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How To Be An Antiracist: Book Discussion Series

Library staff professional development DEI book discussion


Discussion Questions
Chapters 13-16

Discussion Questions

Unit 4: Chapters 13, 14, 15, 16: Space; Gender; Sexuality; Failure

1. What is depicted in this mural called "When Tillage Begins"? In what ways does the artwork connect with the themes of Chapter 13?

2.  In his quick summary in Chapter 14 of Black women's movements, Black feminism,  and gendered racism, Kendi credits Philomena Essed as defining gendered racism, and briefly introduces Kimberlé Crenshaw's highly influential concept of intersectionality. Choose one of the following to address in your Reflection:

a. In becoming an antiracist, why is it useful to recognize the various -isms that intersect with and compound the effects of racism? Why is the intersection with gender particularly important?

b. Kendi mentions 20 women by name in the space of two short pages, plus refers to unnamed "Black queer activists" (whose names are also known: Marsha P. Johnson and Stormé DeLarverie, to name two, plus Sylvia Rivera, to name a Puerto Rican-Venezuelan), all on pages 187-188.  Of the women and achievements  mentioned, whose works would you most like to read more about, and why?

c. Do you think that Kendi has given "enough space" to the topics of gender and sexuality? Why or why not?

3. Throughout the book, Kendi gives numerous teaching and learning examples. In Chapter 15, he credits queer Black feminists with challenging him to address and overcome his own homophobia. He writes: "It is best to challenge ourselves by dragging ourselves before people who intimidate us with their brilliance and constructive criticism. ...I wanted to run away. They did not let me run away, and I am grateful now because of it." (p199) Earlier in the book, Kendi provides the example of meeting with the Ghanaian student to address racist misconceptions, drawing him in to conversation instead of pushing him away. In Chapter 16 Kendi states the "...failure of opening closed-minded consumers of racist ideas" should not be blamed on the closed-minded person but on "...our own foolish decision to waste time reviving closed minds from the dead." (p 213) 

  • These are all teaching and learning examples. In what ways can we apply these examples to holding ourselves and others productively accountable for understanding, addressing, and overcoming biases and intersecting oppressions? Give examples.