As antiracists at Cornell, we can be proud that we got rid of Columbus Day, Lincoln’s Birthday, and Washington’s Birthday as university holidays. However, so far only holidays honoring dead white men have been eliminated. This is not enough. We have to take an antiracist approach and eliminate federal holidays that honor people who have uttered racist statements such as:
Yes, we must eliminate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
MARTIN: So the book is called “How To Be An Antiracist.” Can you – first off, just, can you define that?
KENDI: Sure. So I define an antiracist – and I should say that the book, as you know, is sort of anchored on all of these definitions because I think it’s critical for us to define terms in order to have productive conversations about race. But I define an antiracist as someone who is expressing an antiracist idea or supporting or an antiracist policy, policies that yield racial equity, while antiracist ideas talk about the equality of racial groups. And I’m very deliberate in arguing that we should be striving to be antiracist as opposed to self-identifying as not racist. And the reason…
MARTIN: Explain the difference. Yeah. What’s being not racist?
KENDI: What we should remember – and I don’t think many Americans realize this – is that eugenicists, when they were called racist in the 1930s and 1940s, their response was, I’m not racist. When Jim Crow segregationists in the ’50s and the ’60s were called racist, their response was, I’m not racist. Today, when white nationalists and white supremacists are charged with being racist, their response is, I’m not racist.
It has long been this sort of term of denial in which people refuse to recognize the way in which they’re actually being racist. And so I don’t think people realize when they say that, they’re connecting, very deliberately, with white nationalists and Jim Crow segregationists and eugenicists.
Clearly, we do not want anyone to think that we are not racists and associate us with Jim Crow segregationists and eugenicists! At an antiracist university such as Cornell, not being a racist is as bad as being a racist! Yes, we must be antiracists and celebrate Ibram X. Kendi Day instead of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
This year, on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, the entire staff of the Babbling Bear will be celebrating Ibram X. Kendi Day. However, after this year, we are not sure which date to celebrate it. Certainly not on the date that Michael King Jr. was born. We also do not suggest celebrating it on August 13, the date Ibram Henry Rogers was born. We propose that we celebrate it on the Monday closest to the date when Ibram Henry Rogers changed his name to Ibram X. Kendi.