Thursday, April 22, 2021

"Antiracist Baby": Ibram X. Kendi's children's book


Detroit, 2012

Author: Ibram X. Kendi, with illustrator: Ashley Lukashevsky

Title: “Antiracist Baby”; Subtitle "Picture Book"

Publication:  Kokila (Penguin, Random House), ISBN 978-0-593-11050, July 2020, 27 pages, heavily illustrated.

I picked up this book at Target today on impulse.

The book comprises a poem with illustrations, and two pages of advice for parents.

It’s a little odd to name a newborn child “Antiracist Baby” as if that were a legal name.  He does say that racial attitudes are “bred”, not inborn.  And that babies must be taught that there is no neutral ground between racism and anti-racism.  You can’t be Sweden or Switzerland during WWII.

One idea is that children who grow up in largely all white neighborhoods need to be taught intentionally that race is a major concept in our society even if it is a social construct and not scientific. He says children should not expect to be “color blind” but should be able to name what race (or possibly other intersectional group?) a person belongs to, and that categorization of people, which was taboo twenty years ago, is necessary today.

The book does distinguish between “equity” and “equality of opportunity”, the latter foreclosed by collective (and government-adopted) policy choices.

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