On November 23, 2012, a young man named Jordan Davis was murdered at a gas station over the volume and type of music booming from the SUV he was riding in with some friends. He was 17 years old, unarmed, and African American.
I was living abroad in Jerusalem, Israel, at the time, and I’d recently—five months prior to be exact—given birth to my first child: a little Black boy who was given a name that means “beam of light.” And he was light to me. So, to hear of this older Black boy, the precise type of boy my boy would likely become, losing his life over something that seemed so trivial? The story crawled down into my blood and pulsed through me with every heartbeat.
I wanted to know: Why?
Why would this grown man pull out a gun and fire it into a car filled with teenagers? What about them could’ve been so menacing? Was it their literal Black bodies? The clothes they wore and the style in which they wore them? Had they spoken to him using words he didn’t like? Was it the music itself?
I looked at my kid, and then I looked at the world. And it hit me—hard—how much of a disadvantage my sweet baby boy would be at just because he was born in his particular body. And I got angry, yes . . . but more important, I heard that pivotal question again: WHY?
My presumption is that if you’re reading this introduction, you plan to utilize this book. Because you’ve begun to explore not only the Why?
but also the How? When?
of racism, and now you’re trying to figure out What?
to do. (And I will say, if you haven’t read the book this workbook is based on—How to Be a (Young) Antiracist
by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi and yours truly, Nic Stone—it wouldn’t be a bad idea to go through that first and foremost.)
In which case: I salute you. You have made the conscious decision to embark on what is likely to be an uncomfortable journey. No matter what
your background is, it takes courage to care. Especially for those who are different from you.
I also want to express my gratitude: This fight against racism isn’t easy, and as a person who would greatly benefit from some large-scale changes to various types of policy, I can’t thank you enough for your willingness to actively participate even when it comes to the thoughts and ideas you share with others who are not necessarily engaged in antiracist work.
Long story short, if you are engaging with this workbook because you have chosen (or even are considering
) a life of antiracism, you are a treasure. And I truly believe that, with your hands on deck, we can make a better world.
Hopefully one where boys like mine (there are two of them now) are free and able to play their music loud with abandon. —Nic Stone
Copyright © 2023 by Ibram X. Kendi and Nic Stone. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.