For Discussion #3, you will need to write a two-part response to the first several chapters of Kendi’s book (his Intro, and Chapters 1, 2, and 3). (See the Week #3 Overview Page for a review of What to Look For in each chapter.)
Write a personal response, describing either your own “origin story” and your own family background, or describe an early episode in your life in which you experienced “race consciousness,” or your own awareness of your own cultural identity.
Extend the discussion with research on one of the topics, events, or people mentioned in Kendi’s Intro or in Chapters 1, 2, or 3, or do some research on the history of your own cultural group. (You should use sources other than Wikipedia for your research.)
Some possible research topics from Kendi’s book: Stonewall Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Donald Trump’s anti-immigration policies, Plessy v. Ferguson and Jim Crow segregation, Black Liberation Theology, Stokely Carmichael, the Great Migration, the Reagan-era war on drugs, the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s, W.E.B. Du Bois, Portugal and the slave trade of the 1400s, Henry the Navigator.
(Approx. 450-500 words; more is fine.)
You will also need to respond to another student’s post.
My discussion :
In Kendi’s writing, the outstanding Claim is that of Fact that racism is a concept that people are taught by society and not born with it. I attest to this Claim after listening to my friend’s story about her experience with racism. Being an Arab from the Middle East, my friend grew up with fellow Arabs and had only interacted with White investors. Most of her friends, siblings, and agemates were from the same tribes and had the same skin color as hers and thus, no one had a big deal about our races. Therefore, she was very green in the field of racial differences. At 10 years old, however, her parents relocated to the US as they had received better job opportunities. This meant that they had to shift with them and join new schools. She was very excited that they were going to the US and that they would make friends with White children. However, this would soon lead to her understanding and embracing her racial consciousness, like is the case portrayed in Ch. 3 of Kendi’s writing where the narrator noticed that he was among the few Black students in his new school.
The first thing that she noticed in school is that many kids were Whites with a light skin tone compared to hers. She also noticed that many students stared at her. Just like in Kendi’s writing (…At 7 years old, I began to feel the encroaching fog of racism overtaking my dark body…, p.35), during break sessions, the White kids often laughed at her Arab accent while speaking English. She never knew she had an accent until she joined that school. This made her cry and she told her parents who encouraged her to ignore the unkind words. Another thing that made her conscious of her cultural identity is that most hairdressers and barbers did not know how to handle her hair. They would often refuse to work on her hair and this meant that her mum would create time to work her hair. This proved the Claim of Value that her body is often considered different from others. This made her conscious of her identity as she also started comparing herself with other students in school; just like how the narrator was aware of his surroundings according to Kendi’s book (…I sensed their discomfort and felt my own…feeling sick being so far from home in this foreign neighborhood…, p.35).
From being racial conscious, I now relate with the various writings of famous Black individuals who addressed the concept of race during their regime. I understand that racism gives people the power to judge others in harsh ways. As explained in Chapter 3 of Kendi’s writings (…race creates new forms of power. The power to categorize and judge, elevate and downgrade…, p.38), racism allows room for people to include and exclude others in all aspects of life, especially in developmental activities. Similarly, Martin Luther King explained how Blacks continue to be separated and sidelined based on their racial background (Vail, 2006). This is something that I have also witnessed in my life. For instance, while looking for part-time jobs, I often do not get the chance because of store managers’ site challenges when working with Blacks. Just as Martin Luther King expresses that it is difficult to own businesses due to racism.
Furthermore, Martin Luther King also cited issues of disparities in the sharing of funds and resources among all races because the Black race was considered less superior just like illustrated in Kendi’s book (…a racist idea is any idea that suggests one racial group is inferior or superior to another racial group in any way…, p.20). This was proof of the Claim of Policy where both Kendi and Martin witnessed discrimination that was fueled by the existing policies. From Martin’s speech, it can be seen that the Blacks and other minority populations were neglected during the allocation of funds and resources while their White counterparts continued to flourish and receive better funding opportunities (Vail, 2006). This was properly illustrated in Kendi’s book in Chapter 1 where it is stated that “…racial inequality is when two or more racial groups are not standing on approximately equal footing…, p,18” This is also something that continues to be witnessed in the US today despite having efforts aimed at enhancing equity.
Vail, Mark. “The” Integrative” Rhetoric of Martin Luther King Jr.’s” I Have a Dream”
Speech.” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 9.1 (2006): 51-78.
My friend discussion (
I was born and raised in Vietnam, an Asian country. Just like what we can see from the “memes” on the internet or the stereotype we usually think about Asian parents, I grew up with strict parents who have high expectations of me. Every parent hopes their kids will become someone that they can be proud of, there is nothing wrong with it. But both my parents’ sides are mostly doctors, pharmacists, or chemical/biological engineers. Ever since I was in my early teenager stage, my parents have guided me to become a pharmacist or a chemical engineer, to “pursue the family business”. They were not really hard, they did not put much pressure on me, but through the small talks, they usually mentioned which pharmacy school is the best, or how successful my uncles and aunts are with their doctor-related jobs. They signed me up for chemistry extra classes after school. And just like that, I kept following their instructions, even though what I really wanted was to be creative. A musician, a software engineer writing codes and developing new programs, or an architecture. Just like Kendi states in his book How to be an Antiracist, “Their minds are being held captive, and our adults’ minds are right there beside them, […]. Because they somehow think that the cultural revolution that began on the day of my dream’s birth is over” (Kendi 7), my mind was shaped like that. But I was still luckier than one of my childhood friends. He has been a hyperactive boy since he was a little kid. When he went to school, he liked to spend time playing soccer than studying in class. He was the best forward player on my school team and led my school to many victories. But his parents always criticized him for his academic results. Just like that, he kept thinking he was stupid and worthless, like the author mentioned when he surprisingly got accepted in college, “I thought I was a subpar student and was bombarded by messages—from Black people, White people, the media—that told me that the reason was rooted in my race…which made me more discouraged and less motivated as a student” (Kendi 6). He ended up leaving the soccer team to go to a college but later dropped out from it because he had no motivation. When my family immigrated to the US, we all had a more open mind. Now I am pursuing my dream of becoming a software engineer and my parents are happy with it, as long as I enjoy what I am doing.
