Interrogation of Everything

D18_185_015Sheldon C. Good, executive director of The Mennonite, Inc., interviewed Ibram X. Kendi about antiracism and the church by email Sept. 3. The interview, edited for clarity, appears below. The editorial in the October issue of The Mennoniteavailable here, includes part of the interview.

Kendi is author of How to Be an Antiracist. He won the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction for his book Stamped from the Beginning. He is the founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University in Washington, D.C.

1. You make the case in How to Be an Antiracist that the word “racist” has been removed from its proper usage. How did that happen?

The most virulent racists define racist as anyone who uses the r-words, race or racism. They say, racist is a pejorative term, it is the equivalent of saying I don’t like you, as Richard Spencer once said. Anyone who categorizes people by race, who calls someone racist, is the real racist, they say. Obviously, they are deeply defensive, and deeply in denial. As such, they don’t want to be called racist. They shut down and close up when they do. Some racial reformers have agreed and view “racist” as an attack. So they don’t use the term either. But racist is a descriptive term, not an attack. It describes when a person is saying there is something wrong or right with a racial group. It describes when a person is supporting racist policy with their action or inaction. Continue reading

ISIS Has Little To Do With Islam, and Everything To Do With War

ISISBy Sheldon Good & Cyrus McGoldrick, originally posted to Huff Post

In the wake of the recent attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad, the majority of people in the U.S. believe we should take part in a military response, including the use of increased U.S. airstrikes and ground forces against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. This would not only be ineffective, but exactly the trap ISIS has set (yet again). If there’s anything we should have learned since 9/11 and the “War on Terror,” it is that violence against the Muslim world cannot defeat terrorism or anti-Western anger; only respect for human rights and sovereignty will work. But before discussing that topic, one must deflate another majority belief in the U.S.: that ISIS is somehow mainstream among Muslims, or that the West is at war with “radical Islam.” Continue reading