Racial Equity vs. Anti-Racism

Ibram Kendi, Author of “How to be an Anti-Racist”

by James C. Sherlock

I have noticed some understandable confusion in the meanings of key words in the lexicon of the left.

If you have not read the writings of anti-racist “scholars” such Ibram X. Kendi, Robin DiAngelo, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Glen Singleton and others — multi-millionaires all on the back of their anti-racist writings and speeches — you don’t have a chance.

Without the reading, there is no way on God’s earth to accurately describe their philosophy. Much less understand it. It is a masochistic mission to which I have sentenced myself. So here goes.

In current usage racial equity and anti-racism have two entirely different meanings.

  • Racial equity requires equal opportunities;
  • Anti-racism requires equal outcomes.

Anti-racism demands that all acknowledge that racism is the source of all racial disparities — that race is the primary determinant of black Americans’ lives. The disparities list usually includes:

  • less wealth;
  • poorer health;
  • lower academic achievement; and
  • higher rates of unemployment.

It is true that those disparities exist and that we must take steps to shrink them.

However, anti-racist “scholars” collect gross data, arrange them by race and point out disparities, insisting not only that correlation equals causation but that no other facts may be considered. They insist that if racism is eliminated, the disparities will disappear.

Then anti-racists define things that are artifacts of racism.

  • They consider capitalism to be racist root and branch. It thus must be eliminated.
  • Similarly they consider the common Western understanding of qualifications to be based in racist assumptions of what matters to success, the definition of which they also consider to be an artifact of racism.
  • Achievement tests and standardized tests in general must be eliminated.
  • School grades must be leveled to reflect cultural differences, not improved academic achievement. (In Albemarle County, for example, where new grading rules demand anti-racist leveling, we can confidently expect a banner headline next year in the Daily Progress that anti-racist policies improved black academic achievement.)
  • Self-reliance and personal freedom have produced unequal outcomes and thus have no place in an anti-racist society.

The claim that blacks have no agency in the outcomes of their lives is perhaps the most profoundly racist sentiment alive in the land, but it is what anti-racists profess to believe.

Anti-racists reject the 400 years of Western civilization that have advanced freedom and the rights of man.

They also proclaim that no matter how outwardly successful by white standards individual blacks may be, they nonetheless remain victims of racism. They reject the views of the many black scholars who understandably openly disagree with them and declare them to be racists as well.

When you only have a hammer everything looks like a nail.

It also means that people like me, who try through the General Assembly to improve the access to primary medical and dental care for white and black people living in pockets of poverty in Virginia, are considered to not understand that it is racism, not access to healthcare, that has determined health disparities. At least for the black poor.

Thus we are racist. Because we are not anti-racist. And the poor white component of our efforts is not helpful to the cause.

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36 responses to “Racial Equity vs. Anti-Racism

  1. I’m pretty sure Mr. Kendi equates racial equity with equal outcomes. Notice the way he uses the term in this statement proposing an anti-racist amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

    “To fix the original sin of racism, Americans should pass an anti-racist amendment to the U.S. Constitution that enshrines two guiding anti-racist principals: Racial inequity is evidence of racist policy and the different racial groups are equals. The amendment would make unconstitutional racial inequity over a certain threshold, as well as racist ideas by public officials (with “racist ideas” and “public official” clearly defined). It would establish and permanently fund the Department of Anti-racism (DOA) comprised of formally trained experts on racism and no political appointees. The DOA would be responsible for preclearing all local, state and federal public policies to ensure they won’t yield racial inequity, monitor those policies, investigate private racist policies when racial inequity surfaces, and monitor public officials for expressions of racist ideas. The DOA would be empowered with disciplinary tools to wield over and against policymakers and public officials who do not voluntarily change their racist policy and ideas.”

    “The amendment would make unconstitutional racial inequity over a certain threshold”.

    It is clear that here he is talking about outcomes – percentages based on population. There are no “thresholds” for equal opportunity.

    “The DOA would be responsible for preclearing all local, state and federal public policies to ensure they won’t yield racial inequity…”

    Here, by his use of the word “yield” he is clearly talking about outcomes, not opportunities.

