Opinion: BYU Teaching Antiracism - Racism Repackaged
Antiracism, at its core, is racism repackaged. There is a common theme on the hard left side of the aisle where definitions are not made clear. This is the point, because “how could you be against antiracism?” would be the response to this lead paragraph. The whole point of not defining basic terms is to confuse people. This is not illustrated best anywhere else than in the gender debate. For example, in a clip from Dr. Phil featuring Matt Walsh and Addison Rose Vincent, a conservative talk show host and a LGBTQ+ rights activist respectively, Walsh asked Vincent to answer the question, “What is a woman?” Vincent could not provide concrete definition in response alluding to the concept that what a woman means to everyone is different. This definition debacle also applies to race relations.
The definition you will hear when someone talks about “antiracism” is that it is just being “against racism” and taking active steps against it. Everyone, unless you are an actual neo-Nazi, is against racism. So why do so many on the right and even some on the center left disdain the term? In order to understand this, one can go to the arbiter of the term and whose book has made the term famous, Ibram X. Kendi. He defines an antiracist as: “One who is supporting an antiracist policy through their actions or expressing an antiracist idea.” This is the man the hard left holds up as the great intellectual who fights against racism. It is also required reading in some classes at BYU along with like-minded books such as White Fragility and So You Want to Talk About Race? As one who has taken an English class above fifth grade, if I turned in a test which asked me to define a word such as “tasty” and I wrote: “food that is tasty or a substance that is tasty,” I would fail the test. The word being defined was used in the definition, therefore making the definition not a definition. “Racist” and other words are defined in a similar manner throughout the book. It seems like college-grade material if you ask me.
In order to define what antiracism is, you have to read into the text. On page 18 of How to be an Antiracist, the following is written:
“Racial inequity is when two or more racial groups are not standing on approximately equal footing. Here’s an example of racial inequity: 71 percent of White families lived in owner-occupied homes in 2014, compared to 45 percent of Latinx families and 41 percent of Black families… A racist policy is any measure that produces or sustains racial inequity between racial groups. An antiracist policy is any measure that produces or sustains racial equity between racial groups… There is no such thing as a nonracist or race-neutral policy.”
From this passage in the first few pages of the book, one can infer that antiracism simply means pursuing anything that produces equality of outcome between racial groups. Note, that this is not equality under the law or of opportunity. These former measures are good to pursue and even highly desirable. However, the book is talking about equal outcomes. Home ownership is a measurable outcome and if there are unequal outcomes between racial groups (in income as another example), that means something racist has occurred. Therefore, according to Kendi’s logic, an antiracist measure has to be put into place to ensure equal outcome. The point of equal outcome is driven home on the next page which reads, “The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination” (Kendi, p.19). The assumption being that the reason why you are discriminating in an “antiracist” fashion is to achieve ends with equal outcomes such as in hiring a workforce. This does not mean racism cannot contribute to unequal outcomes, but it is not the only thing that determines them. This clearly sets the grounds for antiracism to be defined as: a policy or idea that ensures equal outcomes between racial groups, even if it means to discriminate on a racial basis. On the surface, achieving equal racial outcomes might seem like a noble cause to pursue. In reality, you will take away people's choices and will have to discriminate in a racist fashion.
In the United States, the ethnic group of people who make the most money are Indian Americans. Does this fact therefore dictate that Indian Americans are pursuing ethnocentric, racist policy in favor of Indians? I do not think anyone would argue that. Germans have a long history of making beer as a product. If a market was heavily based in beer, this might benefit Germans. That is why beer brands such as Budweiser and Busch are still very popular in America. If a German emigrated to Hawaii, historically a market based heavily on fishing, the German most likely would not be able to make much because his or her country is mostly landlocked and they have little experience with fishing. Different ethnicities and cultures have traditionally done specific things and have different value structures that will cause them to be successful in some areas and not in others depending on various factors. All of this is to make the point that policies, unless they are discriminatory or remove people’s choices, will not produce an equal outcomes among racial or any other group. Then they are also racist apparently. This does not mean racism does not exist or has anything to do with unequal outcomes but not all unequal outcomes are from racism.
When you say any policy is racist or from Robin DiAngelo in White Fragility (also part of curriculum in BYU by the way) that all white people are racist you get assignments such as one reported by a student who said, "we had to take pictures of things around campus and explain why they manifested whiteness." In fact, by the definitions shown on the assignment of "whiteness" largely taken from Robin DiAngelo's writings, one could come to the conclusion that any view a white person holds can be racist.
Not to point out the elephant in the room, but five minutes ago we all agreed that associating stereotypes and holding prejudice against anyone of any race was considered to be racist. It did not have to do with power, position, or what skin color the purveyor of racism had. It was all just considered racism. Until now, when racism means any unequal outcome of groups and every white person is a racist as an a priori assumption. That is what will be taught in the classrooms of the new BYU diversity classes. Here are some other stories that students have reported in their classroom experiences with antiracism:
So, is antiracism (racism repackaged) being taught at BYU? The resounding answer is yes. Now BYU wants to make diversity and belonging classes mandatory as GE courses. These will most positively have this material in the curriculum. If you feel as though this should be stopped please sign our petition below.
Thomas Stevenson - Feb. 11, 2022