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How anti-racism became a religion and stopped helping black people

Manifestantes participam de protesto no aniversário de um ano da morte de George Floyd, em Miami, Flórida, EUA, em 25 de maio de 2021.
Protesters participate in protest on the one-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd, in Miami, Florida, USA, in 25 from May of 2021.

| Photo: EFE / EPA / CRISTOBAL HERRERA-ULASHKEVICH

“In racist society, it is not enough not to be racist. You have to be anti-racist.” If the famous phrase by American activist Angela Davis, a former member of the Communist Party of the United States at the time of the civil rights movements, was just an appeal to identify behaviors and cultural traits remaining in societies marked by racial slavery – such as Brazil and the United States – which continues to have concrete effects in the lives of black people, the fair fight against racism was perhaps not immersed in so many controversies.

In the 21st century, however, the term “anti-racism” has less to do with staunch opposition to discrimination and more to do with a kind of profession of faith, according to which the racism is the only explanation for the most complex social problems and white people are invariably privileged and fragile. Anyone who dares to disagree with the premise that racial prejudice is as innate and inevitable as a genetic trait, or simply seeks to add nuance to the discussion, is invariably “cancelled” by racism and runs the risk of having their reputation burned by the networks’ courts. No wonder linguist John McWorther, a professor at Columbia University, classifies the set of practices that mark what he calls the “Third Anti-Racist Wave” as a new religion.

In his recently released “Woke Racism: How a New Religion has Betrayed Black America” (“Woke Racism: How a New Religion Betrayed Black America,” in free translation), still no translation into Portuguese, McWorther, columnist and author best-seller

from The New York Times, argues that the anti-racist militancy that has emerged in the last decade operates not in the mold of a social cause that benefits its target audience, but of a credo based on unquestionable dogma (which makes their divergents are treated as heretics) and a select caste of priests whose cathartic sermons do no more than instill primary emotions and conduct rituals of atonement.

Incisive and ironic, McWorther has no qualms about using, for example, the very canceled “denigration” (“carefully chosen word”, he adds) and warns, from the beginning, that many of his peers will see him as a “traitor” by for the sake of the work, even though it seeks to treat activists with generosity amidst the sting.” We need not assume that all anti-racists do this cynically. Listen to that family member, neighbor or co-worker you know who thinks like that and ask yourself if they really give any indication of being desperate for power. The Third Wave anti-racist genuinely hates racism, like most of us,” he argues. “We must understand them—partly out of compassion and partly to keep them from destroying our lives. This can only happen if we understand them not as lunatics, but as fervent religionists.”

Here, a critique of the linguist’s formulations is appropriate: McWorther is avowedly atheist and progressive and, although these attributes do not invalidate his arguments, when comparing the anti-racist creed with the Judeo-Christian faith, the author slips by putting it in the same basket the dogmas of anti-racism and the “inexplicable beliefs” of religious people. The comparison between identity guidelines and religions is not unprecedented and is well founded, but McWorther would be more understandable if he made the effort to demarcate the difference between “common” religious and fanatics, for example.

The religion of anti-racism 09192548

That said, McWorther’s critique of the “elected” refers to the writings of the economist Thomas Sowell (whom the linguist weaves praise) in his “The Anointed

”: “What a view can offer, and what the prevailing view of our time emphatically offers, is a special state of grace for those who believe in it. (…) In other words, those who disagree with the prevailing view are seen not only as mistaken, but as sinners. For those who hold this view of the world, the anointed and the fledgling do not debate on the same moral level or play by the same cold rules of logic and s evidence”.

For his part, McWorther enumerates the parallels: na A religion of anti-racism, the “original sin” is “white frailty”, theorized by “priestess” Robin DiAngelo. Beside her is historian Ibram X. Kendi — voted one of Time Magazine’s Most Influential People 2020, yet he deliberately refuses to debate even with left-wing black activists who disagree with his theses — and writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, who said he feels no pity for the police and firefighters killed at the World Trade Center, since the police would be a “threat of nature.”

Again, the linguist struggles to find a common ground: “Yes, I believe that being white in America automatically includes certain undeclared privileges in terms of a sense of belonging. Authority figures are the same colors as you. You are considered to be within the standard. You’re not subject to stereotypes.” The problem, says McWorther, is what to do about this condition.

“The elected must ritually ‘recognise’ that they have white privileges, with the awareness that they can never be absolved from it. (…) Forget (f*ck you?) civility or even the logic — it all revolves around how you feel and specifically how much you hate the ruling order,” quips the author, describing school meetings in New York at which attendees sing extracts from DiAngelo’s “White Fragility” , and “How to Be an Antiracist” by Kendi, “as if they were epistles of St. Peter”. A ritual scene is described by the linguist: “Think of this type, stating ‘Oh, I know I’m privileged!’ while raising his hands in the air, palms out, like a Pentecostal.”

Reduction of inequality09192548 At the end of the work, McWorther proposes three measures that, according to him, can benefit black communities in the United States concretely: the decriminalization of drugs, teaching children to read through the phonic literacy method — based on phoneme identification and demonstrably superior to the “global” method, in which the child memorizes the meaning of the entire word — and, finally , the propagation of the idea that not everyone needs to go to college to have a dignified life, which would encourage the appreciation of technical education and other gateways to the labor market.

Of course the first point, embraced so much by the left As much as by libertarians and some currents of liberals, it is open to debate: the end of the drug war does not necessarily lead to a reduction in violence in poor areas. The other two, however, are in fact reasonably simple recipes that, far from solving all the problems arising from inequality (among them, racism), represent a more relevant step than the rituals of the “elected”. Whether or not you agree with all the points, Woke Racism8013427047001 deserves to be read and publicized above all for its precise description of a seductive “faith” from which one can only be saved through an unshakable belief in reality.

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