This past week, I started reading Ibram X. Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist. It’s required a lot of focus, a lot of re-reading of sentences and paragraphs to give myself time to absorb and take in information, and a lot of stopping to think. What Kendi makes clear throughout the first 40 percent of the book that I’ve gotten through is that racism is something that is learned, taught to us by everyone from our parents, families, friends, textbooks, schools, media — you name it, and they’re teaching racism to you in some shape or form. Some people think that it’s impossible for a Black or Asian or other “person of color” to be racist, and this could not be further from the truth. Racism against anyone is possible by anyone. Black people can be racist against White people. Asian people can be racist against Latinx people. Darker skinned Latinx people can be racist against lighter skinned Latinx people, and Black people can be racist against Black people. But I think one of the concepts he points out in the book that really made me think was that the term “racist” is oftentimes seen as a pejorative word rather than a descriptive word, and that is actually part of the problem. Someone who is striving to be an antiracist can say or do a racist thing, but that does not necessarily make the person racist because they are (we’d hope) still learning, still evolving). Being racist vs. antiracist is not static. We can evolve and change for the better (sadly, for the worst). So, we should be able to accept “racist” as a descriptive word for a specific action or statement said by an individual and not just pejoratively write them off as a “racist” forever and always.
That sounds like a growth mindset, right?