6 Comments

Thank you! This is a near perfect crystallization of my problems with the modern "woke" left and it's approach to the problem of racial inequality. Another good example of this idea is the overly racialized rhetoric of police misconduct. Substantial evidence exists that this is not a problem exclusive to the black community. And while it undoubtedly affects blacks disproportionately, much of that is attributable to socioeconomic differences and the correspondingly higher rates of violent crime and police interaction.

This is not to say that attributing such disparities to racism per se is entirely invalid, and the visceral reaction of the polity to the abundance of visual evidence of blacks being brutalized by police (coupled with the media's startling negligence in covering similar instances involving white victims) is certainly understandable. But in failing to develop a non-racialized (or a less exclusively racialized) movement against police brutality, we deprive blacks and their allies of an expanded, strengthened political coalition better positioned to make real gains. Potential allies attempting to make this case are at best turned away, and at worst persecuted as trying to "erase" black pain by decoupling the problem from the prevailing narrative of anti-racism.

Furthermore, we place undue faith in the ability to directly counteract the subtle racial bias that is an inevitable *result* of social disparities (as much or moreso than it is the cause), without addressing those disparities themselves as primary. This leads to endless well-intended but ultimately futile efforts at "anti-bias" training, with it's ritual ablutions to confront one's privilege and "fragility" that ultimately serve as more of a self-help regimen to manage white people's feelings of guilt than an actual corrective to racial inequities.

Expand full comment

"Here critique shades over into caricature: many who are committed to overcoming racial disparities also support redistributive economic policies. But the Reeds are nevertheless right that race reductionism narrows our social and political imagination".

The problem here is the following: Do the Democrats have any political credibility to speak on behalf of the working class, when their politics is mostly premised on race and gender and they don't really "see" the average white person who is not a college educated professional? Uri Harris, a liberal commentator reported for Quillette on the kind of anti-white rhetoric that is popular in progressive circles. It is degrading and dehumanizing and it is certainly not condemned by white progressives or even by liberals. And as he correctly observed, this rhetoric is meant to denigrate lower class whites, especially if they are religious or have a "wrong" view on social or cultural questions. White liberals forget that many of them also had the so called wrong view a decade or two back and what is the "correct" view keeps changing over time - for example, today if I deny that America is a white supremacist society, in many environments dominated by white progressives, that would be considered a racial microaggression and there would be calls for me to be socially ostracized and my employer would be under pressure to fire me. The Left says this is ok because people need to face "consequences" for their views - everyone has to be held "accountable"! How can you say no to accountability!! People who think in this way may imagine that they are "progressive" and are uniquely virtuous, but I think they have lost their moral compass. J.M Coetzee wrote about what is happening here in his novel "Waiting for the barbarians".

Expand full comment

Another great article, one that forces me to think and question. Being a simple noncollege educated individual the big words were hard, four in a row and multiple times for God's sake, but I got the gist of it. One take away, for me, is to create the greatest chance of success for African Americans and their plight is to make the fight more collective and inclusive of underprivileged whites and Latinos too, essentially increasing the size of the tribe. The larger the tribe the great the impact of their voice politically and socially. Thank you kindly for the piece.

Expand full comment

I agree; that is the most important take-away.

Expand full comment

"Such invocations of a putatively unitary community, Adolph Reed argues, often serve the elites who claim to speak in its name, while those spoken for disappear “as all but a communitarian abstraction to be ventriloquized” by the spokespersons." Brilliant!

Purporting to know what's best for all the individuals in an identified group is both antidemocratic and dehumanizing.

Expand full comment

The post and both comments hit the mark exactly. I think reduction was in play at the Democratic convention. The convention rightfully emphasized the concerns and interests of African Americans and other people of color fighting systemic racism. But it did so almost to the exclusion of working class and poor whites. At least on the one night I paid close attention, one white worker, a farmer, was featured speaking as an ordinary voter. Trump won in 2016 because he flipped districts in midwestern, industrial states that voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012. The campaign needs to focus its efforts in the home stretch winning back those Obama voters, who are anything but white supremists.

Saying it another way, Elizabeth Warren greeted the last shift of the moth-balled GM Lordstown plant during the primaries Hardly noticed. Think of the explosive effect that a visit from Cory Booker or Kamela Harris would have had, underscoring how much de-industrialization has hurt not just white workers, but the African Americans and other minorities represented in the workforce. What if Harris gave a talk in W. Virginia, ground zero in the rural opiate epidemic, on criminal justice and drug addiction. Like many, I’m fed up with all the talk about ‘healing’. It will take decisive actions that illustrate the commonality between the races to get the country stepping forward together after the last four years.

Expand full comment