian’s “Shades of Black” video chat on the topic of Colorism. This week, we will be analyzing conversations that are verbal, and a bit longer, but which will not have the added advantage of video. You will be practicing your listening skills, as you listen to a variety of multicultural Podcasts and select one episode to write about in relation to the ideas in Chapters 10, 11, and 12 in Kendi’s book, How to Be an Antiracist.

  • Your write-up should include specific details from the podcast and should analyze the issues brought up in the podcast you select (choose one episode to listen to and analyze), and you should relate this issue to any of the ideas in Chapters 10, 11, or 12 in Kendi’s book.
  • You may need to try out several Podcasts and several episodes within each Podcast until you find one that works for this assignment. The topic should relate to Kendi’s ideas in Chapters 10, 11, or 12.

You can access Podcasts on your phone, through the Podcast app, and explore and listen that way, or you can search online, on your computer, and can listen that way.

  • Your write-up should include specific details from your Podcast episode and at least four quotes from Chapters 10, 11, or 12. (Make sure to explain the context for the quotes when you relate them to the Podcast episode.)
  • The episode you select should be at least 30 minutes in length; more is fine.
  • Be sure to include the name of the Podcast, the name of the episode, and the date of the episode at the beginning of your write-up.

Suggested Podcasts

1619 Podcast

Asian America, the Ken Fong Podcast

Asian Americana

Asia Pacific Forum

Basic Brown Nerds

Be Antiracist, with Ibram X. Kendi

Black History Year

Black Wall Street 1921

Code Switch

Coffee and Books, hosted by Marc Lamont Hill

Come Through with Rebecca Carroll

Contemporary Black Canvas

Desi American Life

The History of American Slavery

How to Citizen, with Baratunde

Into America, with Trymaine Lee

Latina Theory

Latinos Who Lunch

Nancy

Pod for the Cause

Queer America

Scene on Radio, Season 2: “Seeing White”

Self Evident, Asian America’s Stories

Somebody

South Asian Stories with Sameer Desai

The Stoop

Tamarindo

This Filipino American Life

This Muslim Girl

The Tight Rope

We Live Here

Another podcast of your choice (must get pre-approval from instructor).

(Approx. 450-500 words; more is fine.)

**You will also need to respond to another student’s post. 

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Week #6: Kendi, Chapters 10, 11, and 12

#Hashtags

A great way to annotate your text as you read, and a helpful study technique, is to create a short “hashtag” as a way to make a quick and easy label to explain or define the main ideas in a text. #studyguide, #marginnotes, #keyideas,

What is a hashtag? If you use social media of any kind, you are probably familiar with hashtags, which are used to categorize a post, and which help collect posts on similar or related topics: #antiracism, #kendi, #blacklivesmatter

Sometimes, hashtags are used in a humorous way to comment on a post, also. #wakemeupwhenitisover, #hearditallbefore

  • Your hashtags are for your own use, so you can use them in whatever way works best for you, and with whatever words will help you understand and remember an idea of a passage.

You can try it out this week as you read Chapters 10, 11, and 12!

Chapter 10, “White”

What to Look For:

In this chapter, Kendi focuses on anti-White racism. He introduces this issue through the lens of his own development of anti-White racist ideas which peaked around the time of the November 2000 presidential election, while Kendi was a Freshman at Florida A&M University. Kendi describes the problematic ballot fiasco of the 2000 election, which disqualified over 179,000 votes in Florida, and which affected Black voters ten times more than White voters (124), and which led to Democrat Al Gore conceding the election to Republican George W. Bush by a very small margin (124-125). Kendi describes how his disappointment with the democratic process in the U.S. from this blatantly racist ploy to “steal the presidency on the strength of destroyed Black votes” (125) led him into a period in which he sought to understand the basis for White devilry, White evil (125).

