How To Talk About Racism

Linguist John McWhorter on the ways social justice activists have betrayed black Americans.


In his bestselling new book, Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America (Portfolio), New York Times columnist and Columbia University linguist John McWhorter argues that the ideas of Robin DiAngelo, Ibram X. Kendi, and the Times' 1619 Project sharpen racial divides while drawing attention away from actual obstacles to improving quality of life for black Americans.

McWhorter first explored his idea of anti-racism as "Our Flawed New Religion" in a 2015 piece for The Daily Beast and continued the theme in a series of articles for Reason in 2020. "I think something is really distracting people in my world lately into supposing that they're supposed to fall for a kind of purposeless extremism in order to be good people," McWhorter says.

Contrary to critics' vituperative claims, Woke Racism is in no way a right-wing book; McWhorter notes that he's never voted Republican in his life. "I consider my company to be left-leaning people who read The New York Times and The Atlantic," he says. "If it were 1960, everybody would think of me as a normal liberal. I would be this Adlai Stevenson–voting, pointy-headed liberal person." Since the late '60s, though, the idea has taken hold that "on race, radicalism is default." Though this attitude has ebbed and flowed over time, McWhorter argues that today's anti-racist crusaders evince a quasi-religious fanaticism that ends up hurting, not helping, the plights of black Americans.

In November, McWhorter spoke with Reason's Nick Gillespie about what white people get out of cooperating with this ideological agenda, what black people gain by "performing" victimhood, and what needs to change so that all Americans can get on with creating a more perfect union.

Reason: What's the elevator pitch for Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America?

McWhorter: There is a group of people who are committed to what they call social justice, certain enough of their moral purity that they are willing to hurt other people if they don't agree with their principles. Their notion is that they are saving people who are living under the power of white hegemony. Not only are these people mean and unpleasant to deal with, but in the name of social justice for black people, they often either don't care about black people for real, or they're hurting black people. I wrote Woke Racism not as some boring statement from the right wing about family values and people pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. This is a book saying there are black people who need help. The people who are calling themselves black people's saviors don't understand this. What they're caught up in is more about virtue signaling to one another than helping people who actually need help.

We're talking about woke activism—authors like Robin DiAngelo, Ibram Kendi, Ta-Nehisi Coates. Why is it important that you call it a religion?

I call it a religion partly because of formal similarities between it and especially devout Christianity, starting with white privilege as original sin. Not only are those parallels important, but I have a heuristic reason for it. Some people were expecting Woke Racism to be an examination of the nature of religion and wokeness and what the parallels are. Nobody would have read that book. They shouldn't have; it's not that important.

I consider it useful to think of this as a religion so that people can understand that we can't have productive exchanges with the particular kind of person I'm writing about. Many people think, "Well, if we could only get them to understand that we need a plurality of ideas." Or people ask me, "How can I get that kind of person to not call me a racist?" You can't. That's what they do.

You're unlikely to try to convince somebody that Jesus does not love them; you're unlikely to try to talk someone out of their religious faith. Framing it as a religion gets across that idea better than just calling it an ideology.

You critique terms such as systemic racism. Are we past the age of systemic racism?

Racism in the present tense is much harder to identify than racism in the past. I don't like that term, not because of the systemic, but because of the racism. I think it's a real stretch of our cognition to go from racism being an attitude to racism referring to inequities within a system that are racial. You end up talking about inequities that have a very different nature, and you refer to them all with the term racism, which implies that there's this one particular issue. We can't help thinking that it's partly this emotion, this bias, when really the problems are often due to all sorts of things today, even if they were due to racism in the past. It's a dangerously oversimplified way of looking at the complexities and the inequities in a society.

For example, redlining. Go back to a redlined neighborhood in 1950; most of the people in it were white. That's something that we don't talk about. Redlining was not as racially targeted as a lot of people seem to almost want it to have been. It was about class. Nevertheless, a vastly disproportionate number of black people were caught in these same neighborhoods, so black people suffered disproportionately from redlining. Is that the reason today that a certain wealth gap between white and black people exists? To some extent, yes. But if you actually look at the numbers, if you distinguish between medians and averages, if you distinguish between regions of the United States, if you distinguish between social class, the wealth gap is not what people say.

Certainly the fact that so few black people could build up equity back in the day, not that long ago, was a matter of racism. But today, to look at the wealth gap and say, "This is systemic racism"—no. That was way back in the past. Today, there's inequity. What do you do about it? Do you give black people a certain amount of money? Do you give black people houses? How much of a house? How much money? It's complicated. And that's usually not really what people mean.

What are we talking about, that it is racism? That's a very odd way of using tense. Racism did something that created a disparity today.

When you look at American culture in 1960 and 1970 on the issue of race, there was a massive transformation. Can you talk a little bit about that?

The two-parent family is still a norm [back in 1960], even with poor black people. Welfare is a mean-spirited little program where you've always got the social worker knocking on the door and you're encouraged not to stay on it for very long. There's a general idea that how Martin Luther King looked at things was the standard and reasonable way of thinking about race: "Let's get rid of segregation, view people by the content of their character."

You go to 1970 and there's this whole new mood—the black power mood. The new idea is, "We can't do our best because you won't let us. And therefore you have to accept that we won't do our best, and that sometimes we'll do our worst." Gradually the notion settles in that doing your worst or not doing your best is almost what black authenticity is, because you stand as a totemic demonstration of white racism. 1960s racism is about segregation. By 1970, it's standard in certain circles that racism is still present and indestructable because it's structural.

Because of the welfare revolution in 1966, it starts to become regular for people to just stay on welfare, with no one concerned about whether they get job training. The knocking on the door dwindles in the early '70s, and it becomes this multigenerational program. It's not anybody's fault. Black America turned upside down between '60 and '70.

