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In his book, Woke Racism, John McWhorter (a black, university-educated man and professor) fearlessly undermines the history, lies, and trappings of this destructive belief system and shows us its fraudulent origins, how we have been duped into believing it, and what we can do to stop its progress in our times. I came away greatly encouraged by his candid and incisive description of this system, and believe more than ever that we can slow, if not stop, its attacks on our culture.
Early on, McWhorter explains that the elitist black community, which he calls “the Elect,” has created a religion, although they don’t use that label. Many people would decry that description, but for the purposes of understanding woke racism, it’s ideal. He gives several examples of its “religious nature,” but here are some of the more powerful ones:
Elect scripture stipulates a judgment day: the great day when America ‘owns up to’ or ‘comes to terms with’ racism and finally fixes it. Apparently, this will happen through the long-term effects of psychological self-mortification combined with the transformational political activism that whites will be moved to effect upon being morally shamed and verbally muzzled.
This explains why even centrist views on race are so often tarred as ‘selling out.’ The logical sloppiness of it comes from a kind of desperation, born of a basic sense of personal injury. The guiding commandment is that we battle power differentials, especially racism, via spreading the Word. The black conservative wants to improve black lives just as they do but refuses to join their particular battle. The black conservative sees battling ‘racism’ as futile, and seeks alternate ways of helping people make the best of themselves. As such, they counter the Word. That, from the Elect perspective, is not ‘a different view,’ but heresy. Heresy makes you mad.
McWhorter also explains that the Elect are convinced that nothing has changed since the early days of racism:
The Elect require that we pretend that figures of the past are walking around with us, as if time does not pass. At best, this is the higher reasoning of quantum physics on the space-time continuum. But at worst, it is willful dummity. (Yes, I intend the word, which I made up. It summons how profoundly goofy this way of processing history is.)
The tragedy of characterizing racism in terms of the past shows how debilitating it is to the black community. They have created a distorted and irrational view of the black population by essentially inculcating these beliefs and insisting that these “feelings” are part of being black. That means they have created a fake religion and insist that whites and blacks accept it without question:
On racism, Elect philosophy teaches black people that cries of weakness are a form of strength. It teaches us that in the richness of this thing called life, the most interesting thing about you is that the ruling class doesn’t like you enough. It teaches us that to insist that black people can achieve under less than perfect conditions is ignorant slander. It teaches us that we are the first people in the history of the species for whom it is a form of heroism to embrace the slogan ‘Yes, we can’t!’ Elect philosophy is, in all innocence, a form of racism in itself. Black America has met nothing so disempowering—including the cops—since Jim Crow.
We are assured by McWhorter that there is no way for whites to redeem themselves, even if they fully accept the victim liturgy; that there is no way to have a discussion with people who are determined to elevate their victimhood to elite status; and the Elect will continue to humiliate the black population as long as they are allowed to speak out, and as often as we allow their ideas to flourish.
But there is hope.
One of my favorite parts of the book is when McWhorter gives the reader suggestions for fighting back against the religion of the Elect, and helps us face the hard truths of this ugly religion. He even offers “sample scripts” for fighting back:
People often ask, ‘How can I talk to people like this without being called a racist?’ The answer is: You cannot. That is, they will call you a racist, no matter what you do or say beyond what they stipulate as proper. Black people: Be ready for the alternate slam, that you are ‘self-hating’ and ‘betraying your own people.’ They will say this to and about you. The coping strategy, therefore, must be not to try to avoid letting them call you a racist, but to get used to their doing so and walk on despite it.
Especially helpful are the many examples that McWhorter gives for standing up to the attacks that are likely to ensue when you speak against the Elect. Many people who have been attacked have refused to apologize or back down, at times simply saying that the accusations against them are not true, and then refuse to engage with the diatribes. Eventually, people get tired of fighting someone who won’t fight back, and the outrage peters out. In rare situations (which are highly publicized), people have lost their jobs, but those are probably much rarer than we might think. I liked his analogy of our thinking of these situations as fighting sharks:
You can make a shark approaching you go away by bopping it on the nose. Something about that throws them and makes them turn around. We need to, metaphorically, start bopping Elects on the nose when they come for us. Wherever you are in a position to give an Elect the experience of calling you a dirty name and finding that you do not back down, you can contribute to a groundswell needed to put these people back in their place. Help set a new mood, even if only by refusing to heed the judgments of that little Elect angel on your shoulder when making decisions.
John McWhorter is calling on all of us, of all colors, to refuse to back down to the Elect. He is encouraging us to acknowledge and exhibit our own power against these misguided and hateful people. We don’t know if we will ever be able to fully eliminate Woke Racism, but taking these steps will be a powerful beginning. As he says:
The Elect is not merely some mess. The Elect is a scourge and must be treated as such.
Let’s fight this scourge with courage and determination.Published in