I just ran across this article: “Antiracism, Our Flawed New Religion.” Although it was written nearly four years ago, it could have been written today. It’s still as relevant — maybe more relevant — than ever. The writer, John McWhorter, is a professor at Columbia and black man, and I find him to be one of the best thinkers and writers on race in the country.
One reason is that he simply doesn’t follow any party line. He makes up his own mind on issues, and doesn’t care what others think he should believe based on race. That means he probably gets hammered pretty hard from time to time. It comes with the territory. He’s liberal on some ideas, conservative on others. He’s refreshing, really smart, and someone you should be paying attention to.
Anyway, here’s the key point in the article; the “sermon in a sentence,” as my pastor would say:
“… in 2015, among educated Americans especially, Antiracism—it seriously merits capitalization at this point—is now what any naïve, unbiased anthropologist would describe as a new and increasingly dominant religion. It is what we worship, as sincerely and fervently as many worship God and Jesus and, among most Blue State Americans, more so.”
The current high priest of this religion is identified as Ta-Nehisi Coates, one of America’s most influential and public voices on racial issues. Coates is fully behind the reparations movement, which is gaining a lot of traction in the nation at the moment.
There are many facets of the reparations debate, but they’ll be for future blog posts. For now, I want to get to the most disturbing aspect of the antiracism religion that McWhorter points out: the stifling of debate. He writes:
“One is not to question, and people can be quite explicit about that. For example, in the “Conversation” about race that we are so often told we need to have, the tacit idea is that black people will express their grievances and whites will agree—again, no questions, or at least not real ones.”
I rebel strongly at any suggestion that we can’t discuss important issues. It’s becoming more prevalent in our society, especially on college campuses — you know, the place where ideas are supposed to be debated, and students are supposed to be taught how to evaluate arguments and come to solid conclusions based on reasoning and evidence.
My novel, Black Preacher in a White Town, has discussions about many sensitive topics — including whether or not white kids can use the “N-word” at a rap concert while a black kid standing next to them can freely use it. That’s just one example. If we can’t discuss things without fear of being demonized, we’re losing our way. But more and more, I see it happening. There are just some topics that can’t be discussed, or risk being branded an apostate.
I’d recommend reading Prof. McWhorter’s entire article, and anything else he writes. I also recommend reading what Coates writes. Get all sides of an issue. Listen to the arguments. Decide which ones you agree with or disagree with, and why.
Just don’t tell me that there are certain topics that are off-limits for me. Free speech is our most precious right in America. It must be protected at all costs.