I think that civil rights up to about 1966 and [black activist] Stokely Carmichael and people yelling "black power" and not knowing what it meant—that's where it went wrong. And we're still stuck talking about these things the way those people did.

There's fascinating changes in polling data about race and outcomes in American life. By the end of the Barack Obama years, there was much more racial animosity. According to Gallup and Pew, black people feel that racism has become a bigger issue in their lives, and a lot of white people agree. Do you give any credence to that narrative?

None whatsoever. Obama starts being president in 2009, and then comes the Tea Party, and everybody thinks that that's mostly because of his race. But I always ask: If John Edwards, with his pretty boy white self but basically the same policies as Obama, had become president, would there have been no Tea Party? I don't think it would have been any different. The Tea Party happened the way it did because in 2009 Twitter became default, as did Facebook. Those things completely changed the contours of our lives even more than cellphones did.

Then on the American race scene, two things happened: Trayvon Martin's murder and Michael Brown's murder. Those two things taught educated America and beyond that black people labor under the threat of being unjustifiably killed by stray or racist white cops.

The saddest thing in the world is that it's become quite clear over the passage of time that the way both of those events were portrayed was complete myth. I was behind the people protesting both of those cases at the time. I now feel fooled, just like we all feel fooled by, bless his heart, Colin Powell. What happened to Trayvon Martin was not that he was killed unjustifiably by George Zimmerman. It was an unfortunate episode, but Trayvon Martin was also a very different person than we're led to think. And then also with Mike Brown, it was a lie. For reasons we'll never know, he kept on charging at that police officer. The idea that [the officer who killed Brown] just shot this guy dead with his hands up in the air—it's false.

Barack Obama's Justice Department, headed by Eric Holder, did an exhaustive investigation of the Michael Brown killing and came to the conclusion that you just articulated.

Yet the myth will never die.

The Brown incident did reveal a system of peonage that whole communities, particularly poor communities, often disproportionately black, were held under. You look at places like Ferguson, Missouri, where cops would give out huge numbers of tickets for speeding and other kinds of violations simply to gin up their own budgets.

Yeah, that was real. There are times when there's a racial disparity where it really does need to have the whistle blown on it. Stop-and-frisk in New York City had gone way, way too far. I wrote about that often and made a lot of people mad. With Ferguson, you learned about how unjust policing in general and all the fines being levied were. But the thing is the level of fury, the level of property destruction, that happened in Ferguson was about Mike Brown. The level of destruction and fury was not about people getting a lot of tickets and spending a night in jail. There could have been a more constructive way of addressing those things.

If the only way that we can get at those real things is to tell a big lie, that's really a sad way of looking at how sociopolitical change has to happen.

Is blackness as tight a category as it used to be? It was in the late '90s that the U.S. census allowed a multiracial category for the first time without horrible motivations behind it. 

There's a certain kind of person who is hopelessly devoted to the idea that the essence of blackness is laboring under this oppression from whites. The reality is that those category memberships are going to have to fray. We come from a time when [mixed-race kids] had to accept as they got older that they were black in effect. And that made sense in 1975; there was less room to maneuver in the culture. That's not true now.

Some people hearing me say that are thinking I mean that I don't like blackness or that I'm ambivalent about it. But I just think that the category is beginning to not make sense. That includes my daughters. I don't know if they, when they're 40, are going to identify as black women, as opposed to just mutt women growing up in an upper-middle-class world, where everybody has a different flavor. What they're basically becoming is modestly affluent American urban kids.

I worry these days that when people say blackness, what they mean is, roughly, not being buttoned up like Episcopalian whites. I worry that blackness is thought of as, roughly, jamming. I mean this as more than just dancing, but that there's something that black people are in touch with in terms of rhythm. That blackness is not being too exact—we're seeing that in so many educational materials. It runs throughout the culture that to be black is to not be precise, is to not be responsible for getting the exact answer. You have a rhythm; you jam. You don't sit in one place; it's about the beat. And I worry that [this sense of] blackness is primitive, you know?

The writer Christopher Lasch has a passage about how the term survivor slipped out of postwar narratives of people who survived death camps and gulags. By the end of the '60s, Betty Friedan was talking about how being an affluent suburban housewife was a form of concentration camp; survivorship had gone from being specific to the Holocaust to more general. We're in an age now where being a survivor—and making people around you aware of your trauma—seems to be how we talk about everything.

There were psychologists who started doing sessions between white people and black people, where white people's responsibility was to sign on to the idea that they were creating what we're now calling trauma among black people. And that lives on in [diversity, equity, and inclusion] initiatives. It starts out as a useful way to call attention to the fact that people are hurting. It's an analogy. Somebody who's been teased in school hasn't suffered the way somebody did in the Holocaust, but you can say that both people are survivors. Once that settles in and people stop processing it as extreme, you do have this usage of the term—kind of like the way we use the term racism—that stops being terribly useful, and sometimes can be almost manipulative and destructive of a person.

In your book, you talk about ways to make things better for black Americans. You suggest three things: End the drug war, teach reading properly, and get past the idea that everyone should go to college.

If there's no black market selling hard drugs on the street, you can't drop out of school and do that. There's no way to avoid getting some kind of legal work. And that's not always going to be fun when you're from an underserved community, because life is hard. If you've grown up somewhere where you aren't taught well, and you aren't taught how to do anything, you've got a problem. So not only do you end the drug war, because it destroys black communities by creating that black market temptation that sends people to prison and often to death, but then you also want to have something to catch those men. Those men should be caught in a system that cherishes and funds and values vocational education, with the idea being that he'll learn how to fix air conditioners and heaters and make a thoroughly middle-class living for the rest of his life.

