Campus

Ibram X. Kendi: ‘Why Does Racial Inequality Exist?’ is a Racist Question

Ibram X. Kendi
Ibram X. Kendi / Getty Images

A Boston University professor said the question "why does racial inequality exist?" is itself racist.

Ibram X. Kendi, who holds a prestigious humanities professorship once held by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, made the remarks Tuesday at a Harvard seminar on "anti-racist research."

Kendi said that studying the impact of minority behavior on racial disparities is regressive, akin to "wondering if the world is round in 2020." Instead, "anti-racist researchers" should ask "how we can eliminate racial inequity and injustice."

The professor also linked anti-racism to anti-capitalism, implying that anti-racist scholarship would be intrinsically anti-capitalist.

Kendi's concept of anti-racism has become commonplace in K-12 education. Maryland's Montgomery County Public School district recently requested a "systemwide anti-racist audit" to determine if it were doing enough to help students "resist systems of oppression," while the application for the elite Brearley School asks parents to outline their commitment to anti-racism.

During the seminar, a handful of students asked Kendi what his advice would be for a Biden-Harris administration. Kendi responded that it should defund all police and prisons and create an official government agency to administer reparations.

Harvard called the conversation with Kendi a "brilliant virtual lecture" and said a full recorded version will be available next week.