Mark Tapson is the Shillman Fellow on Popular Culture for the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
Recently I called out a female “person of color” on Twitter for the blatant anti-white racism she was proudly exhibiting in her tweets. A white female ally of hers chimed in, chastising me for not knowing that “people of color can’t be racist.” I needed to educate myself about racism, she insisted. This is a common refrain in these times of even more racial unrest and sensitivity than usual: that white Americans need to educate themselves about the racism that Barack Obama declared is inherent in their DNA. They need to educate themselves about their white privilege, their white rage, and their white fragility which makes them touchy about being called racists. Like counter-revolutionaries who need “re-education,” they need to understand, accept, and publicly acknowledge their deep complicity in an evil system.
According to the left, in our white supremacist nation only whites can be racist because they control the culture’s power structures and therefore only they can impose “systemic racism.” Non-whites, conversely, are helpless victims of the system and therefore cannot be racist. This false oppressor/oppressed dynamic has been promoted so long and so effectively that open bigotry toward whites has reached peak cultural and political acceptability now, whereas any perceived racial “insensitivity” toward non-whites, such as the myth of cultural appropriation, incurs the unforgiving wrath of the internet mob (and of actual mobs).
Black Lives Matter icon and Nike spokesperson Colin Kaepernick, for example, who sparked the whole trend of protesting during national anthems at sporting events, can encourage rioting and looting without fear of losing his multimillion-dollar endorsements. Indeed, it only enhances his cultural cachet. But let white quarterback Drew Brees state publicly and innocuously that he refuses to disrespect the Stars and Stripes by taking a knee, and he and his wife are forced – shades of the Chinese Cultural Revolution – to debase themselves in apology for their incorrect thinking.
To help white oppressors educate themselves about their racism, the media lately has been helpfully providing lists of recommending reading with which to deprogram themselves. As of this writing, for example, the audiobook giant Audible, a division of Amazon, has a banner at the top of its website with a link to “An Anti-Racism Reading List.” Below that are three links to articles about the black experience and black literature, including a reading list of audiobooks on race for children, titled “Listens for Raising an Anti-Racist” – because it’s never too early to start inculcating the blank slates of young American minds that they are either suffering from, or inflicting, racial oppression, depending on their skin color.
Amazon itself has a web page of “Anti-Racism Books to Read Right Now,” written by an Amazon editor who appears, in the accompanying photo, to be a young white woman. (Wouldn’t that mean she is “whitesplaining” racism? Doesn’t Amazon have a black editor?)
The New York Times predictably offered up recent anti-racism reading lists too: one for kids from earlier this month which insists that “the conversation about race needs to start early and keep happening,” [emphasis added] and one for adults from last year, “to help America transcend its racist heritage.” In fact, America’s heritage is “freedom,” not racism, but that truth doesn’t help further the prevailing multiculturalist Narrative that Western history is one long saga of racial exploitation.
Esquire, the men’s style magazine for smug young progressive metrosexuals, just happened to offer up its own anti-racism reading list. Men’s Health magazine also. Not to be outdone by the guys, the women’s magazines Elle and Good Housekeeping did the same. New York magazine posted a list. So did TIME magazine. England’s The Guardian chimed in with one. Buzzfeed News as well. The Goodreads book review site. Prevention health magazine online. Barnes and Noble. Forbes. USA Today. Innumerable lesser-known sites. All in the same first week of June. Gosh, it’s almost as if there were a coordinated effort by the media…
There isn’t a single book among these lists, that I can discern, written by a black conservative or by any author with a perspective on our racial divide that runs contrary to postmodern, leftist dogma (such as David Horowitz, whose 1999 book Hating Whitey and Other Progressive Causes surely belongs). So, white readers are not being recommended books that run the gamut of views on racial issues, which is how one theoretically should be educated on any topic, but only ones in which white supremacy is the assumed status quo in America and which promote the cultural Marxist view that “people of color” are everywhere and always the victims of oppressive European capitalists. And the push worked, because CNN reported recently that 15 of the top 20 current bestsellers are about race, racism and white supremacy. “Educating yourself on the history and current state of racism is one way to show positive allyship,” CNN explained to white readers.
Ironically, some of the suggested titles in the aforementioned reading lists are about the civil rights movement of the 1960s, a movement that generally promoted color-blind racial equality. That is not the aim of today’s push for racial “justice,” which requires that we treat all races differently, that we all maintain a never-ending tribal consciousness and obsessively pick at the scabs of the past. Color-blindness – judging each other by the content of our character rather than our skin color – is now considered racism.
But it isn’t enough for whites to fill their bookshelves with contemporary works on racial oppression. They must also un-learn their whiteness by “de-colonizing” their bookshelves –ridding themselves of the toxic, narrow worldview of such literary giants as William Shakespeare and Winston Churchill.
In a recent article for National Public Radio (NPR) called “Your Bookshelf May Be Part Of The Problem,” Juan Vidal takes white people to task for the racial “homogeneity” of their personal library. All those white authors on your bookshelf “have influence[d] your worldview” and affected “how you process the issues of racism and prejudice toward the disenfranchised.” It is essentially “listening to an extension of your own voice on repeat.” It never seems to occur to progressives that reading only black authors – or female, or trans, or whatever identity politics category you choose – would produce the same limited worldview; only white authors are the problem.
“[W]hite voices have dominated what has been considered canon for eons,” Vidal complains, so he urges white people to “decolonize your bookshelf,” which “is about actively resisting and casting aside the colonialist ideas of narrative, storytelling, and literature that have pervaded the American psyche for so long.” Perhaps Vidal hasn’t taken a college literature course for decades, because as far back as my own college classes in the early ‘80s we were assigned novelists like Tony Morrison and Ralph Ellison and Harlem Renaissance poets like Jean Toomer and Langston Hughes. Vidal and his fellow progressives behind these reading lists assume that white readers not only have never read any black authors but that they actively seek out only white authors. This is condescending at best and racist at worst, but that’s the poison of identity politics: the collectivist assumption that all members of a race hold the same perspective on the world and have essentially the same lived experiences.
Not that educating ourselves and decolonizing our bookshelves will solve anything. After all, according to the mind-bending, circular reasoning of the Critical Race Theory that has been infecting the culture for decades, no amount of education, effort, and abasement can ever completely cleanse whites of their racism. The effort to do so, however, must be made, so that overcoming white guilt is a perpetual but pointless process, like Sisyphus condemned eternally to pushing a boulder uphill only to have it roll back down, and then to start all over again.
Racial tensions and racism itself are not eradicated by stoking more racial tensions and racism. That should go without saying, but we live in a time in which, to paraphrase Orwell, our first duty is to restate the obvious. The political left isn’t interested in easing racial tensions or eradicating racism, however – quite the opposite. The progressive race-mongers don’t want the racial equality and justice they incessantly demand. Their aim is to seize and hold all power. Their strategy is always to divide and conquer – the haves against the have-nots, the patriarchy against women, whites against blacks. The left needs the people to buy into these Narratives, or it will have no power at all.