Culture Wars/Current Controversies

The Woke: On The Wrong Side Of History

By Andrew Sullivan Weekly Dish

We need a racial politics for 2119, not 1619. Latinos will lead the way.

Of all the acronyms, euphemisms and sophisms pioneered by critical theory, one of the most revealing is the term “black and brown people.” You hear it all the time now. Whether it’s about “the lack of Black and brown representation in Hollywood,” vaccine hesitancy in “Black and brown neighborhoods in large cities,” the right to vote for “Black and brown people,” or “allyship between Black and brown people,” the “B&b” formula is now yet another ubiquitous media virtue-signal. It’s subtler than some others. It doesn’t shriek woke like “BIPOC”; it isn’t as instantly risible as “2SLGBTQIA+”; it gives “Black” a Capital Letter, and “brown” feels a bit like a lower-case add-on — but at least it uses actual English words, and doesn’t end in an X.

Still: what does it tell you that a staggering and brilliant array of totally different ethnicities, races, religions, histories and cultures can now routinely be reduced to just two drab colors?

I think it speaks to two things. The first is that today’s antiracism paradoxically requires the crudest of racist categories to justify and explain itself. A whole kaleidoscope of immigrant difference — from Kurds and Mexicans and Somalis to Dominicans, Chileans, Nigerians, and Pakistanis — has now been turned into one monochrome racial “brown” — just to fit into an oppressor/oppressed, white/black narrative.


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