    PS – Source of above quote:

    • You are correct, but many indeed most organizations that use the term racial equity do not equate it with anti-racism the way Kendi defines it. In fact most do not know how the leading anti-racism advocates define it, which is why I wrote the essay.

      Albemarle County means it the way Kendi does. Go to their school division page, read their anti-racism policy and watch the two videos.

      • Thanks.

        By the way, how do you like that proposed constitutional amendment?

        I’ll say this for Mr. Kendi, he is honest about his totalitarian intent.

        • As I said, I read his damn book and the most popular ones by the rest of the authors listed. Painful. Their diatribes against capitalism get no play at all for the obvious reason that the press does not want the public to find that out. Yet.

  2. are you sure?

    I see this: ” Anti-racism is a form of action against racism and the systemic racism and the oppression of marginalized groups.[1] Being antiracist is based on the conscious efforts and actions to provide equitable opportunities for all people on an individual and systemic level.[1] People can act against racism by acknowledging personal privileges, confronting acts of racial discrimination, and working to change personal racial biases.”

    this does not sound like advocating equal outcomes to me.

    I think we got various folks telling us what THEY think it means even as others are saying something different.

    Very few ordinary people are going to accept equal outcomes. I’ll leave that to the left and right radicals to blather about.

    At the same time, most polls show that a lot of people actually do think there are equity issues.

    Looking at this from a “right”prisim is not going to lead to a better understanding because it appears that understanding is that the goal.

    More than a few folks – do believe – that we do have equity issues which involved access to opportunities , not equal outcomes.

    Sometimes the narrative here seems to assume that people are ignorant and easily led… seems to be the “right” that thinks that – even though there is ample evidence with things like acceptance of conspiracy theories that that is actually an equal opportunity! 😉

    • I am sure. What you describe is an attempt to make anti-racism acceptable to the broader public. Same reason the advocates don’t publicize their hatred of capitalism. Same reason that course descriptions in the college catalogues are so vague.

      • We’ve ALWAYS had “hatred” of capitalism… well at least decades … but conflating that with the current issues involving equity?

        We had J. Edgar Hoover equating civil rights to communism. RIght?

        Isn’t this similar?

        • Not exactly.

          Critical race theorists like the ones cited consider capitalism to be inextricably linked to racism.

          They offer as “proof” that capitalism has “produced” unequal outcomes, and like everything else they see, they consider correlation to be causation.

          Though the anti-racism philosophers come to the conclusion that capitalism must be overthrown by a different intellectual path than Marx, replacing Marx’s class warfare with race warfare, like Marx they believe that capitalism cannot be fixed and it must be replaced. They envision replacing it not with European socialism, which provides a safety net in capitalist economies, nor even the post-Mao China model, which does the same thing, but with infinitely more social control.

          The anti-racist/CRT leaders want communism. The Maoist cultural revolution is their model. You can see it in every intellectual construct for a final solution they espouse. As for social control, see Kendi’s proposed constitutional amendment above.

          • these guys have ALWAYS been around! Do you remember “Occupy Wallstreet”?

            You’re conflating people who very much believe in capitalism but think we do have an equity problem with the wackadoodles who have been with us from way back when.

            You need to accept the reality that quite a few people do believe we do have a racial equity problem… including very capitalistic Corporations.

            Ya’ll keep ginning up this stuff and it’s just over the top.

            Some days, it’s like being in a mega echo chamber in BR!

            the voice of reason has been all but sliced and diced!

          • Larry,

            “You’re conflating people who very much believe in capitalism but think we do have an equity problem with the wackadoodles who have been with us from way back when.”

            The Fairfax County Public Schools paid one of these “wackadoodles”, as you call them, $20,000 for a 45 minute “talk” to its administrators and teachers during which he proselytized his “wackadoodle” philosophy and told them they that no matter what they said or did, they are racists.

            Why do you think the FCPS did that?

            Do you think the money FCPS paid Mr. Kendri was money well spent?