Kendi presents the creation story which explains the supposed origins of White evil, as interpreted by Elijah Muhammad, leader of the “unorthodox Nation of Islam…from 1934 until…1975” (125), in his book Message to the Blackman in America (125-126). Kendi notes his skepticism of this explanation (126), while also describing his feeling that this tale also reflected the reality he had experienced and witnessed in his own life and in the American population at large, culminating in the events of the 2000 election, of white devilry. He felt vindicated in his anti-White racist beliefs.

Kendi explains the origins and mythology behind the Nation of Islam, whose mission was to “redeem Black people” (126), and goes on to describe Malcolm X’s conversion in prison and his role in expanding the organization once he was released from prison in 1952 (127). He describes Malcolm X’s subsequent rejection of the NOI teachings after his pilgrimage to Mecca, where he saw a more universal acceptance of people of all races among Muslims (128). Here, Kendi presents Malcolm X’s realization as the idea that “Black people can be racist toward White people” (128), and explains the antiracist idea of not conflating White racism with White people as a whole (128-129).

Kendi also points out the many ways racist policies primarily benefit those in power, and actually harm most working class White people, who are often manipulated by misleading ideas about how policies to restore equity will harm them (129-130). He also notes how Blacks who focus their hatred on Whites as a whole as the source of the problem end up losing focus on the key source of the problem, fighting anti-Black racist policies (131). As Kendi states, “In the end, hating White people becomes hating Black people” (131). Kendi also shows the irony of White supremacy groups, including some of Trump’s supporters, who ultimately are harming the majority of White people (131-132).

Kendi ends the chapter with his description of his transition into his Sophomore year at FAMU, noting that his anti-White hate continued, at the same time that anti-Muslim hate was growing in the wake of 9/11 (132). He explains his discovery during Sophomore year of “Cheikh Anta Diop’s  two-cradle theory” (133), and Michael Bradley and Frances Cress Welsing’s theories of “environmental determinism” (133), to help explain the source of White evil. Welsing’s theory claims that aggressive White behavior can be explained as a defense mechanism Whites enact to shield themselves from terrifying feelings of inferiority and potential “genetic annihilation” (133).

Kendi then describes how he began his public writing career in fall 2003, writing a column at the FAMU student newspaper on race (135). He describes how his provocative ideas about Whites as “a different breed of human” (135), ideas which he gleaned from his recent research, were “alarming [to] White readers” (Kendi 135), and led to a confrontation with the editor of the Tallahassee Democrat, where he had an internship that he needed to keep in order to graduate with a degree in Journalism (135).

  • What hashtags would you create for Chapter 10? Where will you keep them?

Chapter 11, “Black”

What to Look For:

Kendi goes on to describe his confrontation with the editor of the Tallahassee Democrat in Chapter 11. This incident is the basis for his exploration of Black on Black racism, and his explanation of the insidious and damaging nature of what he calls the “Powerless Defense” (136), the erroneous notion that “Black people can’t be racist because [they] don’t have power” (136).

Kendi’s Use of the “N-Word”

This is a challenging chapter, with many painful examples of anti-Black racism enacted upon Black people by other Black people, throughout history, and in our current day. To demonstrate the ugliness and harmfulness of this tendency, Kendi makes frequent use of the N-word, a derogatory term that is unquestionably offensive and which is generally understood to be inappropriate for usage in any context by any user, regardless of their race. The term is also controversial, as some claim that it can be used as a term of endearment to show familiarity among friends, but this is also questionable, even among Blacks, and is not always accepted. The term is common in rap and hip-hop, further complicating its usage and when, where, and how it is deemed acceptable to use.

For more on the controversy and history surrounding the usage of this “toxic” term, see the article “Straight Talk About the N-Word,”  (Links to an external site.)in which author Sean Price interviews Arizona State University Professor Neal A. Lester, who has taught courses on this subject.

