Ibram X. Kendi, author of “How to Be an Antiracist,” will participate in a virtual conversation with the Chico community next month as part of the 2020–21 Book in Common’s schedule of events.

The conversation with Kendi will take place on April 21 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and will be moderated by Kim Jaxon, professor in California State University, Chico’s Department of English, and Bre Holbert, Associated Students President and Agricultural Science and Education major. The virtual Zoom conversation is free to attend and those interested in attending can register.

The conversation will cover the central themes of the book, including definitions and examples of antiracism and racism, and discuss how to move from reflection to meaningful action on issues of racial equity. Participants can ask questions for Kendi in advance via a Google form.

In his book, Kendi’s concept of antiracism reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America—but even more fundamentally, points the reader toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. Kendi asks the reader to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can all play an active role in building it.

“Selecting Kendi’s book shows that the University’s strategic priority of equity, diversity and inclusion is not just a slogan but something we actively build through courageous conversations,” said Laura Nice, lecturer in the University’s Department of Comparative Religion and Humanities and member of the Book in Common Selection Committee. “We know there are capable campus and community partners to help enable these conversations.”

The Book in Common is a shared, community read, designed to promote discussion and understanding of important issues facing the broader community. “How to Be an Antiracist” was adopted as the Book in Common by CSU, Chico, the City of Chico, the Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria and Butte College. Next month’s conversation with Kendi caps off a year of events and programming on this year’s Book in Common.

Additional resources related to the Book in Common, including last fall’s featured presentation by Nandi Sojourner Crosby, “Walking the Talk: Anti-Racist Work in Our Everyday Lives,” can be found on the Book in Common website. Also, free of cost, CSU, Chico and Butte College students, faculty and staff meet on Zoom to discuss specific chapters from “How to Be an Antiracist.”

An image of the book "How to Be a Antiracist" by Ibram X. Kendi
With chapter titles like Chapter titles like “Biology,” “Class,” “Space,” “Gender” and “Success,” Kendi’s book offers a glimpse into the scope of analysis, and provides accessible routes into the conversation on antiracism from a range of disciplines.

Kendi has evolved into one of America’s foremost historians, leading antiracist scholars and is a National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of seven books. He is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and the Founding Director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. Kendi is a contributing writer at The Atlantic and a CBS News Racial Justice Contributor. He is also the 2020–21 Frances B. Cashin Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

In 2020, TIME Magazine named Kendi one of the 100 most influential people in the world. And his most recent book is “Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619­–2019,” co-edited with Keisha N. Blain, which engages 80 different contributors to tell the history of the 400 years since the first African slave ship, the White Lion, arrived in the colony of Virginia.

“Ibram Kendi’s work, through both his books and the Antiracist Research and Policy Center, is vital in today’s sociopolitical climate,” said antiracist leader Ijeoma Oluo. “As a society, we need to start treating antiracism as action, not emotion—and Kendi is helping us to do that.”

Kendi’s virtual conversation is made possible through partnerships with the Book to Action initiative from California Center for the Book and California Library Association; OC Public Libraries; Butte College’s Diversity Committee; and the Office of the President and the Division of Academic Affairs at CSU, Chico.

Book to Action 2021 initiatives tackle important issues in the community and encourage reading, community discussion, and action. The Big 3 themes that libraries and communities are focused on in 2021 are Equity, Sustainability, and Health.

California Center for the Book is a program of the California Library Association, supported in whole or in part by the US Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.