The idea that what that person needs to do after high school [is to] go spend four years "expanding their mind" in ways that frankly don't much expand the mind—college is something that should be a choice for some people the way it was before 1945 and the G.I. Bill. I suspect what most people would rather do is go train for a career. If you want to go to college later in your life, that should be allowed, but it shouldn't be considered the default rite of passage. I cringe whenever I hear anybody talking to an audience about poor people and saying that college needs to be made more available. No, vocational school needs to be more available!

Teach reading properly—how did you come up with that?

That sounds so wonky. It sounds like I must have some sort of particular commitment to pedagogy. It's not that. Something that keeps kids, especially ones not from book-lined homes, from engaging with school is being taught reading wrong. It started with the whole controversy over whether Ebonics should be used in the schools in Oakland in 1997. If you were a part of that controversy, you learned about problems with reading that would lead anybody to think that the issue was black dialect. That wasn't the problem.

You wrote a whole book showing that black dialect is a really effective form of communication.

I also wrote another book saying that black dialect is not the reason that poor black kids have trouble learning to read standard English. It's that they weren't being taught to read right at all. If you've got a good phonics program, you've got a kid who will not, at around 8 years old, turn away from school because they just find reading too difficult.

I'm not sure how many [readers of the book] have the experience of knowing somebody who's about 25 years old, grew up the hard way. I've known black people like this; there are white people like it too—somebody where you're at the restaurant and they're moving their lips when they read the menu because, you know, menus are tough to read. Almost always, it's somebody who went to a school where they basically just threw some kid books at them and had them take it in by osmosis. That's not how you teach people how to read. It really worries me because, disproportionately, black kids suffer from that.

So I really do think: Have kids learn to read so they're less likely to drop out of school. Then, when they leave school, no black market within the neighborhood. I completely understand why people would choose that, but that shouldn't be available. What should be available is good, solid vocational training so that they can go out into the world and lead the kinds of productive lives that their grandfathers did. I'm modeling this on black communities in big cities in, say, 1949. That was no paradise by any means, but most black men worked legal jobs.

What are your rhetorical and discursive strategies for dealing with the "elect," your term for social-justice activists?

There's a certain kind of person who thinks that battling power differentials is supposed to be central to everything we do. The idea is that those power differentials exist, and until they don't, everything else is fiddling while Rome burns. That kind of person, if you disagree with them, calls you a white supremacist.

There are two things that we have to do: One is we have to get used to being called that name and walking on, instead of thinking that [being] called a racist on social media stains us like Hester Prynne. And two, that kind of person needs to be told, "No."

I think a lot of us, especially since June 2020 and [the killing of] George Floyd, have thought, when that person comes along talking about social justice and hegemony and intersectionality, and tells you that we're going to change all of our procedures, and if you disagree, we're going to call you names on social media or get you fired, that our job is to say yes.

The people calling for that need to be told no. They don't need to be abused, but just: "No. We don't agree with you that battling power differentials should be the center of our endeavor here. It will be one of about a dozen things that we do. It will not be the center. And if you don't like it, you have to leave. And I don't care what you call me."

This interview has been condensed and edited for style and clarity. The full video version can be viewed here.

NEXT: Brickbat: Finished Off

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  1. Fuck Justin Trudeau

    1. Let's Go Brandeau!

      1. Let's go Brandeau, I agree.

  2. As a Koch / Reason libertarian, I talk about racism in a way that promotes the financial interest of my white billionaire benefactor Charles Koch. We must remind Americans how terrible slavery was — and convince them that supporting "border enforcement" is basically the same as supporting slavery.

    Click my username for a skillful demonstration of this technique.


  3. Where's Kirkland? Isn't it about time for him to show up and call McWhorter a clinger?

    1. With the exception of LIarson, there has been a conspicuous absence of the usual 50 centers lately. I'm thinking that their paymasters are scanning the horizon in order to formulate a new strategy [because they old one, and all of its talking points, aren't working].

    2. Surely he'd call him a dinger.

  4. How about just talk to people about individualism.

    1. But the Reason commenter who calls himself a "radical individualist" is actually the most passionate advocate of mandatory CRT classes and #RaceAboveAll thinking.


      1. That is a very good point. In a world without dictionaries, the radical individualist changes all.

      2. Maybe you can get Jeffy to answer why he didn’t comment on Robbie’s article about CRT in schools yesterday? Maybe he couldn’t even see it because it doesn’t exist in his world?

        1. It is happening but it is not what you think.

          1. And its good for you.

    2. This.

      Why talk about racism? It's like talking about ignorance. Sure, if something racist (or ignorant) call it out, put a stop to it, whatever. But you don't need to spend your entire day going on and on and on about it. Focus on individuals.

      1. "Why talk about racism? "

        Specifically for one purpose. Race grifters trying to snatch power for themselves. Be them black (BLM) or white (Robin deangelo and wine moms like her). The end goal is to make everything "racist" which of course they have the solution for: more power and prominence for the professional "anti-racists" to tell us how mean and unfair life is.

        1. Best-selling books pay for lots of wine boxes.

          1. And endow no end of Chardonnay wisdom; which is of course is the first cousin once removed of Champagne socialism.

        2. Well said. McWhorter here, is the real deal..and not into the “victimhood” racket. Of course, he’ll get the “Uncle Tom” label from the usual suspects: the race baiting hustlers and those leftist federal types, who want to keep the “plantation” running cause they, as elitists, “know better”.

      2. Excellent!

    3. Individualism is the opposite of racism.

      1. Yep. A MINIMUM step to eliminate systemic racism is to actually eliminate systemic racism (racial quotas, "affirmative action," treating people as their race and not as an individual).