        • It’s the “anti-racists” who are linking capitalism and racism, Larry, not us. Why don’t you ask Mr. Kendri why he is doing it?

    • I see this:

      “The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”

      –Ibrahim X. Kendi

  3. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    The American identity is centered on independence, initiative, self reliance, individuality, and the unquenchable thirst for individual rights. The Critical Race Theory is perhaps the greatest challenge to our core identity in 159 years.

    • “The American identity is centered on independence, initiative, self reliance, individuality, and the unquenchable thirst for individual rights.”

      Yes. And every one of those virtues is a considered a characteristic of “whiteness” by the anti-racist radicals.

    • American history rolls forward through waves of Yankee moralism and earnestness, counterpoised with moments of cynicism, exhaustion, and devil-may-care social adventurism.

      Already, private conversations I’m party to have a decidedly more scornful and wry valence than whatever outrage the partisan media verticals choose to hone in on each week.

      Fitzgerald could only publish This Side of Paradise in 1920, but the risque parlor scenes were set before the war. The foundations erode even as the movement crests. See also the turn from humorless big-P Progressive social movements to drinking culture during Prohibition, or the mood of the 60s turning to that of the 70s. Temporary mass insanity — or at least self-righteous social crusaderism — seems a reoccurring feature of a nation characterized by widespread literacy, low-church religiosity, and (as you say) a centering of the self around individual agency and rights. Feel like we’ve been here before.

      I worry recency bias magnifies the danger of the moment. If Weimarization of the US is inevitable, the undue focus on Action Right Now accelerates our descent. If we can still chart another future, well, such worries only help to close it off.

      • novalad, you comment re: Fitzgerald’s Jazz and Flapper Age – This Side of Paradise, The Great Gatsby, + Hemingway’s Sun also Rises, is spot on.

        And, if you want to see all the debris left behind when that exhausted age of excess collapsed, read Fitzgerald’s short stories The Hotel Child, One Trip Abroad, and Babylon Revisited written in late 1930/early 31 at the dawn of resultant Wiemar Republic and Zelda’s decades long captivity in mental institutions, as chaos and wars raged, the crack up of the world that nearly destroyed itself, until America saved it. That is where we are headed fast now, except this time America is going down in flames and gross dysfunction fast, the America that saved the World twice in the first half of 20th century.

        • I concur that from an institutional perspective there’s great dysfunction, but we might differ on causes. CRT and its associated radicalisms are soapbubbles with varying long-run significance. One of the features of being American is having to watch out for the crazies, be they at Mountain Meadows, Harpers Ferry, Lower Manhattan, or Seattle’s Capitol Hill. I might be wrong, but I sense this current radicalism is a fad and not a revolution.

          If there was a time when the *institutional* rot set in, it was the mid-1970s. Look at everything from family formation, fixed capital formation, wage growth, educational attainment etc., something began to turn during the Carter-Ford years. I’m liable to side with Christopher Lasch’s thesis in The Revolt of the Elites, but your mileage may vary. In any case I think America’s future capacity to rescue the world from Chinese bedevilment or Moon Nazis or whatever’s coming down the pipe does not lie in Silicon Valley’s techno-yeomanry (though this does sound very cool…), the bicoastal clerisy of the left, or some rehashed Romney 2012 campaign.

          If we’re to remain anything resembling a “nation” with elites interested in the “national welfare,” our citizens need more in common with each other than legal status and tax forms, which is all we have and all that’s likely to remain. But no great power’s history finds its high-water mark at mere nation or republic. With the energy and intelligence and resources now endemic to the States, I think we have a long and interesting history ahead of us. The crazies are likely to come along for the ride, but the institutions, not so much.

          • Lots of elementary schools closed in the late 70s due to declining enrollment. Seems like funding for education was cut way back too, if the fact that I was reading science books that talked about VACUUM TUBES from my elementary school library in 1986 was any indication…

            (by 1986, vacuum tubes had largely been obsolete for, say, 15 years. You could not buy any consumer electronics new in 1986 that had vacuum tubes in it. Well, except for a magnetron and a CRT).

