A few weeks ago, my wife Neva surprised me with what we thought could be a great opportunity. Neva is from Southern California, and she now has some friends who work in Hollywood. She told me that one of her friends, who is now a producer, was putting out a request for any White individuals who might be interested in having a conversation with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi about his newest book, How to Be an Antiracist.
Neva knew that I had read his previous book, Stamped from the Beginning, and that I had just started reading How to Be an Antiracist. She wanted to know if I might be interested in having a conversation with Dr. Kendi. Of course I was! Neva gave my contact information to her friend and we set up a phone call for the next day.
I interviewed with the producer for roughly 20 minutes. She asked me about my own history in coming to terms with racism in our culture. I was also asked to elaborate on what drew me to Dr. Kendi’s work and how it has impacted me. When she learned that I was an “evangelical” pastor, we discussed some of the challenges of being a community leader in an environment where not everyone approaches issues of race and racism in the same way.
When the call was over, I was still under the impression that this was an interview for a conversation with Dr. Kendi alone. I assumed it would be the kind of Zoom conversation that might be broadcast over social media with several other individuals asking him questions. Later that night, I received an email with the following opening sentence:
We’d love it if you would join us for our How to Be An Antiracist conversation with Oprah and Dr. Ibram X. Kendi on Friday!