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ReadUP 2021: How to Be an Antiracist: Discussion Questions


Please consider the following list of questions created by the UP Office of Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity when reading, How to Be an Antiracist. The questions can also be found attached as a pdf below.

Discussion Questions for How to Be an Antiracist

Chapters 1-9:

  1. Put into your own words some of the most important distinctions Kendi makes among the terms “racist,” “antiracist” and “not racist?” Which among his examples did you find the most compelling? Why?
  2. Unpack your perception of what Kendi means when he speaks of “dueling consciousnesses” within Black people, and within White people.
  3. To be antiracist means dropping a lot of baggage you’ve accumulated in your time on this planet. What baggage do you struggle to let go of?
  4. Kendi ends Ch 4 by asserting “there is only one race, and it is the human race.” What are some misuses of science and religion he documents as contributing to biological racism? Have you encountered those in your own life? Can they be fought effectively? How?
  5. The ethnic racism Kendi describes in Ch 5 raises a lot of “dust, hurt and confusion” in,  and between ethnic groups. Can you provide some examples from the text? From your own direct experience?
  6. What are some ways that Kendi obliterates the notion of “bodily racism” in Ch. 6 ?
  7. In what ways have you/we racialized culture and language in harmful ways?
  8. How do you understand the way Kendi portrays the problem of colorism in Ch. 9?

Chapters 10-18:

  1. What do you think about Kendi’s descriptions of—and problems related to—anti-white racists?
  2. What would you want to ask Kendi about “the powerless defense” he writes about in Ch. 11?
  3. What role(s) does White privilege play in Black on Black racism, as laid out by Kendi in Ch. 12?
  4. Can racial space ever be even?
  5. What do you consider to be the most crippling effects of gender racism? Do you see ways Gender racism is different from other kinds of racism? How so?
  6. What should an antiracist really understand deeply about queer racism?
  7. As you think about what you know about taking actions to defeat racism, you will probably come up with some failures and some successes. Some failures should just be retired (like what?) , while other failures have some germ of good potential, but need to be handled/grown differently (like what?).
  8. What do successful antiracist practices and policies have in common? What can we helpfully borrow or imitate?

Questions for Dr., Kendi? On March 31, Dr. Kendi will engage the UP community in a dynamic conversation that addresses questions from those who have participated in ReadUP. Book discussion groups across campus will harvest questions, and for those reading on their own, this link takes you to a simple form on which you can supply questions you’d like to add to the mix. Questions will be generously curated by staff in the Office of International Education, Diversity and Inclusion, with the goal of hearing from as many people as possible. | 503.943.7111 or 800.841.8261 | 5000 N. Willamette Blvd., Portland, OR 97203-5798
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