African American Heritage Month Lecture
The African American Heritage Month Lecture is one of the highlight events taking place at Carolina in recognition of the historical background that has shaped the contributions of African Americans to our country. Previous speakers have included Brenda Stevenson, Hasan Kwame Jeffries, Dr. Tera W. Hunter, and more.
This year’s speaker was author and historian, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, who spoke on “Racist Ideas in America: From Slavery to Black Lives Matter.”
Kendi is one of the nation’s most prolific and accomplished young professors of race, writing for and speaking to both scholarly and general audiences. This lecture builds on Kendi’s firm belief that in order to understand racism in America today, we must confront the history of anti-Black ideas. Kendi traces this history of racist ideas; beginning in 15th century Europe when racist ideas were used to legitimize slave trade, up until modern day America when unarmed human beings were being killed at the hands of law enforcement officials and #BlackLivesMatter was born. In shedding light on the history of racist ideas, he gives his audience the tools to expose them and reason to hope for the future..
When Dr. Ibram X. Kendi won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2016 for a book about the history of racist ideas in America, some people felt a disconnect. Emerging from eight years of leadership under an African-American president, a narrative was building in America about the emergence of a post-racial society, colorblind to race and valuing merit over skin color. Kendi challenges this notion in his New York Times-bestselling book Stamped From The Beginning, taking an expansive view on race and racist ideas that spans from 15th century Europe until modern day America.
Kendi embarked on the research for his book under the assumption that the major producers of racist ideas were hateful and ignorant. And that borne from racist ideas were racist policies like slavery, Jim Crow, and mass incarceration. But as Kendi dug deeper and contextualized motives, he began to gain a new understanding of the cause and effect actually at play. He soon discovered that political, economic, and cultural self-interest are behind the creation of racist policies and these policies in turn create the racist ideas that rationalize the deep inequities in everything from wealth to health.
Ibram X. Kendi is Professor of History and International Relations and the Founding Director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. He is a frequent public speaker who speaks with great expertise and compassion about the findings of his book and how they can fit into the national conversation surrounding movements such as #BlackLivesMatter and social justice.
February 7, 2019, 6-8 p.m., Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History
Related link: Carolina Community Honors Black History Month (UNC.edu)