Here is a short video interview with Dr. Neal Lester, from Arizona State University Project Humanities:

In Chapter 11, Kendi unpacks the complexity of meaning behind the various usages of the N-word, as the editor of the Tallahassee Democrat used it during their confrontation, and as comedian Chris Rock used it in his 1996 HBO special, and as hip-hop artists use it (137-139), and discusses the harmful ideas beneath the usage of the word when it is used by Blacks to convey racist ideas about other Blacks whose behavior they look down on and which they do not want to be associated with (138). He shows how Blacks often assume they are “not-racist” (138), when in fact they are expressing dueling consciousness of Black pride in achievements of Blacks, while experiencing “racist shame” (138) at being associated with those Blacks whose behavior they find offensive, demeaning, dangerous, or embarrassing. He calls this anti-Black racism “the real Black on Black crime” (139).

Kendi presents numerous statistics to show how this anti-Black attitude among Blacks persisted through the Obama presidency and the Black Lives Matter movement that arose in response to “the series of televised police killings and flimsy exonerations” (139), and into the Trump “racist ascendancy” (139).

He goes on to describe the idea of the “powerless defense” (140), the erroneous idea that he acknowledges he held at the time of his run-in with the editor of the Tallahassee Democrat, that “only White people could be racist and that Black people [as well as Latinx, Asians, Middle Easterners, and Natives] could not be racist, because [they] did not have power” (140). The destructive nature of this misleading belief, as Kendi explains, is that it “shields people of color in positions of power from doing the work of antiracism. . . and shields [them] from charges of racism even when they are reproducing [and justifying] racist policies” (140).

Kendi provides numerous statistics in a lengthy catalogue, or list, of “Black policymakers and managers” (141), showing the many Blacks who are actually in positions of power, even if their power is “limited” (142), who can use their positions to work to dismantle racist policies. Kendi then provides examples to show how Blacks in power often misuse their power to perpetuate harmful racist policies (142). He includes Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in this list (142), along with former Ohio Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell, who, as Kendi explains, was responsible for “the most egregious Black on Black racist crime in recent American history” (142), the insidious and widespread voter suppression tactics he engineered which led to George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004 (142-143). Kendi notes Blackwell’s joining of Trump’s “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity in May 2017” (143), suggesting that his experience in voter manipulation is likely being used to “suppress the voting power of Trump’s opponents. . .especially. . .Black[s]” (143).

Kendi notes that the duality of the “powerless defense” perpetuates harmful attitudes like Black on Black racism, colorism among ethnic groups, anti-immigration policies, and “mass incarceration policies” (144). He acknowledges that he has held both racist and antiracist ideas throughout his life, and that he has “been antiracist one moment, racist in many more moments” (144). He is not condoning this flip-flopping, or his racist attitudes; he is rather showing, through his own example of his evolving viewpoints, that it is possible for Black people to be racist and that it is important not to deny this through the “powerless defense.”

Kendi then provides a historical overview of well-known Black racists who have been responsible for perpetuating anti-Black racist ideas and policies through time, starting in 1526, with “a Moroccan Moor who was kidnapped after he visited sub-Saharan Africa” (144), who described his experiences in a book he wrote of his enslavement, and which became highly influential in spreading anti-Black racist views throughout Europe in the 16th century, just as many European countries were entering the slave trade (144). Kendi’s catalogue, or list, of influential Black on Black racism through history includes the story, published in 1657, of a planned slave revolt in Barbados that was stopped by other slaves who were loyal to their masters (145), along with the first slave narrative, published in 1772, by a former Black slave who had been captured in Nigeria, who, when later freed from the various masters that he had apparently comfortably endured, also described his experience of being taken from Africa as a relief, that he was apparently grateful to have been saved from life as a “heathen” (145).

Kendi also describes how Denmark Vesey’s planned slave revolt of 1822, which had an estimated “army” of 9,000 slaves ready to participate, was foiled by a house slave who was loyal to his master (145-146). This same former slave was later emancipated and took on the ways of his former master, holding slaves of his own (146). Kendi also describes William Hannibal Thomas, “the ‘Black Judas’” (146-147), who, at the turn of the 20th century, wrote an influential book describing Blacks as “an ‘intrinsically inferior type of humanity’” (qtd. In Kendi 146), and who supported a series of anti-Black racist policies to encourage “’national assimilation’” (qtd. In Kendi 147). However, as Kendi describes, he was eventually discredited and died unknown and poor (147).

