The purpose of the woke “antiracism” movement launched by some members of the educational, media, and political elite, together with race activists, has always been to elevate its proclaimers above other members of the elite. In other words, cultural innovation such as the “antiracism” movement is really self-promotion to gain status and power in elite venues.
Have you wondered why woke demands are continually becoming more extreme? It’s not just tearing down statues anymore—now it’s forbidden to say “man” or “woman,” “mother” or “father.” The reason for this frantic upsurge in woke cancellation is that members of the elite and race activists are competing with one another, each striving to be more “antiracist” than thou, each trying to distinguish him or herself as more woke by pushing the envelope of “racism!”
This status-seeking takes no account of the consequences for other people and for society generally. What it definitively does not do is advance the interests of those who are its alleged objects of concern, African Americans. In reality, African Americans are being thrown under the bus for the benefit of elite faux advocates.
What do the woke elite have in mind for African Americans? Black Lives Matter (BLM) has a number of demands. For example, BLM demands the destruction and demise of the nuclear family. The two-parent nuclear family is already very rare among African Americans, and most African American children grow up in single-parent homes, almost always led by mothers (oops, I mean led by female guardians, oops, can’t say “female” either), without fathers in residence. BLM says this is good: the African American community is the best home for children.
The problem with this BLM recommendation to do away with the nuclear family is that boys without dads are more likely to live in poverty, perform markedly worse in school, are more likely to take drugs, to join a gang, to engage in criminal acts, and to end up in jail. BLM is elevating a social pathology to a social policy. The woke elite is quite happy to have African Americans segregated, weak, and dependent upon them. The members of the woke elite are doing quite well, thank you.
But the BLM war against the nuclear family is secondary. It has proclaimed that its raison d’etre is to protect African Americans from the greatest threat that they face: murder at the hands of police and white nationalists. The problem with this declaration is that it’s an outright lie. In fact, very few African Americans are killed by police, and African Americans are not overrepresented if the African American crime rate is taken into account.
At the same time, African Americans are highly overrepresented as victims of shootings, murders, rapes, assaults, car jackings, and other serious violent crimes. African Americans are almost 50 percent of the murder victims, although they make up around 12 percent of the population. And it’s not police or white nationalists who are to blame. Ninety percent of African American murders are perpetrated by other African Americans. What is BLM’s solution? DEFUND THE POLICE! And white and black elites in Democrat cities jumped at the chance to virtue signal, and duly cut millions from police budgets. There was a huge spike in shootings, murders, and other violent crime. And who were the main victims? African Americans.
Why should African Americans, the population that suffers most from crime, want to see the police defunded and disbanded? Of course, they don’t want reduced police presence in their neighborhoods. African Americans know who they’re in danger from, and that blaming police and whites is a misdirection from reality. The disband the police recommendation shows that the woke elite doesn’t have the interests of African Americans at heart, but only the advancement of their own elite interests. The truth is that, for the woke elite, black political support matters, but black lives don’t matter. So, too, for woke “progressive” politicians and district attorney prosecutors in Democrat cities: black lives don’t matter enough to them to keep criminals off the street.
African Americans don’t have to depend upon BLM for bad advice; a wide range of woke members of the white educational elite are dedicated to advancing “social justice” in ways beneficial for themselves but counterproductive for African Americans.
In response to the large educational achievement gap between African Americans and others—Asian at the top; whites next; then Hispanics; African Americans at the bottom—“educators” improve their woke credentials by recommending that African Americans shouldn’t be expected to speak or write standard American English. They shouldn’t be graded at all, because grading students is “racist.” Removing all demands for achievement would be “Black Linguistic Justice,” according to our woke elite “educators.”
Are such policies going to advance the interests and opportunities of African Americans, or are they going to consign African Americans to ghettos of academic and employment failure? Critical race theory asserts that all statistical disparities between African Americans and others demonstrates racial discrimination and places the blame for this entirely on white people. It ignores the comparative success of black immigrants and the 50 years of legal and institutional discrimination in favor of African Americans, called previously “affirmative action,” and today “diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
Critical race theory doesn’t stop there. Programs for re-education have been instituted in universities, businesses, the military, government, and just about everywhere. This re-education consists of explaining to whites that they’re inherently racist, privileged, and “fragile” if they won’t admit it. All whites are inevitably “white nationalists” and “white supremacists.” “Whiteness” itself is corrupting and evil. Our far left universities started this trend, but the Democratic Party has made it a central policy. Partisan exploitation of racial accusations is a major electoral strategy of the Democratic Party, and key to their power grab.
Keep in mind that 70 percent of Americans are white, while 12 percent of Americans are African Americans. If you want to raise and intensify white identity, and encourage white nationalism and white supremacism, what would you do? Well, I think it’s a good strategy to vilify the supermajority of citizens on behalf of a minority. Force them to participate in ceremonial vilification of themselves, such as critical race re-education sessions. Segregate people on the basis of race. Discriminate against the members of the majority race. If this is not a formula for increasing white identity and white nationalism, I don’t know what is.
But when the white reaction comes, who will suffer from the push back? I would like to think that the anti-white elites would be abandoned and rejected, but I fear that ordinary African American citizens will be the ones who suffer. And they’ve already suffered enough at the hands of self-seeking elites.
Philip Carl Salzman is professor emeritus of anthropology at McGill University, Quebec, Canada.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.