Ibram X. Kendi on why the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection shocked white people

Ibram X. Kendi, author of the book How to Be an Antiracist, shares important thoughts on white supremacy in the U.S.

Ibram X. Kendi on why the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection shocked white people

In a recent Vox interview with How to be an Antiracist‘s Ibram X. Kendi, the author shares reflections on the attempted insurrection of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. If you were surprised that people were surprised by the violence committed by white supremacists in the U.S., here are some reasons why that was the case, according to Kendi:

Belief in white superiority

White people are socialized to believe that they are better than other cultures and incapable of terrorism, are saviors, etc.

Because of the racist ideas that many white Americans still hold, it becomes almost impossible for them to see white people as terrorist threats — as the primary terrorist threat — and as the people who are making their nation unsafe, the people who are attacking democracy. Racist ideas tell us that white people are nonviolent. That white people are champions of freedom. That white people are the ones who save nations. And so the way in which people have constructed whiteness, and even their identity, or even the identity of white people, prevents them from seeing this white terrorist threat for what it is.

Ibram X. Kendi


In response to the Capitol insurrection, President-elect Joe Biden’s first comment along with four former U.S. presidents reflected the trope that white violence “didn’t represent who we are” — a denial similar to other statements regarding white violence such as mass shooting, with #ThisIsNotUs trending during a deadly rally in 2017.

Denial is the heartbeat of America. At every point in history, Americans refused to look at themselves for who they truly were. Americans have tried to take these ugly sides of America outside of the American project and say these people, or this incident, or this type of politics is not who we are, as opposed to saying, yes, this is precisely who we partially are, but we want to be better, we want to be different. Instead, Americans have denied it outright, denied its existence, and then we wonder why the cancer continues to spread.

Ibram X. Kendi


Cineas, F. (2021, January 12). Ibram X. Kendi on why white America is still shocked by white supremacy. Vox. https://www.vox.com/22227102/anti-racism-ibram-kendi

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