Kendi’s National Book Award-winning study argues that racism in America has grown from deliberate policies rather than from emotional responses like fear or hatred. Starting with the Puritans, Kendi traces the development of racist ideas and their effect on racist practices through the lives of five thinkers, discussing Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Angela Davis. Within these profiles Kendi, professor of history and international studies at American University, identifies three strains of thought about race: segregation, antiracism, and assimilation; outlines their differences, and points to how each can be discredited in order to free the nation for the post-racial era it has long yearned for.
Kendi is in conversation with Wesley Lowery, a national correspondent for The Washington Post and author of They Can’t Kill Us All.