Bestselling author keynotes race forum

Submitted photo Ibram X. Kendi

Enough race talk—time to act

For its annual “It’s Time to Talk: Forums on Race,” YWCA Minneapolis leadership could not think of a better keynote speaker than the author of “How to Be an Antiracist.”

New York Times bestselling author Ibram X. Kendi is also the author of “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” winner of the National Book Award for Fiction, and “The Black Campus Movement,” winner of the W.E.B. Du Boise Book Prize. He is the ideas columnist for “The Atlantic.” 

Kendi is also a professor and the founding director of The Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. On Oct. 2, he will bring his stirring work and thinking to the Minneapolis Convention Center and the participants of YWCA’s forum. 

Apart from his expertise and stunning resume, Kendi was chosen to keynote the YWCA’s 17th annual forum on race because his bluntly honest style will keep the forum focused on race and not another networking event with a vague theme of equity. 

“It’s not just handing each other business cards,” said Vice President of Racial Justice and Public Policy Rubén Vázquez. “The talk is deeper.”

Vázquez and the YWCA are well aware that all people of all races are at different levels of understanding and comfort with talking about race. And, after only three hours, no one is going to leave the forum an expert on race relations. 

The forum and the thought-provoking speaker Kendi together make a curated space for an opportunity to start that long-term work. The forum is broken up into different sections, each with prompts, either from YWCA staff or directly from Kendi, designed to spark deep conversations on race. 

Vázquez is an immigrant himself; he arrived from Mexico 40 years ago this year. Given the current political climate in which immigration has flared into a huge issue, Vázquez said the YWCA turned to Kendi because he “tells it how it is” and will help participants confront tough things around race. Those conversational confrontations need to happen because they are the first step in a long journey toward racial tranquility.

“For me, as a person of color, as an immigrant, I am at a point where, with other people of color, we’re just done talking about having conversations around race,” said Vázquez. “We need to have people who actually want to do something about it.”

It’s Time to Talk 2019″ will be held Wednesday, Oct. 2 from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm at the Minneapolis Convention Center located at 1301 2nd Ave. S. Tickets cost $150. For more information, go to