Panelists Discuss 'How To Be An Antiracist'

Book by author Ibram X. Kendi offers foundation for 2020 Social Justice Book Lecture

For the 2020 UMKC Social Justice Book Lecture, the Division of Diversity and Inclusion hosted a panel discussion centered on the New York Times bestselling book “How To Be An Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi.

The conversation included topics such as agreeing on a common understanding of the term “racist,” understanding the framework of systemic racism and why equity is a lot like justice.

Meet the panelists:

  • Cecilia Belser-Patton, principal and culture curator of JUST Systems
  • Gwendolyn Grant, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City 
  • Rodney D. Smith, Ed.D., vice president for access and engagement at William Jewell College; co-founder of Sophic Solutions, LLC. 
  • Mikah Thompson (moderator), associate professor at UMKC School of Law
  • Ajamu Webster, CEO/founder, structural engineer at DuBois Consultants  

Below are some excerpts from the conversation.

“The system is getting exactly what it was designed to get. It was designed to oppress Black people, it was designed to suppress our ability to engage in American capitalism. And so it has created this persistent and pervasive divide across all quality of life indicators.” —Gwendolyn Grant

“When we hear the term [racist] levied and people have such umbrage and take such offense. ‘Oh no, I’m not a racist.’ What I think people mean is, ‘I’m not a hate monger.’ Because we’ve done such a poor job of defining how race really works in our society. Most of the time when I’m talking about race and racism it’s in the structural and systemic sense.” —Rodney D. Smith

“No matter what else we do, that intersection of race is always coming in, no matter how many degrees we have, no matter what we earn. People got real irritated with me when I said you can’t out zip code race. You cannot. You can live wherever you want to live, you can choose to live wherever you want to live and there will still be an intersection of our race in all of that.” —Cecilia Belser-Patton 

“As long as  [racism] is looked at as a moral issue, then moral suasion can be an option that might have benefit, but moral suasion isn’t enough when the entire economic, political, social, cultural and — before scientific — structure was set up to justify the founding and continuation of the American project at the expense of African people.” —Ajamu Webster

Watch the event recording below. 

Published: Nov 2, 2020

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