Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You is one in a stack of books I’m reading as part of my overdue reeducation on racism. I’ve reviewed more than 500 business books for The Hamilton Spectator since 1999 and worked in public relations for 27 years.
Each of us has a choice to make.
We can choose to be a segregationist.
Or an antiracist.
“Segregationists are haters,” says Jason Reynolds. “Like, real haters. People who hate you for not being like them.”
“Assimilationists are people who like you, but only with quotation marks. Meaning, they ‘like’ you because you’re like them.
Antiracists “love you because you’re like you.”
In his remix of Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning, Jason in his remix shows how these three identities have been adopted over and over again for hundreds of years.
“The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, whether financially or politically. How it has always been used to create dynamics that separate us to keep us quiet. To keep the ball of white and rich privilege rolling. And that it’s not woven into people as much as it’s woven into policy that people adhere to and believe is truth.”
According to Jason, the world’s first racist was Gomes Eanes de Zurara. In 1415, Zurara wrote a book that defended African slave trading. Enslaving people was defended as missionary work. It was a way to save, civilize and Christianize African “savages”.
And so began anti-Black racist ideas that continue to this day, even after scientific evidence proved on June 26, 2000 that the concept of race has no genetic or scientific basis.
“This is how racism works. All it takes is the right kind of media to spark it. To spin it. At least, that’s why history has shown us. Tell a story a certain way. Make a movie that paints you as the hero. Get enough people on your side ot tell you you’re right and you’re right. Even if you’re wrong. And once you’ve been told you’re right long enough, and once your being right has led you to a profitable and privileged life, you’d do anything to not be proven wrong. Even pretend human beings aren’t human beings.”
History tells us we should expect a backlash to Black Lives Matter and the current moment we’re in. “Whenever people rise up against bad things, bad things tend to get worse,” says Jason. “You know the old saying, ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get racist.”
We need to meet that racism head on by getting active. Posting summaries of antiracism books on blogs and social media won’t cut it.
“Scrolling will never be enough,” says Jason.
“Reposting will never be enough.
“Hashtagging will never be enough.
“Because hatred has a way of convincing us that half love is whole. What I mean by that is we – all of us – have to fight against performance and lean into participation. We have to be participants. Active.
“We have to be more than audience members sitting comfortably in the stands of morality, shouting “WRONG!”. That’s too easy. Instead, we must be players on the field, on the court, in our classrooms and communities, trying to do right.
“Because it takes a whole hand – both hands – to grab hold of hatred. Not just a texting thumb and a scrolling index finger.”