Critical race theory is the whitest thing

OPINION: The backlash against diversity, critical race theory and “wokeness” is not anti-Black. It’s even whiter than that.

Yorba Linda, CA, Tuesday, November 16, 2021 - The Placentia Yorba Linda School Board discusses a proposed resolution to ban teaching critical race theory in schools. Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Kang Killer is my favorite. 

Whether you are employed as a network television actor, a politician, or a local weatherperson who prefers to wear your hair the way it grows out of your head, being a Black person in a public-facing position comes with the implicit agreement to subject oneself to vile, outlandishly racist hate. Reading grammatically incorrect n-word-laced DMs on social media might not be in the job description but it is always part of the job. 

Kang Killer is one of my semi-regular emailers. He pretends to be Black by sprinkling jargon like “steez” and “nahmean” in his lengthy biweekly messages explaining why anti-racism, “wokeness” or even being pro-Black is divisive and anti-white. Kang Killer is just one of many people who take time out of their not-so-busy life to send grammatically incorrect diatribes about why Black people are “THE REAL RACISTS.” There’s one guy who DMs the n-word occasionally and another who simply sends an email with the words “RACE HUCKSTER about three times a week. (The all-caps key is like seasoned salt for semiliterate racists.) 

Kang Killer is my favorite email stalker because he hates everything about Black people (I know what you’re thinking but I assume Clarence Thomas and Jason Whitlock like their parents). But the thing I love most about Kang Killer is that he can’t seem to hold it inside.

Although I have never had the desire to be equal to anyone who can stomach the sound of Black people’s humanity being squished under the wheels of white supremacy like speedbumps on a superhighway, I must admit that I find these aggrieved white power rangers to be fascinating. I marvel at Kang Killer’s ability to ignore history, facts and reality. I respect the unwavering infallibility of their brainwashing; their sheer allegiance to whiteness.

Most of all, I admire their ability to hate.

I love Black people. But even when my heart is overflowing with syrupy-sweet affection for people of African descent, I will never be able to match the unimpeachable fervor required by those so devoted to their perceived supremacy that they are compelled to share their unpunctuated hate in capital letters. I find Tucker Carlson detestable — but not enough to scour the internet for his email address and give him a piece of my mind. The adherents of unapologetic whiteness, however, cannot hold it inside.

For instance, there is an inexhaustible supply of studies that prove bias exists in the medical field. Black newborns are three times more likely to die when cared for by white doctors. The Black maternal mortality rate is nearly three times the white rate. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, forty percent of first and second-year medical students endorsed the belief that “Black people’s skin is thicker than white people’s”; half believed that Black people are more tolerant of pain and a meta-analysis of 20 years of research concluded that pediatricians are less likely to prescribe pain medicine to Black children. 

Yet, when it comes to eliminating these disparities, the pro-white journalists at the Wall Street Journal think that medical schools teaching prospective physicians to be less biased is a bad idea.

“America faces a looming and severe doctor shortage as baby boomers retire,” writes the Journal’s editorial board. “It won’t help attract prospective doctors to tell top students they must attend to their guilt as racial and political oppressors before they can diagnose your cancer.” It is hard for a rational-thinking human being to comprehend why any rational-thinking human being would want more people to die. Yet the Journal’s main concern seems to be that learning about things that actually make people sick might result in a less politically or racially oppressive medical field. 

Isn’t that the whole point?

Similarly, it is hard for a rational-thinking human being to comprehend why people would be upset that Montpelier, the historical home of James Madison will now include the story of the enslaved people who built, maintained and farmed the land. To be clear, James Madison has no descendants and the governing board for the site voted to share governance with descendants of the Black people who outnumbered the white people who lived there. More importantly, they are not erasing Madison’s family history; they are adding to it. 

Why would anyone advocate for less inclusion? Who wants less information? What kind of person prefers to go through life with their eyes closed?

You know who.

Perhaps this is the difference between Blackness and whiteness. Ultimately, the point of pro-Blackness is to assert one’s humanity in the presence of whiteness. The goal of whiteness, however, is to eliminate the presence of everything that is not white. Not only is it rapacious, it is subtractive—it does not seek to build; it only seeks to destroy. Although we live in a country built partly upon the superiority of a people who exported genocide to every land mass on the planet, it’s important to understand that the right-wing hullabaloo over “wokeness” has nothing to do with protecting whiteness. Critical race theory existed in academia for three decades before white legislators proposed an anti-CRT. Black people were warning each other to  “stay woke” in song, speeches and in person for 80 years before white people began the anti-woke campaign. This collective right-wing backlash has as much to do with Black people as war has to do with peace. 

And that is why whiteness is so amazing.

Because whiteness is why pro-Blackness exists. Whiteness is why anti-racism exists. Whiteness is why critical race theory exists. Black people wouldn’t need to “stay woke” if white supremacy hadn’t lulled this country to sleep. The best legal institutions in America wouldn’t teach critical race theory if the laws were not racist. If oppression didn’t affect Black people’s health, universities wouldn’t rearrange centuries-old medical curriculums to teach students about systems of oppression. If America’s institutions were diverse, equitable or inclusive, they wouldn’t have to create departments for diversity, equity and inclusion. If racism weren’t so pervasive, How to Be an Antiracist would probably be on the Wall Street Journal’s “Worst Seller” list.

Whiteness is amazing because it is a supernatural phenomenon that can spontaneously generate itself into existence. If I stopped typing words into computers for the rest of my life, Kang Killer would not stop hating Black people. If Ibram X. Kendi, Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Montpelier Descendents Committee, Barack Obama, the Squad, Al Sharpton, the NAACP, medical schools, books and the collective history of the universe suddenly imploded into the ether, never to darken the face of the earth again, racism still would not cease to exist. 

Instead, whiteness would manufacture an adversary out of thin air and immediately find a reason why it must be destroyed. And anyone who doesn’t believe this must first show me the fourth-grade social studies class where students can learn complex legal theory, or the promising young medical student who’s willing to dissect a cadaver, perform a manual prostate exam and squirt the juice out of a puss-filled legion—but just can’t stomach learning about racism. 

The most incredible attribute of a racist is the ability to hate things that do not exist. 

And that is the whitest thing of all.

Michael Harriot

Michael Harriot is a writer, championship-level Spades player and host of theGrio Daily. His book, Black AF History: The Unwhitewashed Story of America, will be released in 2023.

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