Gayle King: ‘Most People Think Black People Can’t Be Racist’

On Monday, CBS This Morning brought on left-wing American University professor Ibram Kendi to lecture viewers on the “metastatic racism” plaguing the nation, particularly in the wake of the mass shooting in El Paso. During the discussion, co-host Gayle King observed that “most people think black people can’t be racist.”

“We’re going to go to the El Paso shooting, changing topics now, to put racism and racial issues back at the center of the political debate here in America,” King announced at the top of the segment, making the motivation of the coverage clear. She touted that a new poll “finds more than half of American adults think race relations are bad and getting worse,” before introducing Kendi and promoting his new book, How to Be An Anti-Racist.

 

 

King highlighted Kendi’s role as “founding director of the Anti-Racist Research and Policy Center at American University.” The center describes its mission as being “to produce rigorous and accessible research that can support the innovation and enactment of antiracist public policies at the local, state, and national level.” Some of those policy ideas were discussed in a series of articles published by The Guardian, which called a border wall on the U.S. southern border “a monument against racial progress” and saw the 2018 governor’s race in Georgia as an example of racism and “voter suppression.”

In her first question to Kendi, King wondered: “Alright, Doctor, start with this, because you said being an anti-racist is not the same as being not racist and I was very confused....explain exactly what you mean in simple terms.”

Kendi argued there was a difference:

The simplest way to understand it is, when we think of the history of the term “not racist,” we’re really thinking about eugenicists, when being charged with being racist, saying they’re not racist, we’re thinking about Jim Crow segregationists saying they’re not racist, white nationalists and supremacists today say they’re not racist. And so, we’re really thinking about a term in which people are denying that they are racist. That’s really the only meaning – real meaning that this term has held. But anti-racist, in contrast, has a meaning, a meaning of somebody who views the racial groups as equals, someone who is pressing for policies that creates racial equity.

In a follow-up, co-host Anthony Mason pointed out: “You write that you used to be a racist most of the time, but you’re now on a mission to be anti-racist. How did you recognize this and how did you change?” King chimed in: “And most people think black people can’t be racist either, by the way.”

Perhaps King was thinking of ABC’s View co-host Joy Behar, who recently argued that “It's outrageous and stupid to call a black person a racist!”

Kendi explained his admission:  

Well, I mean, I grew up in the ’80s and the ’90s, a time in which young black males were classified – like me – were classified as super predators. A time when young black girls were thought to be hypersexual, having all these babies. We were – our communities were imagined to be severely dangerous. These were racist ideas circulating not only among white people but even among black people. And young people like me were internalizing these ideas, internalizing, thinking that the problem was, in part, black people. And I thought that for a long time....I believed it until I realized that there was nothing – the only thing wrong with black people was that we thought something was wrong with black people. And that the fundamental racial problem was racist policy.

During a 2017 appearance on PBS’s Tavis Smiley, Kendi similarly proclaimed that anyone who denied that the country was practicing systematic racial discrimination must themselves be a racist who thinks “there’s something inferior and wrong about black people.”

On Monday, Mason noted: “You call racism a cancer and that it should be treated like a cancer. And I know you don’t say this lightly because you’ve had stage-four colon cancer.” Kendi used his cancer battle as an analogy to condemn race relations in America: “I had metastatic cancer, and I would argue we have metastatic racism in this country, there’s typically a local treatment in which you go in and surgically remove the tumors, which is essentially like going in to remove the racist policies...”

Co-host Tony Dokoupil worried: “I was going to say, you have your health today. Can the country get its health when it comes to metastatic racism, as you put it?” Kendi replied: “I think so. I think if we flood the body with anti-racist policies, if we believe in the possibility that we can overcome metastatic racism, then I think we can overcome it.”

While CBS relied on Kendi to be the arbiter of defining racism and anti-racism, when he appeared on the morning show in July, the liberal pundit excused Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s pattern of anti-Semitism.

This is the supposed expert that CBS turns to when it comes to confronting prejudice.

In a story aired earlier on Monday’s broadcast, the network even allowed Kendi to host a forum about race with residents in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Here is a full transcript of the August 12 segment:

8:34 AM ET

GAYLE KING: We’re going to go to the El Paso shooting, changing topics now, to put racism and racial issues back at the center of the political debate here in America. A Pew Research poll from April finds more than half of American adults think race relations are bad and getting worse. Now Professor Ibram Kendi is on a mission to set the country on a new path toward equality. In his new book, How to Be An Anti-Racist, Kendi calls racism a cancer and explains how readers can shift their thinking to stop it. Earlier we just saw him speak with 12 community members about the issue on the second anniversary of the Charlottesville attack, they were there. Kendi is the founding director of the Anti-Racist Research and Policy Center at American University and joins us at the table. Good to have you back, Professor.

