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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 3

A downloadable copy of this guide can be found here.

Goals for Chapter 3

  • Understand the meaning of racist power and its underlying causes
  • Identify key points of ones' upbringing and understanding of race

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?
  • What is one way in which racist power has hurt or benefited you?
  • How old were you before you had a Black teacher?
  • Dr Kendi writes, “...my parents discovered that I had entered racial puberty. At seven years old, I began to feel the encroaching fog of racism overtaking my dark body.” (p37)
    • People enter “racial puberty” at various ages. How do we have constructive conversations with people, regardless of their understanding of race, about our anti-racist policies?
  • “Some White people do not identify as White for the same reason they identify as not-racist: to avoid reckoning with the ways that Whiteness -- even as a construction and mirage -- has informed their notions of America and identity and offered them privilege, the primary one being the privilege of being inherently normal, standard, legal.” (p38). In what ways is it important to identify the library as a White institution?
  • On page 42: “From the Junior Black Americans of Achivement series onward, I had been taught that racist ideas cause racist policies. That ignorance and hate cause racist ideas. That the root problem of racism is ignorance and hate. But that gets the chain of events exactly wrong. The root problem -- from Prince Henry to President Trump -- has always been the self-interest of racist power.”
    • Which “root problem” were you taught?
    • How does identifying the root problem affect the way you approach acting in an anti-racist way?
    • Are there anti-racist behavior/policies/etc in the library that you identify as addressing the root cause of a power imbalance? As not addressing the root cause?

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