John McWhorter: 'Woke Racism' Has Betrayed Black America

Forget Robin DiAngelo, Ibram X. Kendi, and The 1619 Project. Start with ending the drug war, says the Columbia University linguist.


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"The people who are calling themselves black people saviors don't understand this, but they're hurting black people because what they're caught up in is more about virtue signaling to one another than helping people who actually need help."

That's New York Times columnist and Columbia University linguist John McWhorter talking about his best-selling new book Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America. He argues that the ideas of Robin DiAngelo, Ibram X. Kendi, and The 1619 Project undermine the success of black people by sharpening racial divides and distracting from actual obstacles to real progress.

His shortlist for what would most help black America? "There should be no war on drugs; society should get behind teaching everybody to read the right way; and we should make solid vocational training as easy to obtain as a college education."

Reason's Nick Gillespie spoke with the 56-year-old McWhorter about what white people get out of cooperating with an ideological agenda that casts them as devils, 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.

Photo credits: Photo by BP Miller on Unsplash; Tim Evans/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom; Eddie Moore/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom; Photo by Devin Berko on Unsplash; Photo by Matheus Viana on Unsplash; Jacquie Boyd IKON Images/Newscom; John Marshall Mantel/ZUMA Press/Newscom

Music credit: "Seductive," by Evgeny Bardyuzha via Artlist.io

Audio production by by Ian Keyser, intro by Regan Taylor