Many of the books we’ve read for the book group Centering Black, Indigenous and People of Color Voices have helped to expand my thinking about the 8th Principle. The first that comes to mind, however, is a book we read together many months ago, “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi.
The book reads like one part memoir, one part political treatise. Kendi recounts some of the times in his life when, as a Black man, he encountered racism in himself. His disclosures help me to acknowledge the racism that I know in myself, and to face with greater confidence the continuing work of dismantling “racism and other oppressions in ourselves” as the 8th Principle calls us to do.
Our proposed 8th Principle doesn’t just call us to personal reflection however, but also points us toward dismantling racisms in our institutions. Here, Kendi offers a consistent solution: understand racist policies and supplant them with anti-racist policies. At the Antiracist Research and Policy Center of American University he set forth the following goals:
- Admit racial inequity is a problem of bad policy, not bad people.
- Identify racial inequity in all its intersections and manifestations.
- Investigate and uncover the racist policies causing racial inequity.
- Invent or find antiracist policy that can eliminate racial inequity.
- Figure out who or what group has the power to institute antiracist policy.
- Disseminate and educate about the uncovered racist policy and antiracist policy correctives.
- Work with sympathetic antiracist policymakers to institute the antiracist policy.
Monitor closely to ensure the antiracist policy reduces and eliminates racial inequity. When policies fail, do not blame the people. Start over and seek out new and more effective antiracist treatments until they work.**
What Ibram X. Kendi suggests isn’t easy. It takes time, dedication, and courage to identify and change racist policies. Yet, I can see that the outline he suggests can be applied in any of the institutions that touch my life. It gives me hope that together, building from the base of the Beloved Community we can live into the 8th Principle to “dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.”