    4. Or organize a protest...

      The one man march for individualism!

  5. McWhorter argues that today's anti-racist crusaders evince a quasi-religious fanaticism that ends up hurting, not helping, the plights of black Americans.

    If McWhorter thinks the goal of anti-racism is to help black folk, there is no reason to read anything he writes.

    1. You didn't actually read the article, did you. If you did read it and still think that "McWhorter thinks the goal of anti-racism is to help black folk", then the problem is with your reading comprehension, not with his writing.

      1. Nope, stopped reading right there when it was suggested there was any good faith angle to anti-racism.

        1. Try again. You don't always have to be all in with someone to garner some benefits from listening to or reading them.

          1. No, no, no, reading the entire article is something only faggots do. Non fags read until the first thing that triggers them and then stop. That's how it's done. You'd know this if you weren't such a FAG. /sarc

          2. A proper retort.

        2. Then you are defining yourself as part of the problem. Whether or not there is a good faith angle to anti-racism, many of the adherents to that belief think there is a good-faith basis. Until you can at least acknowledge the existence of their justification, you will never be able to coherently rebut their beliefs.

          1. You will never understand your political opponents if you assume that they believe what they do because of stupidity or malice (though sometimes that is the case). That's a huge part of why people so badly failed to understand Trump as a political phenomenon.

          2. You cannot effectively rebut someones religious beliefs, wasn't that one of the articles points?

            If someone bases their religion on lies and half truths can you ever change their mind with facts.......no!

            1. And yet, people have been having religious conversations since, well, probably the start of religion. And some of those conversations result in religious conversions - or losses of faith.

              It's hard. And it's not likely to work. But it has a chance - as long as you start from the acknowledgement of their faith.

        3. They lost me at elevator pitch. Cocktail party faggots.

      2. Reading comprehension and the commentariat go together like a horse and horse-less carriage. They don't.

        1. Projection.

          1. Or reflection?

    2. @Spiritus Mundi
      Idiot. You just wanted to virtue signal how much you disapprove of the race grifters selling "Anti-Racism" and "Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity (DIE!) training, programs, seminars, books, etc.. weren't you? You wanted to show how much MORE you disapprove of them than McWhorter, right? But virtue signaling is ALWAYS self-indulgent, ALWAYS self-promoting and ALWAYS counterproductive, whether from right, left, or libertarians. And that's fine, if that's all you wanted to "achieve". Hope you feel superior.

      But McWhorter offers a much more nuanced, analytical and realistic critique of what's wrong with those race grifters than you ever could. I'd advise you not to bother with McWhorter's work. You're not up to it, if your main goal is establishing your moral superiority.

      1. This is the best example of projection I've seen in the comment section in a long time. You are giving the local nuts like chemjeff and white mike a run for their money. But the all-caps crankery is usually the perview of sqrly.

    3. Meh - pointing out that not all people are part of the religious cult leaves open the dialog that there is in fact some racism still in existence, but that what the cult is talking about will do nothing to fix it.

  6. “Or people ask me, "How can I get that kind of person to not call me a racist?" You can't. That's what they do.”

    The end.

    1. Exactly this. Seeking out their approval is pointless, they are going to call you racist.

      You think you can be a well meaning white guy and talk to Ibram Kendi, Joy Reid, any of the pro race grifters, speak basic facts to them and not have them come out of it with: "white man racism!!" No of course not. So they are to be ignored.

    2. It's like "transphobic". When you get accused of being "transphobic", I recommend saying "And...?" with a blank stare (or the online equivalent thereof). A lot of times they will be flummoxed at the failure of their "attack".

      If they DO undertake to explain the "violence" you are committing by not being aggressively "pro-trans", I explain that I view their self-harm, hysterical overreactions and "emotional pain" as subjective responses, not external harms inflicted on them. And that I never signed up to be responsible for the mental well-being of trans people, even though I wish them well with whatever therapeutic steps they choose to take.

      They go off to virtue signal about their harrowing encounter with an actual transphobe, and I forget they existed.

      1. I can't think of many things more fear inducing than grabbing a penis that you didn't expect to be there. Phobic I am.

        1. Yeah, McWhorter is kind of an academic weenie type. But he does have a lot of good and interesting things to say.

  7. “The Brown incident did reveal a system of peonage that whole communities, particularly poor communities, often disproportionately black, were held under. You look at places like Ferguson, Missouri, where cops would give out huge numbers of tickets for speeding and other kinds of violations simply to gin up their own budgets.”

    Can I get a cite that this occurs primarily in poor black communities? I put about 25,000 miles a year on my truck for work, all within a 3 county area. I’m very familiar with what jurisdictions in that area utilize speed traps to help out the budget. Race has nothing to do with it. I also drive up to northern Michigan several times a year and am quite familiar with where to slow down as I drive through. There’s not many black people driving up to northern Michigan.

    I wonder when the last time Nick drove anywhere outside of a major urban area.

    1. You want a cite for something that McWhorter didn't say? Something that's disclaimed in the very passage that you quoted?

      He said that this system particularly occurs in poor communities. Your subsequent comment agrees with that assessment. He says separately that poor communities are often (but not exclusively) black. Is that what you want a cite for? That poor black communities exist? Any census database can show you that.

      He never says that this system "occurs primarily in ... black communities". In fact, the entire point of his comment is that it's not unique to black communities - that the issue has been coopted to make political points that distract us from actually solving the underlying problems.

      1. It was a statement by Nick in his question. Did you miss the “Nick” part of my comment? Try harder.

        1. I did miss that. I apologize. Nevertheless, my criticism (with the corrected attribution) remains true. You're asking for a cite for something that wasn't said - that explicitly wasn't said in the very section you quoted.

