An important part of discussing issues raised in Kendi's book is to look at terminology/definitions.

Ibram Kendi has the following working definitions:

  • Racism: Is a marriage of racist policies and racist ideas that produces and normalizes racial inequities.
  • Racist: One who is supporting a racist policy through their actions or inaction or expressing a racist idea.
  • Antiracist: One who is supporting an antiracist policy through their actions or expressing an antiracist idea.
  • Racist Idea: Any idea that suggests one racial group is inferior or superior to another group in any way.

With permission, the following was taken from NYIT's Anti-Oppression LibGuide. Some of these terms are counter to Kendi's.

Racism: Prejudice + power. Racism is often understood as an individual state of being, as in someone is or isn’t racist. Racism, however, is not merely a personal attitude, it is a racialized system of power maintained by violence. In North America, an individual can be perpetuating this system without even being conscious of their actions (Source: Simmons College Anti-Oppression Guide)

  • Anyone can hold racial prejudice. 
  • People of any race can commit acts of mistreatment based on their racial prejudices. 
  • People of color can have prejudices, but they cannot be racist because they don't have the institutional power. 

Systemic /Structural Racism: Developed by sociologist Joe Feagin,  a system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial group inequity. It identifies dimensions of our history and culture that have allowed privileges associated with “whiteness” and disadvantages associated with “color” to endure and adapt over time. Structural racism is not something that a few people or institutions choose to practice. Instead, it has been a feature of the social, economic and political systems in which we all exist. 

Reverse-Racism: DOES NOT EXIST. There are assumptions and stereotypes about white people. However, such assumptions and stereotypes are examples of racial prejudice. Remember, racism = prejudice + power.