In the twentieth century, as Kendi notes, Black on Black racism continued, with abusive Black police officers in the 1960s, who, ironically, had been expected to treat Blacks more humanely (147), and with continued police abuse by Black officers in our current day. Kendi catalogues the many recent well-known killings made famous by the Black Lives Matter movement, and notes the involvement of Black officers in each case (147-148).  Kendi makes a concession, here, citing a 2017 study that showed that White officers were much less likely (27%) than Black officers (57%) to say that the deaths of Blacks during police encounters were “‘signs of a broader problem’” (148), i.e. racism.

Kendi then describes the roots of the movement toward mass incarceration in the 1960s and following decades that saw an increase in “violent crime [that] engulfed impoverished neighborhoods” (148). He notes how the idea of “‘Black on Black crime’” (148-149) was fueled by anti-Black racist ideas that overlooked poverty as a cause, perpetuated by racist policies. Continuing into the 1980s, this ongoing Black on Black racism continued, as Kendi describes, during the Reagan years, when discrimination cases were regularly dismissed in court, and when low income public-housing funds were cut and redirected to support corporations “and Republican donors” (149). Kendi notes that Trump’s current Black Housing and Urban Development (HUD) director, Ben Carson, continues this perpetuation of anti-Black racist policies today.

Kendi ends the chapter describing how he capitulated to the demands of the editor of the Tallahassee Democrat, who insisted that Kendi “terminate [his] [controversial] race column for the Famuan [school paper]” (149), in order to maintain his internship, which he needed in order to graduate. Kendi then notes how this moment led to another important milestone on his journey towards antiracism, with his decision to take on a second major of African American studies in his Senior year.

  • What hashtags did you create for Chapter 11? Are they easy to remember?

Chapter 12, “Class”

What to Look For:

In Chapter 12, Kendi takes on capitalism, showing how it is essentially harmful and racist. He calls capitalism and racism “conjoined twins. . .two sides of the same destructive body” (163). He begins the chapter describing his “ghetto” (151) neighborhood in Philadelphia, where he moved to go to graduate school at Temple University in 2005 (151), majoring in African American studies. He points out that people often attribute the negative behavior seen in these types of low-income neighborhoods, i.e. criminal activities, with Black behavior, rather than associating the problems in these areas with the racist policies that are actually responsible for them. He provides a brief overview of the development of “ghetto” areas in inner cities, with the movement of Blacks migrating from the South to Northern cities to escape racism and to seek out economic opportunities, which led to “White flight” to suburban areas (152) and the subsequent deterioration of inner city areas.

Kendi explains the intersection of “class racism” (152-153) in this chapter, where exploitive elitist policies affecting poor people combine with exploitive racist policies affecting Black people, or other groups. As he states, “When we racialize classes, support racist policies against those race-classes, and justify them by racist ideas, we are engaging in class racism. . .To be antiracist is to root the economic disparities between the equal race-classes in policies, not people” (153). He differentiates between attitudes of segregationists, assimilationists, and antiracists towards “pathological” (152-154) “ghetto” conditions, noting how the blame shifts from people, to environment, to policies with each of these groups, respectively (153).

Kendi provides a historical overview, once again, of the evolution of thinking about poverty and race, noting groundbreaking, though problematic (due to their racist, even if well-meaning, attitudes) studies published in the book Dark Ghetto, by psychologist Kenneth Clark (152), and in the work of anthropologist Oscar Lewis, in the 1960s, “when scholarship on poverty was ascendant” (153). He notes that Lewis’s concept of the “culture of poverty” (153), which he introduced in a 1959 study of Mexican families, differed from studies done by other economists, who “explored the role of policy in the ‘cycle of poverty’—predatory exploitation moving in lockstep with meager income and opportunities, which kept even the hardest-working people in poverty” (153-154). Lewis, as Kendi notes, “reproduced the elitist idea that poor behaviors keep poor people poor” (154). In contrast, Clark’s idea, as Kendi explains, was that conditions of poverty caused people to behave pathologically. Kendi notes that this view was an update of the “oppression-inferiority” complex, where previously slavery, then segregation, and now poverty and “life in the ‘ghetto’ made Black people inferior” (154).

