Another View. After a long delay, I finally got a copy of John McWorter’s book, “Woke Racism – How a New Religion has betrayed Black America.” I have just started to read it. I will be sharing my understanding of his writing as I work my way through the chapters. My first reading has been very encouraging. I have highlighted more thoughts in it than any book I have read in recent years.
The first overriding point to understand is that he is not a right-leaning person. He is a black intellectual very interested in fighting for social justice. He just believes the current “woke” approach is actually hurting the fight. In my opinion, he offers sound logical arguments.
He is an atheist. I obviously disagree with him on that issue, but his atheism is not central to his arguments against the “woke” approach.
Whiteness. I will discuss one issue today. I will share more topics in future blogs as I work my way through the book.
In McWorter’s opinion, the woke approach believes “That if you are white, you are to despise yourself as tainted permanently by ‘white privilege’ in everything you do.” He gives an example— in 2020 Northwestern University law school professors were required to stand up and denounce themselves for not only harboring privilege, but also for being outright racists. He vigorously disagrees with the position as do I.
While I agree we have white supremacy and white privilege in the United States of America, I disagree with anyone who claims that the problems are caused by whiteness. The problems lie within all humans when they are self-righteous and when they abuse power.
When a person inappropriately believes he or she is better than others that is self-righteousness. A person can appropriately believe he or she is better at some skill. For example, for many years Hussain Bolt was appropriate to believe he was faster than other runners. If he believed being faster made him a better person than others that would be self-righteousness.
If a white person inappropriately believes he or she is superior to others because of being white, then white supremacy has occurred. However, the problem is self-righteousness not whiteness. In many situations people with other skin colors or heritages can and do believe they are superior. The problem is a human problem not a white problem.
When a person uses power to grant privileges to others but denies the privileges to others based on skin color, he or she is abusing power. If the person is white and grants power to other whites but denies privilege based on skin color, then white privilege has occurred. In many other situations, people with other skin colors or heritages can and do grant privileges to other with the same skin color or heritage. The problem is the abuse of power, not whiteness. The problem is a human problem not a white problem.
There can be no doubt American history and our population distribution has resulted in disproportionate power in the hands of whites. The problems of self-righteousness and misuse of power are more commonly white because of history and frequency not whiteness.
Evidence. Since I am arguing the issues are human problems, I expect to find the problems of privilege and supremacy in countries other than the US. When I look at countries with different population distributions and history than the US, I believe I see the problems of supremacy and privilege in other colors and cultures than white.
For example, from what I know about Africa, it is reasonable to assume they have instances of tribal supremacy and tribal privilege. From what I know about the Middle East, I believe it is reasonable to assume I would find instances of royal supremacy and royal privilege. In India I believe the caste system shows supremacy and privilege in the relationships between Brahmins and Dalits. These three examples are enough to make it clear to me that the problems of supremacy and privilege are human problems found in many locations.
I sincerely believe examining other cultures clearly supports the argument that the best way to fight injustice is to attack self-righteousness and abuse of power not whiteness. The problems lie under the skin and should be fought when found in whites and any other skin color or heritage. I think the fight should be to find what causes self-righteousness and the abuse of power. The fight should not be having whites condemn themselves.
New Orleans. Our granddaughter who is a medical sociologist for Oxford University came to New Orleans for a convention. We made the trip to visit her and meet her significant other. Her father and stepmother joined us. We had a great visit, but it was hard to say good-by knowing the distance separating us.
I had to drive on Interstate 10 for several hours. It was a real test for me after the trauma of our accident. I was super cautious.
Mary Jane (Ingram) Parker lived with us in 1979. She was an art student at Illinois State University and is now a successful artist living in New Orleans. We had lost touch until last year when I saw an article about her artwork and reconnected through email. She was kind enough to come to our hotel for a visit. She has matured into a special person. What a treat to see her growth and to renew a friendship after more than 40 years.
Easter in New Orleans was not the most sacred Easter I have celebrated, but enjoying family and friends made it special.
Acts of Kindness