          1. “whole communities, particularly poor communities, often disproportionately black”

            That’s a direct quote from Nick. The word “often” means frequently, which I take to mean over 50%. As someone who drives over 25,000 miles a year, that’s not my experience. It’s a claim that should have some factual evidence to back it up.

            1. And I shouldn’t have to preface such comments, but maybe it would help, but I still expect Reason to reflect their name, especially regarding issues such as race.

            2. "Most" is the word that means 'over 50%'. "Often" does not have a strictly quantitative definition but it is generally defined as 'not seldom' or 'frequently'. Again, not strictly quantified but in my experience, those are thresholds substantially below 50%.

    2. It is entirely possible that sometimes race actually DOES play a part in how corrupt and greedy small town police work their grifts.

      It is entirely stupid to generalize a universal racist motive from those instances, though. So you're right about that.

  8. "I call it a religion partly because of formal similarities between it and especially devout Christianity, starting with white privilege as original sin. Not only are those parallels important, but I have a heuristic reason for it. Some people were expecting Woke Racism to be an examination of the nature of religion and wokeness and what the parallels are. Nobody would have read that book. They shouldn't have; it's not that important."

    I'm thrilled to see someone nail wokeness as an almost perfect substitute for evangelical fanaticism. I would have bought multiple copies of that book about the nature of religion and wokeness and given it to friends and family. It's an extremely important topic!

    Fanatical wokeness sustains itself by masquerading as something other than religion. The original sin of racism is one parallel. Other parallels to religion include the call for white people to sacrifice their privileges, which--like religion--makes the woke white people feel like a part of something larger than themselves and gives their lives meaning and purpose.

    The reason it's important for people to understand the parallels between woke fanaticism and religion is that the reason the fanatics are uncritical of their own beliefs is largely because they don't recognize their own beliefs as being religious in nature. The woke imagine that because their beliefs are not centered on the supernatural, they aren't religious in nature. They need to be deprogrammed.

    If they understood the religious nature of their beliefs, woke white people would start to question them. So, pardon me for disagreeing about an important and interesting book that, apparently, still needs to be written about the nature of wokenesss and its parallels to religion. People need to see woke fanaticism as the religious "awakening" is in it's historical and sociological context.

    That book might start with observations about how true believing Muslims, for instance, don't really believe in the supernatural--from their own perspectives. In their minds, God is real and part of the natural world. It is not a belief in the supernatural that makes someone a religious fanatic.

    Suicide bombers are fanatics because they're willing to sacrifice everything for their cause and because of their enthusiasm for inflicting themselves on not only unbelievers but also the innocent. Of course, no one is really innocent from the perspective of a religious fanatic, and, yes, woke white people with their original sin of racism are no exception. I know dozens of people who need to read that supposedly unimportant book that no will buy!

    1. One can only hope that when Russia and China eventually whip our asses, they implement a de-wokeification program on us similar to the de-Nazification program Eisenhower released on Germany post WWII.

      1. China and Russia are probably in decline, and China loves using woke rhetoric.

        [The U.S. and its allies] have formed a US-centered, racist, and mafia-styled community,” said a Feb. 23 editorial in Global Times. “They are becoming a racist axis aimed at stifling the development rights of 1.4 billion Chinese.”

        "The Communist Party-run paper notes that the members of Five Eyes, an intelligence-sharing network, “have a strong sense of civilization superiority.” U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton is a “neo-Nazi and extreme racist” and “the Trump administration is an extremely typical white supremacy government.” By resisting this bloc of English-speaking countries, the editorial concludes, “China is not only defending its own interests, we are also defending the diversity of the modern world.”


        They'd reeducate us to hate ourselves for being racists if they could.

        1. This is a very good article.

          "China Is a Declining Power—and That’s the Problem"

          The United States needs to prepare for a major war, not because its rival is rising but because of the opposite.

          ----Foreign Policy


        2. There's a difference between Chinese propaganda and US propaganda. The US believes their's. The Chinese don't make the mistake.

    2. Woke = postmodern nazism

    3. Two more religious components of modern progressivism: guilt and submission.

      Ken, you mentioned whiteness as original sin. But for woke white people, being white is a real time flaw that should inspire endless guilt, and can never be overcome in this life.

      And like many other religions, especially Islam, true woke believers must submit completely, and reject their individual identity and autonomy. Of course, their approach to non-believers is also based on submission.

      1. There are fanatics and moderates in all religions, and the difference between them is largely a function of how much they're willing to sacrifice for their beliefs and how eager they are to inflict their beliefs on others. Being willing to sacrifice their own privileges for the cause is one of the means by which the white woke fanatics differentiate themselves from other Democrats as remarkably pious. It's not enough to not be racist. One must be anti-racist! Another way white woke fanatics differentiate themselves is their eagerness to inflict themselves on others. The infidels are not innocent. They're evil!

        All of these urges are driven by the evolutionary development of the neocortex, which evolved to harness the advantages of language and religion. The evolutionary advantages of religion are understood to be about things like group cohesion and group size. Those urges haven't changed in 150,000 years because our neocortex hasn't really changed much in 150,000 years. Atheistic progressives are still subject to the same hard wiring as the believers. They just rationalize those urges in different terms.

        Wokeism offers a religious like experience to people who wouldn't have a religion otherwise. I'd argue that environmentalism does the same thing in a related way--and includes the promise of an environmental utopia and the threat of an environmental apocalypse if we don't change our sinful ways. I'm not saying these belief systems are wrong, necessarily, because that would be like saying it's wrong to have evolved opposable thumbs.

