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 “Interrogation of Everything”

The Tension of Two Postures

CvilleFrom the conclusion of The Mennonite blog post “Nonviolence Against White Supremacy After Charlottesville” by Tim Nafziger and Mark Van Steenwyk: 

We are both Christian pacifists committed to creative responses to white supremacy that step outside the myth of redemptive violence.

Pacifists are at their best when they commit to strong solidarity and are willing to lay their lives on the line for the ones they love. It can be a pure expression of compassion–suffering with the oppressed in such a way as to magnify the full humanity of the oppressed while, at the same time, showing love for the oppressor as well. Continue reading “The Tension of Two Postures”

Vincent Harding, rebels and MJ Sharp

Untitled-designBy Joanna Shenk, pastor at First Mennonite Church of San Francisco.
Written for The Mennonite.

Alongside writing Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “Beyond Vietnam” speech, Vincent Harding also wrote and delivered a speech to Mennonites in Amsterdam that same year. He made a call to Mennonites that, unrealized in that era, was fulfilled by Michael Jesse (MJ) Sharp.

At the Mennonite World Conference in Amsterdam in 1967, Harding urged the mostly Western Mennonite audience to take seriously the concerns and anger of the poor and dispossessed across the world. He articulated why these people were angry and why they were justified in that anger due to the colonization of their land, the exploitation of their people and the theft of their natural resources.

Continue reading “Vincent Harding, rebels and MJ Sharp”