When it comes to wokeness, it’s one thing for academia to go nuts (they’re already 98 percent there), and worrisome that corporate America has rolled over so easily for the latest racial shakedowns. But the Smithsonian Institution?
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture has posted up a guide to “Whiteness” that is straight out of a drunken faculty meeting. As the old saying goes, you have to read it, not to believe it. Here’s the opening paragraph:
Whiteness and white racialized identity refer to the way that white people, their customs, culture, and beliefs operate as the standard by which all other groups of are compared. Whiteness is also at the core of understanding race in America. Whiteness and the normalization of white racial identity throughout America’s history have created a culture where nonwhite persons are seen as inferior or abnormal.
If I had to bet, I’d place a large wager that this and the succeeding paragraph were written by a white person, or at least cribbed from white author Robin DiAngelo, who pulls down high five-figure fees for her workshops on how to overcome your “white privilege.” No one seems to notice the irony.
But the real show-stopper is the graphic table of White Culture (rendered more schematically here), which I post here in two installments. Take it in slowly:
My favorite part is the attack on “scientific method”:
Emphasis on Scientific Method:
• Objective, rational linear thinking
• Cause and effect relationships
• Quantitative emphasis
Remind me again why we’re supposed to think Republicans are against science?
As an antidote, see John McWhorter’s article in The Atlantic out today attacking the whole “white fragility” narrative, and especially Robin DiAngelo’s prominence at the moment. Some samples:
I have learned that one of America’s favorite advice books of the moment is actually a racist tract. Despite the sincere intentions of its author, the book diminishes Black people in the name of dignifying us. This is unintentional, of course, like the racism DiAngelo sees in all whites. Still, the book is pernicious because of the authority that its author has been granted over the way innocent readers think. . .
DiAngelo’s book is replete with claims that are either plain wrong or bizarrely disconnected from reality. . .
An especially weird passage is where DiAngelo breezily decries the American higher-education system, in which, she says, no one ever talks about racism. “I can get through graduate school without ever discussing racism,” she writes. “I can graduate from law school without ever discussing racism. I can get through a teacher-education program without ever discussing racism.” I am mystified that DiAngelo thinks this laughably antique depiction reflects any period after roughly 1985. . .
A corollary question is why Black people need to be treated the way DiAngelo assumes we do. The very assumption is deeply condescending to all proud Black people. In my life, racism has affected me now and then at the margins, in very occasional social ways, but has had no effect on my access to societal resources; if anything, it has made them more available to me than they would have been otherwise. Nor should anyone dismiss me as a rara avis. Being middle class, upwardly mobile, and Black has been quite common during my existence since the mid-1960s, and to deny this is to assert that affirmative action for Black people did not work.
White Fragility is, in the end, a book about how to make certain educated white readers feel better about themselves. DiAngelo’s outlook rests upon a depiction of Black people as endlessly delicate poster children within this self-gratifying fantasy about how white America needs to think—or, better, stop thinking. Her answer to white fragility, in other words, entails an elaborate and pitilessly dehumanizing condescension toward Black people. The sad truth is that anyone falling under the sway of this blinkered, self-satisfied, punitive stunt of a primer has been taught, by a well-intentioned but tragically misguided pastor, how to be racist in a whole new way.
I have a proposition: Di Angelo will never agree to debate McWhorter. I’m tempted to offer her a significant sum to do so.