        The problem isn't religion per se. The problem if fanaticism--the eagerness to sacrifice more and more as an urge for piousness and the urge to inflict your beliefs on non-believers with the use of government coercion or other kinds of force. And this is true of all religions--Muslims and Christians and environmentalists and the woke. The problem isn't the beliefs themselves. Believe what you want. Persuade whomever you can. But respect the freedom of conscience of others. Otherwise, you become a fanatic and a threat to the causes you're trying to promote.

        Has anyone harmed the perceptions of Islam worse than Osama bin Laden? How did witch burnings improve the cause of Christianity among the skeptics? Environmental fanaticism makes people afraid that if the environmentalists are elected to power, they'll destroy the economy in pursuit of their goals. And there may not be anyone doing more injury to the perception of anti-racism than the white, woke anti-racists themselves, when they're treating everyone as a racist in their fanaticism and advocating forced sacrifice as the only solution and making everyone the enemy.

    4. The book you want is about "wokeness" in general, not "racial wokeness" in particular, which is what McWhorter is addressing.
      Try James Lindsay, and DO buy extra copies for distribution. He has as clear a grasp on the origins, warped evolution and current corruption of wokeness as anybody.

    5. "Fanatical wokeness sustains itself by masquerading as something other than religion. "

      This is a key point. Leftism/Marxism/any other form of totalitarianism ALWAYS sustains itself by masquerading as something other than what it is. There are really only two political / economic / ethical viewpoints. One starts from the assumption (as does our Constitution) that all people are individuals; all inherently possess individual rights; and that the ONLY valid reason for violating those rights must be an OVERWHELMING requirement to protect the individual rights of everyone else (i.e. putting murderers in jail; collecting taxes to build roads for commerce which benefit everyone equally through better prosperity, etc.). This viewpoint is about win-win voluntary living.

      Everything else is just flavors, varieties, and degrees of totalitarianism. The treatises and rationalizations are endless, yet always ultimately the same: "THIS violation of your rights is DIFFERENT, WE are DIFFERENT because WE are "Good."" Some of it even comes from a place of good intentions (although it is important to note that much of that is simply feigned). But at its core, all violations of individual rights for anything without an OVERWHELMING need to protect society at large is playing into the win-lose philosophy - like a dysfunctional family.

  9. More germane to these instructions than how to talk about racism is why one would talk about racism. Once you figure out the why, figuring out how is relatively trivial.

    1. Racism is the new class struggle for Marxists. The middle class is too big, too prosperous, and too generally satisifed with their lot in life to use the 1% to generate class struggle.

    2. As Morgan Freeman said: "Stop talking about it".

    3. True. An obsession to talk about racism IS racism.

  10. Being fixated on racism, or "racism", is very unhealthy for both individuals and larger society.

    1. Um, that's the point.

  11. I would recommend a series of conversations between Mcwhorter and Glenn Loury, just google it on youtube.

  12. "It's amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness."

    ~Penn Jillette

    1. From the Gov't point of view: Compulsory altruism.
      From the voters point of view: Altruism by proxy
      From my point of view: Armed robbery

    2. Precisely. If we want a safety net, it shouldn't be a hammock.

      We should end EVERY program which gives money. Provide HEALTHY food, serviceable clothing, and a place to stay for those truly unable to cope with the demands of life, and demand in exchange they relinquish their right to vote. Want beer and drugs? Go work. I guarantee 50% or more would drop off aid programs if they stopped giving cash, because they don't actually need it but just want the money to supplement their life-choices.

  13. Racism is race-based bigotry. Period. Racism is not a power differential, although a power hierarchy can be racist. There's a difference. Institutionalized racism exists, but only because race-based bigots institutionalized it.

    The racism of the past has given us a lot of problems today, but that doesn't mean we're no better than the past. Racism is in full on retreat, and not because of the Leftists, but because people have abandoned it as an attitude. To keep clinging on to the racism of the past as a form of self-valuation is pathological.

    There is still racism left, but the only way to get past it is to ... get past it.

    1. Institutionalized racism exists

      , he claimed without evidence.

      Institutions can trap people in a cycle of poverty, but absent a law specifically targeting a racial group, it has nothing to do with race. Individual racists policing based on race are not 'institutional'.

      Racism springs from ignorance. There is still ignorance left, but the only way to get past it is to stop reinforcing it.

      1. I understand your scepticism because the CRT fanatics tell you that literally everything is institutionalized racism. But let me give you some example where it is real:

        The War on Drugs. Most early laws against narcotics were explicitly racist. Laws against the Asian drug (opium), laws against the Latino drug (marijuana), laws against the Black drug (heroin, then crack). The War on Drugs has been become an institution, and thus it's institutionalized racism. Doesn't mean the drug cops today are racists, just that the racism of the past has become institutions of the present.

        The Minimum Wage. Originally minimum wage laws were meant to protect white workers from being unbid by Black workers. That hand wringing progressives today aren't demanding it because of racism does not deny the fact that it was originally a racist policy.

        Immigration. And this is where the right wing will disagree, I'm sure. In the past there was a big push to stop people coming over from undesirable countries. Like China. Or Italy (back then Italians were not considered anglo-saxon "white"). Today there are still people with racist attitudes wanting to lock down immigration from certain countries. You know who they are. That they couch their racism in terms of ethnicity or nation of origin does not make them any less racist. They are going away, but they still have a huge impact on immigration policy.

        1. Your examples sound great, but other than the Progressive's goals for minimum wage, they are just not true.

          The War on Drugs was started by Nixon in direct reaction to veterans coming home from SE Asia addicted to the cheap heroin. The laws being enforced prior to that were nuisance laws like the transfer tax on MJ for which Timothy Leary was famously arrested.

