Dr. Keith Anderson has lived in Idaho since he was a young man. He played football at Boise State University, received a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Idaho and has worked in education all over the state. His book “From Racist to Non-Racist to Anti-Racist: Becoming Part of the Solution” was written to be a helping aid in trying to move people away from racism in all its different forms.
“I used my own skills in education and I saw that I got some results, so I wanted to share the things I learned to do,” said Anderson. “I’m in a state where only 1% of the population is Black folk, how would I not share what I’ve learned. We make this too complicated; the situation is complicated but dealing with it only involves the truth.”
People can find Anderson’s book on his website, theantiracismcenter.net, on the Boise State website, boisestate.pressbooks.pub and on Amazon. Anderson finished the book in 2019 but due to rewrites and a bit of reorganizing, it has just been released. The book is educational and features personal stories about Anderson’s life. The combination creates an easy read that’s also helpful and informative. His website includes multiple resources for people to learn more or to even help them create their own seminars to teach others.
Anderson said the important thing is getting the truth out so people can make more informed decisions about their own ideology. “Opinions are often based on lies,” he said. “It’s always frustrated me … I’m here in this community so I wrote what I know.”
He posits there are parts and pieces to racism and if people work to take one away, the system won’t work. In his book he puts forth something he calls the “Anderson Hypothesis of Explaining Racism:”
”When a nation’s more economically, politically powerful and entitled race or culture assigns and attaches internal superiority, un-true history, while deleting the use of sound reasoning based on scientific knowledge, historical fact and meaningful communication; to the politically and economically powerless people within its society, racism will occur and remain constant.”
Basically, he said, it’s like a fire. It needs things to breath and grow — heat, oxygen and fuel. Take one away and the fire dies down. Anderson said to stop racism, our society must rid racist people of the elements that allow racism to burn through the country.
“The bottom line is racism never gets fixed because people do not understand that racism was perpetuated on purpose, therefore it must be un-done on purpose,” Anderson says in his book. “Racism isn’t going to go away because of a moving speech. It will take love, desire, money and white people willing to take a backseat (until they acquire real knowledge) to people of color, in regards to moving people from racist, to non-racist to anti-racist.”
Anderson wrote the book, not to be a history lesson; he said there are far better books out there to teach people. Instead, he wrote it for people who want to be “change agents” in the area of racial justice. For whom he called, “true patriots, who want the best for America.”
Anderson outlines several different examples of racism, some of the systemic issues that guide its practices, and then explains how becoming anti-racist involves a constant work towards that ideal. The book states:
“Anti-racist people take actions to change a negative racist situation, in order to stop the racist situation.”
He said a big misconception is that racism is all about hate; it’s more about control and keeping people mired in misinformation. “It’s hard to see people not thinking,” he said, “and that allows them to be tricked.”
Some of the points Anderson brings up in his book are based on statistics. For instance, in talking about a link between policing and racism and how people often say that police work is one of the top most dangerous jobs in America — that is a misconception, Anderson said. In a 2019 CNBC list of ”The 10 Most Dangerous Jobs in America, working in law enforcement did not even make the list.
He also brings in his own experiences with racism living in Idaho. He gives examples of being ignored by a store clerk rudely as they attended to a white women patron. He addressed how those interactions made him feel and then outlined what the white customer could have done to actively change the situation. Something as easy as telling the clerk he was there first and waiting for her turn. It may seem like a small thing to do but Anderson said it’s the action that’s important. In essence, that’s what his book is about, giving people examples of how they can be better to one another through empathetic understanding and truthful information.
Anderson has taught numerous ant-racism workshops and he said he can sometimes see a light bulb go on in people, and for him, that makes all the hard work worthwhile.
“Some people get it and some don’t,” said Anderson.” but I teach and move on. For an example, I’ve spent a lot of time in rural Idaho and I’ve yet to see a farmer plant a seed and sit there and watch it grow. I plant a seed and move on. I think your attitude and mentality determines your success in the fight on racism and I stay here in Idaho because I can’t leave. I have to be here to help make change. I can help.”
The most recent demographics from Idaho in 2021, show that the population of Black people living in the state is only 0.69%. Anderson said he came here at the age of 20 to play football at Boise State and that he became a man here. He said one of the biggest things he learned early on, is that in a state where there’s few Black people, he couldn’t hide.
“I may not see another Black person for weeks at a time, unless we make appointments,” said Anderson. “I had to learn to deal with feeling alone and how to navigate my experience. I wanted to share that with Black people here and with white people so they can really see what’s happening.”
Anderson said what he’s learned is that you have to do things on purpose and people can’t say, “it’s not me, I’m not racist;” instead they must work to realize there’s a wrong and that they can help make it right.
“I want people to understand what’s going on, maybe even right under their noses,” he said,” and then they can make a choice to either be a part of the solution or to ignore it, but people have to learn the truth.”
For Anderson that’s all a part of becoming part of the solution, putting himself out there and teaching people, while hoping that they listen and work towards a more inclusive Idaho and America.
The book ends with a heartfelt and poignant point. “Maybe one day, we’ll begin to understand that there is only one race — the human race. We are all people. We all live, and we all die. No one group is so superior that they live forever. Give yourself the gift of love. Then, share your love with everyone you can.”