- Ibram X. Kendi has slammed anti-woke efforts for ‘crushing’ his momentum
- The author shot to prominence when BLM protests swept the nation
- His book ‘How To Be An Antiracist’ is one of the most banned texts in the US
Controversial author Ibram X. Kendi has conceded that efforts from anti-woke conservatives have ‘crushed’ the momentum he built up during the BLM protests.
Kendi, whose book ‘How To Be An Antiracist’ became a New York Times bestseller when backlash to the George Floyd murder swept the nation, has condemned his declining relevance three years on.
‘The momentum was just crushed by a pretty well-organized force and movement of people who are seeking to conserve racism,’ he told CNN.
In the years following his BLM-inspired success, Kendi’s work has faced criticism from conservative legislators looking to remove ‘Critical Race Theory’ from school curriculums and was in the top 50 most banned texts last year.
Kendi shot to national fame in the wake of the BLM protests in 2020, and he was seen by many as one of the figureheads of the movement.
One of the common themes of his activism is the notion of ‘antiracism’, a term for actively confronting racism, instead of merely claiming to not be racist.
But he has now slammed how the conversation has somewhat moved on, blaming those he feels have intended to ‘change the problem from racism to antiracism.’
‘And who’ve tried to change the problem from police violence to the people speaking out against police violence,’ he added.
The 40-year-old lecturer often speaks in his work about doubting his own intellect, an issue he lays at the door of standardized testing in schools.
‘I didn’t fully overcome those doubts until I started rethinking what it means to be intelligent.
‘We have been taught that the more intelligent you are, the better test scores you’ll get. But the more I understood intelligence, the more I realized that intelligence should be defined as a great capacity to know.’
According to a report by PEN America, Kendi’s 2019 book was among the most banned texts in school districts across the nation during the 2021/2022 academic year.
The controversial tome examines different cultural themes through the lens of how to be ‘antiracist’, including gender, whiteness and class.
Speaking about the text’s place amid the 1,648 books that were banned by school districts at the time, Kendi said he wasn’t ‘surprised’ at the move.
‘For the better part of American history, books about people of color or racism have largely been challenged or banned.
‘What’s happened (lately) is more consistent with American history. But just as we fought those book bans in the past or just as my enslaved ancestors found ways to read abolitionist literature, so too can we fight and still read today.’
Other notable books to be removed from classrooms and libraries in recent years includes LGBT-penguin love story ‘And Tango Makes Three’ and Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison’s ‘The Bluest Eye’.
While enjoying his newfound success in 2020, Kendi released a follow up book aimed at educating children, titled ‘Antiracist Baby’.
Conceived as an instruction manual for parents to discuss racism with their children, the text proposes nine steps for grappling with the subject and helping kids become ‘antiracist’.
The book was set to be brought to life in an animated series in Netflix, before the streaming service pulled the plug last year.