It’s a bad idea to redefine the word to refer to anything that doesn’t reduce racial disparities.
I like how this piece separates the problem of should racism be redefined at all from the more substantive problems caused by the the specific definition Kendi has chosen. I think that's an important distinction and we're better off focusing on that rather than focusing on the fact that Kendi deliberately chose a word that is highly prejudicial (though I myself find it difficult to do so; it galls me that Kendi is -- deliberately, in my opinion -- using the power of the word racism to coerce others into supporting racial egalitarianism through shame and ostracism).
I like the emphasis on inequalities rather than on this undefinable 'micro-aggressions' which seem to be able to include anything at all according to the victim. At least we can name and work with inequalities.
I also am excited that there is a real chance to really make some needed changes by looking at issues such as clean water, clean air, climate change and how they disproportionately affect communities of color.
Is is fashionable right now to blame the schools and the teachers when the real issues surrounding academic disparities cannot be addressed when we ignore that children of color are disproportionately drinking tap water with lead, eating foods that have damaging chemicals and immigrating from areas where climate change has led to malnutrition and other health issues.
It is antiracist to care about the causes of continued racial inequities.
The one disagreement I have here is that I do take issue with re-defining the word "racism".
For one thing, our public discourse seems to be surprisingly bad at recognizing when the substance of an argument is being completely lost amid a pointless argument over the definition of a word or term (for a prime example, see the recent talking-past-each-other controversy over the teaching of "Critical Race Theory" in schools). The less re-defining of terms we do, the better.
But moreover, there are certain words and terms whose re-defining is far from an arbitrary convenience. Terms that have taken on a weight of their own that can persist even after being detached from their original meaning. Terms like "white supremacy", which for decades was understood to denote the explicit belief in the racial superiority of white people - not the cultural dominance that would naturally arise in a majority white country (to the extent one associates culture with race).
People like John McWhorter are right to note that calling someone a "racist" has for some time been just shy of calling them a pedophile in terms of cultural stigma. Diluting the definition threatens to remove that stigma, but in the meantime the stigma will be temporarily extended to the relatively benign. Which is, obviously, the intent of people like Kendi. It's a cynical ploy, and worth confronting in its own right.
Leaving the philosophical objections to extreme Egalitarianism aside, it is extremely hard to achieve, and no society has achieved it even approximately; the countries which tried the hardest (or claimed to) were the most inegalitarian, like the Communist societies. The following is an interesting discussion about it
Read and enjoy! Today's NYT is far too woke to publish something like this.
Another problem is that even types of anti-racism often ends up being a form of racism via left-wing collectivist identity politics
In practice, one of the problems is regarding public welfare. For example, in Sweden, the current high-tax welfare state with more than 100 benefits is mostly beneficial for the middle-class. Increasing it by higher taxes and more government intervention could increase economic equality on paper. Still, in reality, it is impossible to maximize freedom and (economic) equality in the current tax-based market and political system because that would mean a reduction of both economic, social, and personal freedom. Maybe it will be possible to maximize freedom and equality in the future if there is a new social, political and economic system based on cryptocurrencies and communities, but humanity is not there.
I haven't read any of Kendi's published writing, but I assume that he, like many others, sees racial disparity in such metrics as mean income, mean net worth, and per-capita incarceration as objective proof of the hypothesis (or dogma) that white Americans and American institutions are, respectively, inherently and "systemically" racist. This is a non sequitur, as it ignores the possibility that the noted disparities could result from other causes than racial discrimination (systemic or otherwise).
There is also obviously racial disparity in NBA contracts per capita. Is that prima facie evidence of anti-white racial discrimination by NBA scouts, coaches, and/or franchise owners?
The underlying presupposition that the mean or averaged outcomes of various racial and ethnic sub-populations would be exactly the same in the absence of racial/ethnic discrimination is too implausible to be taken for granted.