IBRAM KENDI: It’s a pleasure to be on.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Guide to Antiracism; Ibram X. Kendi Helps Readers Confront Racism In New Book]

KING: Alright, Doctor, start with this, because you said being an anti-racist is not the same as being not racist and I was very confused. I had to read that page a couple times. So explain exactly what you mean in simple terms.

KENDI: The simplest way to understand it is, when we think of the history of the term “not racist,” we’re really thinking about eugenicists, when being charged with being racist, saying they’re not racist, we’re thinking about Jim Crow segregationists saying they’re not racist, white nationalists and supremacists today say they’re not racist. And so, we’re really thinking about a term in which people are denying that they are racist. That’s really the only meaning – real meaning that this term has held. But anti-racist, in contrast, has a meaning, a meaning of somebody who views the racial groups as equals, someone who is pressing for policies that creates racial equity.

KING: And that’s the key, to look at racial equity.

KENDI: Precisely.

KING: Because I remember, when the El Paso shooting happened, I don’t know any black person in this country when they first heard it that said “Oh, lord, please don’t let him be black.” And you write about this in your book, that, “Why do we take on that mantle because?” Because that’s not something white people think when there’s a shooting.

KENDI: Because I think in many ways what ideas, what our racial discussion has done is it’s caused individuals, particularly black individuals, to carry the mantle of race.

KING: Of the whole race.

KENDI: Partly because we know when people see a lazy black person, they’re not just seeing a lazy person, they’re seeing lazy black people. They’re generalizing this individual negativity as opposed to allowing individuals to be individuals.

ANTHONY MASON: You write that you used to be a racist most of the time, but you’re now on a mission to be anti-racist. How did you recognize this and how did you change?

KING: And most people think black people can’t be racist either, by the way.

KENDI: Well, I mean, I grew up in the ’80s and the ’90s, a time in which young black males were classified – like me – were classified as super predators. A time when young black girls were thought to be hypersexual, having all these babies. We were – our communities were imagined to be severely dangerous. These were racist ideas circulating not only among white people but even among black people. And young people like me were internalizing these ideas, internalizing, thinking that the problem was, in part, black people. And I thought that for a long time.

MASON: You believed that?

KENDI: I thought it. Yeah, I believed it until I realized that there was nothing – the only thing wrong with black people was that we thought something was wrong with black people. And that the fundamental racial problem was racist policy.

TONY DOKOUPIL: One of the interesting things in the book is the idea that being a racist is not an identity, it is not a permanent condition of an individual, it’s a temporary condition based on actions. Why define it in that way?

KENDI: Because I think with my earlier work chronicling the history of racist ideas, I found that you had some people who in the same speech, even in the same paragraph of the same speech, would say things that were both racist and anti-racist. They would speak to –

KING: At the same time?

KENDI: At the same time, right? So then how would we identify that person as being a racist when they also said anti-racist things. They also spoke about racial equality. And so what’s actually happening is I define racist and even anti-racist as based on what a person is saying or doing in the moment. And we constantly change. Human beings are deeply complex, and I think that’s a more accurate way to explain this.

MASON: You call racism a cancer and that it should be treated like a cancer. And I know you don’t say this lightly because you’ve had stage-four colon cancer.

KENDI: Yeah, and I’ve had stage-four colon cancer.

KING: Your wife has had cancer.

KENDI: My wife had breast cancer. My mother had breast cancer. Even my father had cancer. And so I think through experiencing my own cancer as well as care-taking for loved ones who had cancer, I’ve been able to see how cancer is treated. And generally, particularly with metastatic cancer, and I had metastatic cancer, and I would argue we have metastatic racism in this country, there’s typically a local treatment in which you go in and surgically remove the tumors, which is essentially like going in to remove the racist policies or do –

DOKOUPIL: I was going to say, you have your health today. Can the country get its health when it comes to metastatic racism, as you put it?

KENDI: I think so. I think if we flood the body with anti-racist policies, if we believe in the possibility that we can overcome metastatic racism, then I think we can overcome it.

KING: How is your health today? You look good.

KENDI: Yeah, I’m good, I’m good. I’m trying to stay good.

KING: Alright, glad to hear that.

MASON: Ibram Kendi, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

KENDI: You’re welcome.

MASON: How to Be An Anti-Racist goes on sale tomorrow.

NB Daily Liberals & Democrats Racism CBS CBS This Morning Video Gayle King Anthony Mason Tony Dokoupil

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