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In rejection of racism and Ibram X. Kendi's "antiracism"
Dr. Ibram X. Kendi is the author of How To Be An Antiracist, a book that jumped to the top of everybody's to-read list and the bestseller lists in the wake of the murder of George Floyd earlier this year. Part of his argument is that there is no such thing as being "not racist," but merely being racist or antiracist as he defines it.
It's factually incorrect to say that there are words in the dictionary without definitions, as that is the entire function of a dictionary. It may be that there are words in the dictionary with objectively incorrect definitions, or with definitions with which we disagree, but there are no words in the dictionary without definitions. I make this pedantic point because it's important to note where Dr. Kendi is being slippery with language in an attempt to bolster his point. To say that these words he dislikes people using "have no definition" sounds like a stronger argument than they "have a definition with which I disagree," which would be an honest admission from Kendi.
The definition of "racist" from Dictionary.com:
a person who believes in racism, the doctrine that one's own racial group is superior or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.
a belief that race is a fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.
I can also find the definition for the word "not" in the dictionary.
(used to express negation, denial, refusal, or prohibition)
used as a function word to make negative a group of words or a word.
So putting the two words together to form the term "not racist" would mean that you are negating the idea that you or someone you are describing believe "that race is a fundamental determinant of human traits... etc..." or that you or someone you are describing believes "that one's own racial group is superior... etc..." In other words, using the dictionary, the term "not racist" is very easily defined by defining its constituent words.
As for the term "having no meaning other than denying when one is being racist," that's a fallacious argument. From Wikipedia:
In classical rhetoric and logic, begging the question is an informal fallacy that occurs when an argument's premises assume the truth of the conclusion, instead of supporting it. It is a type of circular reasoning: an argument that requires that the desired conclusion be true.
There is a world of difference between "denying when one is being racist" and "denying that one is racist." "Not racist" is, by the objective definitions given above, a term that clearly means the latter, but Kendi automatically assumes the former to make his argument. This is another example of Kendi being slippery with language to make an argument that sounds better for his overall point despite being factually incorrect.
A person can, of course, be lying or mistaken in claiming that they are "not racist" in general or in reference to a specific action, but to claim that the term means something other than the plain definition, which Kendi denies exists, is clearly dishonest.
Kendi, however, foresees that someone will quote the dictionary definitions of these words in response to his claims:
It's hard to discern exactly what his argument is here, but I'll try to be as fair as I can. In an earlier tweet he said that the term "not racist" "has no meaning," and that "We should not have words in the dictionary that don't have definitions." Now he seems to be claiming that "they" put words in dictionaries with fake or unacceptable definitions to justify the use of the term "not racist."
The basic definitions for the words "not" and "racist" are pretty uncontroversial, in my opinion, however, so it's unclear to me exactly what Kendi could object to in those dictionary definitions. I won't try to speculate what his problem with those definitions might be. He obviously accepts that the word "racist" has a definition as seen in the next tweet:
So if racism can be defined in Kendi's own words as "ideas connoting racial hierarchy," which I don't object to, and we take the basic dictionary definiton of the word "not," then we could logically say that the term "not racist" can be described as the rejection of ideas connoting racial hierarchy and that seems like a highly defensible position to take.
I can only speculate what Dr. Kendi's reply to that might be, and it probably wouldn't be fair to him for me to do so. It seems to me, however, that "antiracism" is nothing more or less than Kendi's own particular brand, and that this is simply marketing on his part to get everyone to literally buy into his paradigm. The weakness of the arguments that he's made so far, and his unwillingness to substantively engage his critics, in general, tells me he's trying to sell books, courses, seminars, and consultations to rubes susceptible to this type of messaging by their need to be able to signal that they have done everything they possibly can to rid themselves of whatever racist impulses they might have.
There's not necessarily anything wrong with that, but we should realize that Kendi is more Don Draper than he is Martin Luther King, Jr.
On a more substantive note: Life and time are finite resources, and nobody can actively fight every injustice in the world. To not do some objective sense of "enough" to fight any particular injustice does not make one responsible for or party to that injustice.
Just as we specialize in our employment we can specialize in where we might do the most good in the world. I personally take an interest in ending unnecessary wars being waged by the U.S. government; I believe that's where I can do the most good, but that doesn't preclude my taking an interest in other important issues. It's just that I can do the most good, in my opinion, in advocating for peace. Perhaps that means that I am not enough of an "antiracist" for Dr. Kendi, and perhaps he'll paint me as a racist for exposing his grift, but I absolutely reject any ideas connoting racial hierarchy and, in fact, reject any collectivist ideology that rejects the individuality of every human being. I am, therefore, not a racist, however Dr. Kendi might feel about my phrasing.