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Dr. Ibram X. Kendi is America’s leading scholar on anti-racism and the author of the best-selling non-fiction book How to Be An Antiracist.

On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Kendi had an important conversation with Colbert about the role of anti-racism in affecting real change in cultures with deep-rooted systemic racism. 

Kendi began by explaining the fundamental difference between identifying as not racist and anti-racist. “Historically whenever people are challenged for saying and doing something that’s racist, typically their response is, ‘I’m not racist,’ no matter what they just said, no matter what they just did,” explained Kendi. 

“By contrast, someone who is striving to be anti-racist is actually willing to admit the times in which they expressed racist ideas, the times in which they supported racist policies because they’re in a process of changing,” he added. “They’re changing themselves, they’re seeking to change society, they’re not necessarily in denial like many Americans who claim they’re not racist.” 

As Colbert pointed out, anti-racism gives hope that change can be achieved within society. 

“Humans have the capacity to change. I think we have to allow for that,” said Kendi. 

“The question is always, and I think with anything, when someone diagnoses us, when someone explains that we have some sort of problem, the question for all of us is: are we gonna deny that problem?” asked Kendi. “Or are we going to admit it and then begin the process of changing ourselves, healing ourselves, so that we can change and heal this country?” 

If you’re interested in learning more about anti-racism, read Mashable’s article on six ways to be anti-racist, and our article on resources for raising an anti-racist child

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