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How to Be an Anti-Racist Book Club Guide

This guide includes the curriculum you need to run a book club based on Ibram X. Kendi's How to Be an Anti-Racist, as well as supplementary reading and videos.

Chapter 2

A downloadable copy of this guide can be found here.

Goals for Chapter 2

  • Learn the basics of White Supremacist history
  • Understand and explain the difference between assimilationism and anti-racism
  • Identify library-specific racist or anti-racist policies

Discussion Questions

Go over the group agreements, then discuss the following questions:

  • How has it been for you since the last meeting? Did anything from the book stick with you during that time?
  • What were your “aha!” moments while reading this chapter?
  • How can a better understanding of history combat white supremacy culture?
  • What aspects of the history related in this chapter were new to you? Which have you lived through?     
  • On page 26, Kendi mentions Eleanor Holmes Norton's idea that the " not as simple as providing necessities and opportunities." How is that true in society as a whole, and how does that play out within libraries? What are some specific actions libraries can take towards reaching a genuine, sustainable remedy?
  • On page 28, Kendi talks about deficiencies in policies. Think of a specific policy that could be changed in your library to alleviate the struggles of people--how would you change it?
  • How has the dueling consciousness of both Black people and White people helped reinforce structural racism? Are there examples that you can think of that are library-specific?
  • On page 32, Kendi talks about how both Black people and White people have advocated for assimilationist ideas. He says, "My own assimilationist ideas stopped me from noticing the racist policies really getting high during Reagan's drug war." How might assimilationist ideas impact White people's perception of racism?

Wrap up: Depending on time, you may ask people to put these in chat

  • What is a specific action you can take in the next week that is anti-racist?
  • What worked today? What didn’t work?

Additional Materials

“White Librarianship in Blackface” by April Hathcock

“The Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture” by Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)

“Oregon Black History Timeline”, Youtube video by Walidah Imarisha (19 minutes)