A video clip recently surfaced from a 2019 "Aspen Ideas Festival" at which noted Critical Race Theory scholar Ibram X. Kendi had just finished giving a talk on "How to be an antiracist" in which he noted that "It's hard to understand antiracism without understanding what it means to be racist."
And then, completely out of the blue, he's asked to define what he means by "racism"!
"You noted the importance of defining racism, but unless I missed it, which is possible, I didn't hear your personal definition. Is there one you would offer us, like how do you define racism."
These are exactly the kind of "gotcha" questions that chase true intellectuals like Kendi from the public square.
Regardless, he was prepared. Watch as he mows down the questioner with the mighty social justice of his answer.
"I would define it as a collection of racist policies, that lead to racial inequity, that are substantiated by racist ideas."
His audience appeared stunned to be in the presence of such obvious greatness which you can tell by the nervous and awkward laughter.
He could have just left it right there and walked out a hero, but no, Kendi wasn't done yet, and instead volunteered the definition of "anti-racism" as well.
"Anti-racism is a collection of anti-racist policies leading to racial equity that are substantiated by anti-racist ideas."
Some observers have correctly noted that you are typically told not to use the word you are defining in the definition. Kendi, ever the over-achiever, used it three times.
It's kind of a triple tautology, using not just circular logic, but concentric rings of circular logic each one turning on the other mesmerizing the audience into a kind of intellectual stupor which might have been the intent.
While he was not asked the obvious follow-up, "How would you use it in a sentence?" I suspect it would be something like this:
"You are a racist for asking me that question."
In any case, some commenters on Twitter noted that this novel three-dimensional-chess approach to defining words could be used for more than just racism.
In fact, Kendi might have just created a whole new way to look at the world for people who don't like to think too much. Call it, "CRV," "Critical Race Vocabulary."
Formerly difficult concepts could be defined quickly and easily without the bother of having to understand them.
Take "existentialism," for example.
"I would define it as a collection of existentialist policies, that lead to existentialism, that is substantiated by existentialist ideas."
Think of all the time you've wasted reading Kierkegaard and Sartre. Why it's almost enough to create a kind of angst which I can't adequately describe. If only there were a concept to properly capture the feeling.
How about Calvinism? Still having trouble understanding that?
"I would define it as a collection of Calvinist policies, that lead to Calvinism, that is substantiated by Calvinist ideas."
And just like that, you're a religious scholar.
There's no reason to stop there, either. We can introduce this new way of understanding the world by not understanding it as early as first grade.
"I would define it as a collection of truck policies, that lead to trucks, that are substantiated by truck ideas."
I feel the country getting smarter by the moment.