          • And now there’s nothing cooler than a pristine N64 hooked up to a CRT, ideally with a Goldeneye cartridge at the ready. Idiocracy, be thankful you were schooled in the classics!

          • There’s a 13″ Sony Trinitron CRT TV set at my dad’s house. I know many gamers would drool over a TV set like that! It has audio and video inputs too.

            Just in case that isn’t enough, there’s also a Bell+Howell console TV..probably a 27″, haven’t measured… which was an educational kit he built in the mid 1970s. Unfortunately, the CRT is the kind they glued safety glass on the front, and the glue is turning white (this is known as cataracts to the folks in the vintage TV restoration hobby). Fixing this involves removing the safety glass, cleaning up the glue, and re-applying it with silicone sealant. (More modern CRTs use a metal anti-implosion band glued around the perimeter of the CRT, so they don’t have this problem).

            My first video game system was the Atari 2600. I had several of them over the course of time, starting with the original from 1977 all the way to the end of the run in 1987 or so when Atari was TV advertising them for “under 50 bucks!”.

            I had also seen the insides of all of them. They really cheapened them over the course of time.

            The going rate for Atari cartridges in yard sales in the mid-late 80s, by the way, was usually $1 a piece.

          • James Wyatt Whitehead V

            I have a 1936 Zenith Telecaster A.M. radio. Runs on tubes. Nothing sounds better.

  4. Jim – I greatly admire your latest string of posts, and your follow on commentary. Great work.

    Of course, and as you know, “these “anti-racist “scholars” such Ibram X. Kendi, Robin DiAngelo, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Glen Singleton and others — multi-millionaires all on the back of their anti-racist writings and speeches” – are quite literally climbing the wrong tree.

    “Racial disparities” have nothing whatever to do with “unequal outcomes”. “Racial disparities” is a false, non-existent construct. So is “systemic racism” a false non-existent construct. Rather it is an abstract monolithic mental construct with no grounding whatever in reality, whether it be now or in the past. History and biology have proven this again and again.

    Similarly, “Equal outcomes” for individuals, or groups of people, is an unattainable Fool’s Errand. I say Fool’s Errand because it has been tried and failed over and over again in modern times, only to result in debacle and disaster. History proves this conclusively.

    So if race and racist is not the problem, what is? And where might solutions be found?

    As I have suggested on this blog for a decade, these answers lie in our study of human cultures. How the culture of a society or human group invariable will drive that society and/or group to success and/or ruin over time, and will do so irrespective of the color of anyone’s skin, or racial makeup. Here is where ethnicity, along with much else else, can play a roll. History proves this. Now too, increasingly, anthropology, psychology, economics, neuroscience, and biology prove this, as well.

    Earlier, I have mentioned a number of books, such as Becoming Human, that help us find our to way to this problem and its solution. Now, let me add another important new book just published.

    Written by Joseph Henrich, chair of Harvard’s Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, this book, The Weirdest People in the World, shows how our human cultures drive our successes and failures as individuals, groups, and societies. In short, race has nothing to do with success or failure. Our cultures – local, regional, worldwide – have everything to do with the success or failure of individuals and groups across the globe. This includes how they organize, think, feel, perceive, live, function, innovate, create wealth or lose it, and evolve in many ways on many levels, whatever their grouping. The human species, all of it, is far more plastic, adaptable, variable, and capable of all sorts of success or failures, more so than we ever imagined. Culture is the key to lifting all of our boats.

  5. Thanks, Reed. My mission with this series is just to align the meanings of the CRT clerisy with the takeaways of regular Americans, including the readership of this blog which I judge far more knowledgeable than average. As long as that happens, I trust the readership to be way ahead of me.

  6. Baconator with extra cheese

    “These are not the equities you’re looking for”

  7. “Anti-racism”, by any definition, doesn’t have an effect on me, nor does its use bother me. Wonder why?

