Culture Wars/Current Controversies

How to Be a Better—and Less Fragile—Antiracist

This a pretty good critique of “anti-racism” theorists like Robin D’Angelo and Ibram X. Kendi from what could be called a non-racist, conservative-libertarian, classical liberal perspective.

By Peter Minowitz, Independent Institute

When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something, to say something, and not be quiet.
—Congressman John Lewis

Professors typically lament the damage President Trump has caused by exaggerating, stereotyping, and demonizing. The ones who drift into activism, however, are not immune to these discursive disorders. I shall explore this problem by scrutinizing two bestsellers: How To Be an Antiracist (One World, 2019) by Ibram X. Kendi and White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism (Beacon Press, 2018) by Robin DiAngelo. The authors are already national icons, they extol each other’s work, and their books are being assigned widely within America’s campuses and businesses.

White Fragility falls short as scholarship along three dimensions: it stereotypes wantonly, it makes major empirical errors, and it projects contempt toward important challenges that the author’s messages will provoke.

Kendi’s book is more informative. By illuminating the diverse ways that racism has, for centuries, tormented African-Americans and shaped our country, Antiracist is also more wrenching. Unlike DiAngelo, Kendi avoids pigeonholing views based on the identities of their adherents, and he is careful not to generalize about white people. Even Kendi, however, is sometimes dogmatic, especially when prescribing remedies.


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