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How to Be an Anti-Racist Discussion Questions

  • In the introduction, Kendi describes the irony of competing in an MLK speech contest at a high school named after Andrew ‘Stonewall” Jackson. What are some other things (personal experiences, or systemic) that we’ve noticed that appear inclusive at first glance but in fact have very racist roots or backgrounds that haven’t been amended?

  • Intro: Kendi writes “racist ideas make white people think more of themselves.” What is attractive about racism? Why would someone consciously or unconsciously participate in it? Kendi explains how people dating all the way back to prince henry, the first mass enslaver, all the way to current trump, use racism to build wealth and personal power. But what do poor white people, for example, or other black people, have to gain from racism?

  • Ch1: Kendi says discrimination isn’t always a bad thing; that it can be positive or negative and the difference is whether the type of discrimination promotes equity. He uses an example of the covid vaccine being given to elderly people first. What examples of positive discrimination when it comes to promoting equity for oppressed races can we think of?

  • Ch2: What in our current world resembles “the war on drugs” or racism being disguised as something else?

  • Ch2/Ch7. Kedi discusses America's hesitancy to blame the system and their inclination to instead blame black people (blaming the SAT tests themselves vs black people who score lower, etc). Why do we think Americans are trained to see the deficiencies of people and not policy? Why is it easier to blame people than to blame a system?

  • Ch2. How should we as white ally’s navigate the double standard of black self-reliance? Reminder: Kendi says that black self-reliance is a double edged sword. On the one hand, it’s meant to help us reject white saviorism, and remember that black people often know how to best help themselves, and white people should follow their lead, not jump in and try to “save” them and often end up making things worse due to lack of understanding of black issues or promote the assimilationist idea that black people should just “be more like white people”. On the other hand, it's easy to use that logic to say that black people should “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” and ignore the systemic inequities stacked against them.

  • Ch3. Kendi regularly discusses the christian religion and how it is so often tied to racism and oppression. It was even the main excuse for excusing mass enslavement of Africans at its origins. Why is religion so often tied to oppression?

  • Ch6. Kendi regularly discusses false correlations. He cites the example of people equating black people to being more inclined to crime, and ignore the real correlations which are between poverty and crime, the economic disenfranchisement of black people, and the over-policing of black neighborhoods. What are some other false correlations, and what are some real ones we are ignoring?

  • Ch10. Do you agree with Kendi that it’s possible for one to be racist against white people?

  • What were some of your biggest takeaways from the book?

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