Netflix has announced three new projects with antiracist indoctrinator Ibram X. Kendi, intended for a variety of age groups. “Stamped From the Beginning” will be a cross between a documentary and a scripted feature film, while “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You” will be similarly produced but for teens and young adult readers.
“Antiracist Baby,” currently a board book, will be reimagined as animated shorts for the pre-school set. Doc McStuffins creator Chris Nee has been tapped to executive produce the series.
One of Kendi’s core teachings is that it’s not enough to be not racist, but a person must be actively antiracist. While this seems like a small distinction, it is not.
The difference between “not racist” and “antiracist” is that the latter adds activism, while the former is simply a state of existing without putting concerns about race and racism first. Now that Netflix has taken up Kendi’s cause, it can use its considerable platform to turn children into antiracists, who think about race, racial differences, and their role in racism first and foremost.
Roger Ross Williams, who will be directing both films, said that “Stamped From the Beginning” and “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You” are “powerful and essential pieces of literature that clearly outline how deeply rooted racist ideas are in the United States.”
In a statement, Kendi said, “I’m elated for the viewers, for the adults and children who will be captivated, informed and transformed by these projects.” Transformation is exactly what Kendi is looking for. He has written extensively about antiracism and the need for this to be a driving factor in social discourse. Indeed, as exemplified with his “Antiracist Baby,” bringing his message to kids was already part of his mission.
Released in June, and intended for toddlers, “Antiracist Baby” addresses Kendi’s overarching premise:
The heartbeat of racism itself has always been denial, and the sound of that heartbeat has always been ‘I’m not racist.’ And so what I am trying to do with my work is to really get Americans to eliminate the concept of ‘not racist’ from their vocabulary and realize, we’re either being racist or antiracist.
In short, Kendi is creating a binary of racists on one side and antiracists on the other. To Kendi, and if you’re not making your life’s work the mission of fighting racism in the most egalitarian, equal-minded, fair, and stable democracy in the world, you have hate in your heart.
Kendi has held these views for a long time. Back in 2003, when Kendi (nee Rogers) wrote for the student newspaper at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, he wrote “I don’t hate whites. How can you hate a group of people for being who they are?” He went on to say that “Europeans” were “socialized to be aggressive people,” and “raised to be racist.”
Speaking to Yale University students in December 2020, Kendi said, “the term ‘racist’ should instead be understood as a descriptor. It literally describes what a person is being in any given moment, based on what they are saying or not saying, doing or not doing.”
Kendi expands, “in order to be anti-racist, we have to express ideas of racial equality. We have to support policies that are leading to racial equity. We have to challenge ideas that there’s something wrong with Latinx people, we have to challenge policies that are dispossessing Native land.”
Kendi doesn’t believe that racism stems from ignorance or hate. If that’s the case, he says, it would stand to reason that once people are better educated, racist policies would end. But what if the perpetrators of racist policies already know what you are trying to teach them? What if they are instituting those alleged voter suppression policies out of self-interest?
To be sure, Kendi believes education is essential to progress. Still, he adds quite a bit more:
How do we make education transformative? How do we create an education that would allow people to see that indeed the problem is not ‘those people,’ [that] the problem is power and policy? Then, how do we educate those people to challenge and disrupt power and policy? All of that is critical.
The answer is to get kids indoctrinated into Kendi’s mindset early and often:
We should be outcome-centered and victim-centered … If a policy is leading to racial injustice, it doesn’t really matter if the policymaker intended for that policy to lead to racial injustice. If an idea is suggesting that white people are superior, it doesn’t really matter if the expressor of that idea intended for that idea to connote white superiority.
It is through the desire for outcome-based solutions that Netlifx and Kendi arrive at the solution of racial indoctrination for toddlers and teens. By catching kids early, and with catchy tunes, kids won’t know the difference between racist, antiracist, and non-racist, they won’t know that there are other ways of interacting with human beings and society where race isn’t the primary factor.
Instead, with Kendi’s “help,” kids will believe that race is the main thing to consider in interpersonal relationships and social structure. They will come away with the idea that if racism can be fixed, the United States will be a veritable utopia.
Someone should tell them, perhaps, that the closer we got to achieving the goals of a non-racist society, the further away activists — and those who rely on the perpetuation of racism to earn their living — told us we were from it.