Chapters 12–14 Summary
Chapter 12: Class
Kendi begins this chapter’s discussion on the intersection of race, class, poverty, and capitalism by defining class racist—“one who is racializing the classes, supporting policies of racial capitalism against those race-classes, and justifying them by racist ideas about those race-classes”—and antiracist anticapitalist—“one who is opposing racial capitalism.”
After graduating from FAMU, Kendi moved to Philadelphia to attend Temple University. Upon his arrival, he was warned by well-intentioned neighbors that his new neighborhood was the “ghetto.” The newly-minted graduate student was unbothered by these warnings. Instead, he felt exhilarated by what he considered Black authenticity. As he remembers,
I considered poor Blacks to be the truest and most authentic representatives of Black people. I made urban poverty an entryway into the supposedly crime-riddled and impoverished house of authentic Blackness.
In the present day, Kendi recognizes the inherent racism underlying this perception. The term “ghetto” itself, he notes, has come to obscure the racist policy underlying the concentration of poor Blacks in one area. Instead, the term criminalizes those who live there by encapsulating so-called “unrespectable Black behavior.”
Citing examples of mass incarceration, wide statistical wealth gaps, and cyclical poverty, Kendi positions capitalism as one of the driving forces behind racist policy and racial inequity in modern society, and he argues that support of capitalism is equivalent to support of racism:
The conjoined twins are two sides of the same destructive body.
Taking care to illustrate the extent to which capitalism and racism are intertwined without conflating one for the other, Kendi cautions the reader that anticapitalism is not automatically antiracist. The only way to dismantle class racism is to embrace and support both anticapitalism and antiracism simultaneously.
Chapter 13: Space
To preface his discussion on the racial dynamics of physical space, Kendi defines two terms. Space racism, as he defines it, is
a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to resource inequity between racialized spaces or the elimination of certain racialized spaces, which are substantiated by racist ideas about racialized spaces.
Space antiracism, conversely, is
a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity between integrated and protected racialized spaces, which are substantiated by antiracist ideas about racialized spaces.
Recalling his time at Temple University, Kendi remembers the feeling of occupying a demonstrably Black space—the African American studies department—within the broader white space of the university. It was, he writes, clearly defined in a way that the university’s many white spaces were not—a benefit of perceived “neutrality” that, by nature of racism, typically extends only to the white community. In the case of Temple University, this spatial delineation was especially necessary. The university itself is a predominantly white space occupying two imposing buildings in majority-Black North Philadelphia. To protect the Black space nested within it was to preserve the very nature of the university’s environment.
Kendi contextualizes his own space-making experience with an inquiry into two kinds of historic separation of educational spaces: those instituted by racist white segregationists, and those organically created by voluntary gathering of Black people away from white spaces. The distinction between them is crucial to understanding space racism; while white segregationist policies are designed to place limitations on Black people by sequestering them away,...
(The entire section is 823 words.)