But since I came to America, I witnessed a lot of racial judgments. I was surprised at how they still exist nowadays. A black man lost his life just because he was thought to be using fake money, causing the BLM protests. Or an old Asian guy was beaten to death in San Francisco because he was thought to carry the Covid virus. This absurd racial discrimination has to stop now. Just like Martin Lutherking stated in his speech, “Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice” (Lutherking). With the pandemic going on and no one knows when it ends, we have to rely on each other to go through this. Just think about when you get the virus and have to go to a hospital, will you be picky on what race of the doctor to treat you? Or when we call the police for help, would we turn them down if they do not have the same race as us? In order to end racism, we all need to put our hands and trust in this. “With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day” (Lutherking). No matter what skin color you have, only you can define your future. You do not have to be a doctor because you are Asian, you do not have to be an athlete because you are black. Like Kendi states in the third chapter in his book, “… race is a mirage, which doesn’t lessen its force. We are what we see ourselves as, whether what we see exists or not” (Kendi 24). We must see people as what they do, what they contribute to the world, not by the color of their skin. Only when we can treat people for who they truly are, the dream of Martin Lutherking will be fulfilled. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by their character” (Lutherking).
– Kendi, Ibram. How to Be an Antiracist. Bodley Head, 2019.
– “Martin Luther King, JR. : I Have a Dream SPEECH (1963).” U.S. Embassy & Consulate in the Republic of Korea, 11 Feb. 2020, kr.usembassy.gov/education-culture/infopedia-usa/living-documents-american-history-democracy/martin-luther-king-jr-dream-speech-1963/.
my friend discussion (#2)
First of all, I am very lucky to be born in China. I have to say that the word “racial discrimination” is something I didn’t know until I came to the United States, because it doesn’t exist in China. In China in the 70’s there was no development and people were living very hard. My parents were living in this era. When I was little, I loved to hear my parents tell stories about their lives, or have my dad tell me stories about my grandfather’s generation. I think my dad told me about the time when my grandfather lived in a very tragic time, when China was being invaded by foreign countries. It was also the time when my grandfather and his family were separated and my grandfather witnessed the brutal murder of his sister. Therefore, when I was young, I realized that some foreigners were prejudiced against Chinese people.
In the first chapter, Kendi mainly explained the definitions of “antiracist” and “racist”. One of the most impressive explanations is “If discrimination is creating equity, then it is antiracist. If discrimination is creating inequity, then it is racist”(38). I think what he said is right. For example, he gave data on racial residential houses. “71 percent of White families lived in owner-occupied homes in 2014, compared to 45 percent of Latinx families and 41 percent of Black families” (36). When China was still very poor, many countries began to discriminate against China. In 1900, the world formed the Eight-Power Alliance and invaded China together. In the article “When Americans Ruled Beijing”, Franz Mentioned what the Eight-Power Allied Forces did to the Chinese. For example, he said “Stephen Dwyer, a US Marine, forced his way into a Chinese home wielding a bludgeon to “brutally assault and strike a Chinese child of tender years… driving it from its home and thereby hastening its death””. The war ended with China signing an unequal treaty. In this war we can see that because China was not strong enough at that time, other countries discriminated against China and thought that Chinese lives were not lives and therefore could be killed indiscriminately.
In chapter 2, Kendi mentions Thomas Jefferson’s claim that “all men are created equal” (65). I don’t think there is anything wrong with this statement per se, but the history before it was true so not everyone would think so. In Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, he was conveying the desire for freedom, equality, and a better future for black people, but racism still exists today. Frederick spoke about his life experiences in “Why I Must Speak Out About Racial Discrimination”. One of his lines is “you told me I was a criminal before I knew what jail was”. I can tell how powerful racial prejudice is when he says this.
Kendi said “It is a racial crime to be yourself if you are not White in America. It is a racial crime to look like yourself or empower yourself if you are not White” (77). It can be said that this form is caused by Henry the Navigator. Cartwright said in the introduction of Henry the Navigator that “he assembled a learned group of designers and maritime experts to design new ships, maps, and navigational instruments. Then funded expeditions to use this knowledge to sail the High Seas and explore the West African coast”. So later there was the slave trade.
Franz,Stefan Gady. “When Americans Ruled Beijing”. The diplomat, June 4, 2015.
Frederick, Edwards Jr. “Why I Must Speak Out About Racial Discrimination”. Youtobe,
June 29, 2017.
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