          Immigration is a much different argument, but the intention to allow the federal government to manage citizenship is plainly spelled out in the Constitution. The history of exclusion, from the Irish during the famines to the Jews during the 1930s to the Haitians today, has always been about holding onto advantages of those already here.

          Through all of this, the impact of institutions on a class of people has always been the result. Wages affect everyone at that level, drug laws affect all addicts and dealers and immigration affects all nations regardless of race. Just because the disparate impacts correlate with race does not prove causation.

          An example: people who don't drive with weed in their car don't get arrested in traffic stops regardless of their race.

          Another example: truly racist institutions lead to the Japanese internment without a corresponding internment of Germans or Italians. That could not occur within those same institutions today.

      2. ", he claimed without evidence."

        Hardly. Affirmative action exists. Race quotas exist. Mandatory reporting by businesses differentiated by race exist. The Xiden administration wanted to distribute Covid drugs in New York based on race. These and thousands of other laws / regulations / decrees exist. Even ONE of them would be proof positive of systemic racism. Eradicate every trace of race from the laws and regulations, and then talk to us about how systemic racism no longer exists.

  14. "McWhorter argues that the ideas of Robin DiAngelo, Ibram X. Kendi, and the Times' 1619 Project sharpen racial divides while drawing attention away from actual obstacles to improving quality of life for black Americans."

    Thus we conclude that these people and their comrades wish for more divisive societies, based on race (at least at first), and have no interest in actually making life better for black Americans (or any other people).

    1. +; excellent brief summation, thank you; oppression be it real, imagined, or grossly exaggerated, is the essential ingredient.

  15. Not only are these people mean and unpleasant to deal with, but in the name of social justice for black people, they often either don't care about black people for real, or they're hurting black people.

    Go back to a redlined neighborhood in 1950; most of the people in it were white. That's something that we don't talk about. Redlining was not as racially targeted as a lot of people seem to almost want it to have been. It was about class.

    Those men should be caught in a system that cherishes and funds and values vocational education, with the idea being that he'll learn how to fix air conditioners and heaters and make a thoroughly middle-class living for the rest of his life.

    I also wrote another book saying that black dialect is not the reason that poor black kids have trouble learning to read standard English. It's that they weren't being taught to read right at all.

    Amazing that someone who spends so much time in academic settings can perceive reality. Racism and religious hatred have always been about class. Everyone just wants to know they are better than someone else.

    I am confident that the allure of criminality could be broken even in the most affected communities if the black markets were broken by establishing legal markets. The bureaucratic class in America is never going to let that happen because their vast wealth is generated by people struggling within the system. They lobby for ever increasing amounts of punishment and welfare. Profiteering in external wars and internal wars offset with the graft skimmed from the vast bureaucracy tearfully cultivated to make reparations to the victims.

  16. I consider it useful to think of this as a religion so that people can understand that we can't have productive exchanges with the particular kind of person I'm writing about. Many people think, "Well, if we could only get them to understand that we need a plurality of ideas." Or people ask me, "How can I get that kind of person to not call me a racist?" You can't. That's what they do.

    Spot on. There's no point in trying to have a discussion with religious fundamentalists of any kind, and woke racists are no different.

  17. 'zackly. They don't agree that "we need a plurality of ideas", despite that having been an engine of human advancement for a long time. They want ONE orthodoxy, a simple one, easily propagandized and with the right people in charge of it.

    A wise man once said:
    "When leftists rationalize their horrid policies with the saying "You have to break some eggs to make an omelet”, make no mistake, there’s no intent to make an omelet, only to break eggs, and ensure they're in charge of it."

    1. Absolutely true.

      “Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that.

      We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”

      ~~~George Orwell, 1984

  18. is very easy to not do race.

  19. John McWhorter just looks like the black Kevin Spacey to me. I can't unsee it. He even sounds like him.

    1. I wonder if his wife looks like Claire?

  20. How to talk about racism:

    1. First of all, find examples of racism in absolutely everything. Make sure that the topic of racism dominates all news stories to the exclusion of disease, wars, famine, etc. That's really important.

    2. Encourage everybody to have discussions about racism. Keep badgering those who are reluctant to do so until they acquiesce. If they still won't participate in the discussion, then accuse them of racism, publicly shame them, put their names on twitter and Facebook.

    3. Now that you've strong-armed everybody into the "Discussion," scream your views loudly and often. Don't let anybody get a word in edgewise.

    4. In the unlikely event that you let your guard down, and let somebody express a nuanced opinion, then you MUST shout them down, accuse them of racism, and then expel them from the very same racism discussion you forced them to attend.


  21. Equating woke racism with religion belittles black people. Woke racism is what it is and should be resisted on it own terms. It is not ‘like’ anything else and does not need to be.

    Using the like religion argument is like using a crutch to argue the merits of any push against woke racism. It is admitting that the arguments presented are not reasonable enough on their own and need help. The arguments are reasonable and opponents of woke racism should have the dignity to stand up to it without looking for support from other causes such as opposition to fundamentalist religion.

    Argue against woke racism based on logic and reason and do not stoop to latching on to the coattails of other causes. Black people everywhere deserve better.

    1. Well, I see his point - I live in the Chicago area and if you bring up politics here, its always the white left-winger (usually a lady) that becomes extremely hostile, self-righteous, and aggressive if anything they believe is challenged.

      It does have a strong religious vibe in there (the absolute certainty of their beliefs and their reactions to those beliefs being challenged).

