Let’s play a game. It’s a simple game. You have to decide whether the following statements were made by David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the KKK, or the National Museum of African American History and Culture, a project of the Smithsonian Institution.
Should be easy, right?
Let’s find out.
Whiteness stands for “rugged individualism,” and the notion that “independence and autonomy” are “highly valued.” Whiteness stands for “the nuclear family” in which children should “be independent.” Whiteness stands for “objective, rational linear thinking,” values “cause and effect relationships” and “quantitative emphasis,” and places “emphasis on scientific method.”
Whiteness says that “hard work is the key to success” and that you ought to “work before play.” Whiteness represents “plan[ning] for the future,” “delayed gratification,” and a belief in progress.
Whiteness places value on being on time; on English common law traditions; on protection for private property; on intent as an element of crime. Whiteness is all about “decision-making” and “majority rules” and “do[ing] something” about a situation” and “be[ing] #1.”
If you answered David Duke to any of these questions, sorry, you lose.
Every single one of these statements comes from the NMAAHC, from a document titled “Aspects and Assumptions of Whiteness and White Culture in the United States.”
According to the NMAAHC, “White dominant culture, or whiteness, refers to the ways white people and their traditions, attitudes and ways of life have been normalized over time and are now considered standard practices in the United States. And since white people still hold most of the institutional power in America, we have all internalized some aspects of white culture – including people of color.”
If all of this seems insane, that’s because it is.
But only if you use supposedly “white” qualities like “objective, rational linear thinking.”
So why in the world would an institution dedicated to the honoring and uplift of black Americans reject such obvious goods as the scientific method, data-driven analysis, rational thinking, the nuclear family, had work, individualism, delayed gratification, private property, and principles of individual justice as aspects of nefarious “whiteness”?
Isn’t that inherently derogatory toward black Americans, the vast majority of whom both agree with all of these principles and implement them in their daily lives?
The answer lies in the absurd and disgusting redefinition of “racism” itself by “anti-racist” thinkers like Ibram X. Kendi (and knockoff product Robin DiAngelo). Kendi argues that racism isn’t a belief in the inherent superior or inferiority of a particular race. It is instead an embedded system that results in racial inequality.
In Kendi’s view, any system that results in inequality is racist, and any complicity in that system is similarly racist — silence is violence! Thus, anti-racism means opposition to such systems.
Kendi explains, “To be antiracist is to reject cultural standards and level cultural difference. Segregationists say racial groups cannot reach their superior cultural standard. Assimilations say racial groups can, with effort and intention, reach their superior cultural standards.” In fact, says Kendi, “‘Civilization’ is often a polite euphemism for cultural racism.”
By conflating “culture” with “racism,” Kendi indicts systems that produce progress, wealth, and happiness – but that, like all free systems, also result in inequalities.
The American system established by the Declaration of Independence — a system that sinned grievously against black Americans in slavery and Jim Crow by failing to uphold those standards, but that sought self-correction over far too long a period of time — has made black Americans the richest and most powerful black people on the planet.
The very systems Kendi indicts as hallmarks of a “culturally racist” system — hard work, individualism, family structure, thinking about the future, delayed gratification — are the systems that have generated unprecedented wealth for black Americans.
In essence, then, the NMAAHC isn’t merely rejecting good ideas as racist. It is damning black Americans to lack of success by pushing against the very paths to success that have allowed black Americans to thrive.
By characterizing such pathways as “assimilationism” as “whiteness,” so-called anti-racist thinkers make life worse for black Americans.
How does rejecting family structure make black lives better? It doesn’t. Single motherhood is the single greatest reason for income inequality.
How does rejecting “hard work” pay off for black Americans? It doesn’t.
How does evading the scientific method provide an avenue of uplift for black Americans? It doesn’t.
All it does is provide impetus to greater suffering and greater inequality — all of which can then be used as ammunition in the war against the system Kendi decries. By failing to participate — and then falling short as a result — the system remains the enemy.
And that’s the point, not making life better for anyone.
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