Kendi discusses hypocritical, elitist attitudes about welfare recipients, who are seen as becoming unmotivated and dependent, while the rich, who receive government handouts through tax cuts, inheritances, or bailouts, are overlooked (154). He makes a concession, acknowledging Clark’s thorough “chronicl[ing] of the racist policies that made ‘the dark ghetto’” (155), but points to Clark’s “reinforce[ing] [of] the racial-class hierarchy. . .position[ing] the Black poor as inferior to Black elites like himself” (155). Kendi notes the harmful perpetuation of the “stereotype of the hopeless, defeated, unmotivated poor Black [which] is without evidence. Recent research shows, in fact, that poor Blacks are more optimistic about their prospects than poor Whites” (155).

Kendi provides a historical overview of the intersection between capitalism and racism, beginning with the Portuguese slave trade, calling them the “conjoined twins” (156) that were birthed together. He traces their evolution through Native American genocide, slave labor of Natives, Blacks, Asians, and Whites in the Americas, and then the Industrial revolution “that financed still-greater empires in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries” (157). He traces their continued growth into the twentieth century, with the influence of the major world powers of the United States, China, and the European Union (157), and provides statistics showing the effects on Blacks and Latinx groups most affected by unemployment and poverty due to racist and capitalist exploitation and inequity (157). He described the “double burden” of poor Blacks who live within neighborhoods where there is “a poverty of resources and opportunities” (158), and where “poverty is visible and surrounds its victims” (158).

Kendi notes that both racist policies and exploitive capitalist polices will need to be addressed to solve the problems of inequities between groups, and within groups, and notes the growing disparity between the rich and the poor within racial groups (158-159). He clarifies that anticapitalist policies do not necessarily guarantee antiracism, and provides historical examples of anticapitalist groups that failed to protect people of color within their groups (159-160). He provides examples of anticapitalist policies, including attempts to prevent monopolies and strengthen unions, the development of more worker-owned companies, the broadening of protective regulations for consumers, workers and the environment, the increase of taxes on the rich, and the guaranteeing of a basic income, all of which, as he claims, “provide a safety net for all people” (161). He also catalogues the many ways capitalism exploits people and harms the environment, while protecting the rich (161-163).

  • As you read this chapter, you can consider your own attitudes towards capitalism. Do you accept Kendi’s definition of the exploitive nature of capitalism and its connection with racist policies? Are you reluctant to define yourself as someone who is anticapitalist? Where do your own views come from? What concerns come up in your mind regarding the kinds of changes Kendi proposes to solve problems of inequity? Can you think of alternative solutions? Do you think of yourself as being partly responsible for problems of inequity when it comes to your own role in the capitalist system? How can we justify our own needs to “make a living” and to thrive in a system which is, as Kendi defines it, inherently racist and exploitative?

At the end of the chapter, Kendi rejects the claim that the Black middle class does little to help the poor Black classes, as described in Beyond the Melting Pot in 1963, noting the many contributions of middle class Blacks to the Civil Rights movement (164-165). He also points to his own misguided efforts to acquire a sense of authenticity by moving to the Black “ghetto” in Philadelphia (164-165), and foreshadows the next stage of his journey towards antiracism, with his entrée into Black studies at his graduate school program, labeling this as a “Black space” (165), which will be the focus of his next chapter.

  • What hashtags did you use for the ideas in Chapter 12? Keep in mind that that they are meant to be for your own use, and should be made up of words and phrases that will help you remember and understand the idea represented by the hashtag in a short, concise, label, i.e. #capitalism, #conjoinedtwins.

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