  22. Until people are ready to admit homos are really nothing less than a pederast heroin cult, what can you expect to change? The completely co-opt the notion that "black" means criminals. Its total soft bigotry of low expectations from antifa about blm. The whole 2020 election was completely blind to the fact obiden had ran an afghan pederast heroin cartel and covered it up. Trump was no better tho. If you were being criticized about your handling of an act of god like a covid outbreak, why would you counterpoint about swine flu instead of the heroin epidemic that verifiably killed millions and honey trapped the whole democrat constituency? Covid was a contagious act of god. jHoe obiden's afghan pederast heroin cartel dope epidemic was an act of jHoe. Just the fact that virtually no one knows the afghan term "bacha bazi" or that any mention of it on mainstream sicial media is blocked and banned, is both and alltogether, criminal and election fraud. We literally re-installed tge war criminal responsable for supplying, aiding, hiding, and funding the biggest heroin cartel tge wold has ever seen. That they were a pederast heroin cartel to boot is the pretense by which the leftists banned any discussion of it. They literally made us all guilty of being complicit with a pederast heroin cartel because the left is gay. At this point, there is NO distinction between the whole of the lgbtqxyz and fking NAMBLA. The homos are 6% of the population and 90% of the leftist pundits and politicians. Let that sink in for a sec and then dont wonder in the least why they would block anything that would impede southern border heroin smuggling, illegals voting, or anything that might deport young latino illegal imigrant boys. They're 6% of the population. In order to get themselves in power, they have to radicalize criminals. What better way to get people to belive prison culture is black culture than to radicalize criminals?

    Democrats should be extinct.

  23. Drug test the fed.

  24. Check the annual mortality rate. It has trended upward each year since 2010 by .15% each year. That until 2019 when covid outbreak hit. After that the upward trend actually began to taper off. Trump was actually saving lives. Now that obiden is back as potus, i doubt the annual mortality rate isnt steeply trending upward again.

    Voting democrat kills "black" lives.

  25. After waging a coverup over the afghan pederast heroin cartel obiden gave us, its safe to to say the lgbtqxyz is a bunch of pedos. I'd hate to be anyone that woulf still stand next to them or the democrats as a whole. Safe to say tho, african americans really do not like to keep their company. It's just really sad there are so many prison culture blm folks that want to say democrats are a "black" thing. Right, like no one knows what dixicrats are just because they dont teach about it in public schools? And why dont they teach about dixicrats in public schools? Feminists, pederasts, and heroin cartels, stick together.

  26. I can see why north korea doesnt like californians now. Anyone seen the namblanese kpop culture the heroin leftists are honeytrapping?

    If your foreign policy depends on narcotics you can no longer be trusted near, it's time for a real change.

  27. Democrats and their [WE] mob building Gov-Gun toting criminals is what made the USA racist, sexist, and a ton of other [WE] gang cult building.

    As-if their compulsive whining and crying for MORE POWER for x,y,z (race, sex, wealth, etc...) wasn't a DROP DEAD give-away.

  28. Observation about the Modern World.
    USA represents about 5% of the Worlds Population.....
    The other 95% of the World hates USA ....simply because we Americans refuse to do things ... the "right" way....and yet we always seem to succeed.
    From the truly AMerican point of view....which the rest of the world sees as "Wrong"......Social Justice is neither "social" nor "justice"...
    this is because to apply "social justice", the System has to deny "certain unalienable Individual rights" in order to achieve so-called social justice.
    Social Justice requires stripping an individual of his/her identity and forcing an individual to represent an arbitrarily defined group identity and stand responsible for arbitrarily defined "crimes" committed by this arbitrarily defined group at sometime in the past.
    Thus in America when we have individuals, for what ever reason, killing other individuals.......its no longer considered important to punish "murder".....it is deemed more important to punish a "hate crime"....
    Social Justice favored over the simple, obvious Rule of Law and "Trial by Jury of Peers".
    Social Justice is how 95% of the world defines the "right" way....and unintentionally holds itself back, hindering progress.
    America is losing its identity by attempting to fit in with the rest of the world.

  29. People dont like each other for all kinds of reasons.
    Its called "prejudice".....which is necessary for survival.
    Is it/he/she "safe"? "dangerous"?
    Prejudice is personal.....individual.
    Now Racism........is by definition.......Systemic.
    Always has been. Always will be.
    Racism was instilled in the Code of Law built in the Americas.
    EVERYWHERE. Not just America. Europe. Asia. Africa. EVERYWHERE.
    Another name for "racism".....is "Tribalism".
    The USA has taken a different tack than the rest of the world.
    And we have been MORE successful at eliminating Racism than any other nation on the Planet. MORE successful.
    The USA had to fight a Civil War to destroy a very profitable, systemic racist system called "slavery"......even as most of the world continued to enforce this racist system. russia didnt free the "serfs" until 1890s,,,,many nations around the world still allow slavery.....to. this. day.
    Not until 1965 did the USA voluntarily cast itself into the Wilderness for a biblical two generations(40 years) in order to erase the memory of our racist past........committing to enforce new laws that prohibitted "denial of employment, education, vote, opportunity based on race, religion, sex, or national origin".......
    Since about the 2000, we Americans have entered that land described by MLK, Jr........we're already there....
    We cannot prevent individuals from thinking "prejudice" or even speaking out about it.....its their individual right..........
    We can....We MUST enforce the Rule of Law.

  30. "If there's no black market selling hard drugs on the street, you can't drop out of school and do that."

    While I'm all for legalization, just legalizing it isn't gonna help the black population much. Have any of you walked into a dispensary? Sure that eight of bud, that half gram vial its $40 to $55 (or so) but when you get to the checkout it jumps way up from the listed price (and its all taxes and government fees). So that $45 eight quickly becomes $72 cuz of the taxes and fees.

    Which is why places California, Colorado, Illinois - where its a legal are still struggling with a much cheaper black market.

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