By Corinne Murdock |
Arizona State University (ASU) featured prominent anti-racist proponent Ibram Kendi last Thursday, who proposed an authoritarian rule by anti-racist elite. Kendi said it wouldn’t be necessary for most of the country to support anti-racism — just those with power to mandate it. ASU characterized this solution and others presented by Kendi last week as the necessary steps for “meaningful change.”
“In order to create a society whereby we have policies and practices that are equitable and just and fair — and provide equal opportunity for all, and institutions that are built on those policies — we don’t necessarily need to create a critical mass of Americans who are anti-racist,” said Kendi. “We just need enough people who can get into positions of power, who will then institute [anti-racist] policies and practices.”
The campus venue for Kendi’s speech had to be relocated, reportedly due to outsized interest in the event. ASU estimated that about 1,200 individuals registered for the event. Kendi was the keynote speaker for the event: ASU’s annual A. Wade Smith and Elsie Moore Memorial Lecture on Race Relations. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as well as the School of Social Transformation organized the event.
During his speech, Kendi advocated for reparations for descendants of slaves. He also claimed that Arizona law impedes voting rights for “black, brown, and indigenous people.”
Kendi, a humanities professor and founding director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research, has written several books promoting Critical Race Theory (CRT) concepts such as institutional racism and anti-racism. In his 2019 book “How To Be An Antiracist,” Kendi claimed that everything has to do with race.
“There’s no such thing as a non-racist or race-neutral policy,” wrote Kendi.
Moderating Kendi’s speech were School of Social Transformation associate professors David Hinds and Lisa Anderson, also an associate dean in the Graduate College.
Anti-racism has support across the state’s university system. Last summer, a Northern Arizona University (NAU) teacher development affiliate made anti-racism the focus of its annual summer conference. NAU also trained faculty in anti-racism as part of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts.
Support for anti-racism policies and practices has also dictated Arizona’s K-12 schools in the past — though the current Arizona Department of Education administration opposes it. Arizona’s first inductee into the National Teachers Hall of Fame declared that even “nice, white folks” could be racist if they didn’t subscribe to anti-racism, and that teachers opposed to anti-racism shouldn’t be allowed to teach black children.
School districts in recent years have established or supported policies and groups that subscribe to anti-racism, such as Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) and Litchfield Elementary School District (LESD).