    • Here’s a functional definition of “anti-racist initiatives”: An effort on the part of middle management, consultants, and HR staffers to rent-seek, grow their budgets/accrue greater fees, make pitch-perfect LinkedIn posts to signal employability during a period of downward wage pressure and limited career opportunities, and (often unintentionally) endanger the livelihoods of common workers who don’t keep up with the New York Times editorial board’s notions of social propriety. Anyone with a major employer feels a visceral — and strengthening — chokehold on their conscience and their actions, even if they’re in full agreement with said chokehold’s abstract aim.

      In functional terms — power relations — the movement in question has frick-all to do with actual racial equity. The way in which the vast majority of working Americans encounter such initiatives is not through archived educational PDFs from the Smithsonian, but through burdensome new workplace rules which oh-so-coincidentally entrench the power of the very same professionals who lead the charge on social justice. Anti-racism initiatives manifest in the lived experience of the median American not as, “Shucks! This is an interesting and potentially valid idea!”, but rather as, “Great. Another trigger HR can pull on me/my top sales employee/my office buddy if Susan the next room over has a bad day.” If you want to know why so much of the current push is met with public affirmation and private eyerolls, well, this is it.

      Think I’ve said it here before, but if any party wants to have a coherent/sincere try at effective populism, federal support for collective bargaining rights to protect workers from the predations of management (financial, political, or otherwise) would be a great start.

  8. re: ” takeaways of regular Americans”

    here’s the takeaways of MANY Americans:

    I would submit that some writing here is NOT representative of many Americans but instead those mostly on the reactive right. There really is no honest attempt to lay out ;the issues and admit that significant numbers of people differ from the premise which often just launches into a diatribe with name calling, pejoratives and demeaning the character of those who have a different view.

    The polls DO show that many accept that there are underlying disparities that result in unequal outcomes – as opposed to them wanting equal outcomes mandated as repeatedly and wrongly claimed by some here.

    Calling people in urbanized areas like NOVa, “woke” and “leftists” is really childish talk of opponents trying to impress each other.

    That’s what BR has larely chosen to become these days on some issues, (save for one or two).

    Used to be – writers would strive to lay out in objective terms the issues and THEN would take a Conservative or Libertarian view.

    I’m thankful that Dick and a couple others still try to lay out the issues in objective terms and then they weigh in with their view without name-callling and pejoratives.

    • Your poll shows that the majority of adult Americans believe that Americans have gone far enough or too far in giving blacks equal rights with whites.

      Your arguments are illogical on a good day and hopeless on a bad day.

      For example, you believe that a $600 prep course is a significant reason why black students fail to qualify for admission to Thomas Jefferson High School. Similar prep courses, such as those for the SAT, show minimal impact on actual scores. Beyond that, white students are dramatically under-represented at TJ. One can only assume that there is a vast pool of poor but qualified white students living in Northern Virginia who cannot afford to take the TJ entrance exam test prep course. Per your argument, that’s the reason that white students constitute half of the percentage of kids at TJ vs their representation in Fairfax County Public Schools. Where, pray tell, do you believe these large tracts of high performing poor white students live in Northern Virginia? You know, the ones whose parents can’t afford a $600 prep course.

      • Well, it’s not my Poll – I just provide it for educational purposes for folks like you!

        One thing to pay attention to is the split at the bottom between Dems and GOP –

        Similarlily, I do not think $600 is any kind of a number compared to the fact that only 2% of TJ attendees are econmically disadvantaged. It’s not what I think – it’s facts and it’s probably way more than $600.

        The bigger point – are you okay with the fact that only 2% of ED are making it into TJ?

    • I would submit that the writings of the leaders of the “anti-racist” movement are NOT representative of many Americans but instead those mostly on the far left. These writing really offer no honest attempt to lay out the issues and admit that significant numbers of people differ from their premise, and often just launch into diatribes with name calling, pejoratives and demeaning the character of those who have a different view.

  9. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    The NAACP in Loudoun wants to eliminate grades and testing for consideration to attend the Loudoun Academy of Science and other gifted programs. A “C” should be sufficient for consideration.

  10. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    The terms of that the Loudoun NAACP is demanding of the school board. Some interesting good ideas here. Some awful ones too. It will be difficult to win the branch over.

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