Last week, I was browsing my Facebook feed when I saw that one of my friends had posted a link to an article entitled, “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism.” I clicked on the link with a horrified sense of intrigue. I wasn’t sure what to expect from an academic study of racism. Unfortunately, the results boded ill for racial equality in America.
The author of “White Fragility,” Dr. Robin DiAngelo, specializes in Whiteness Studies and Critical Discourse Analysis at Westfield State University in Massachusetts. Prominent publications including NPR, Slate, Salon, Alternet, and The Seattle Times have featured her work. Given her academic prominence, we can safely assume that her views reflect the typical political discourse at higher places of learning.
Racism Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means
In her essay, Dr. DiAngelo rejects the traditional understanding of racism as individual prejudice and intentional actions. The racist is no longer a person who hates and harms other people because of their ethnicity. Instead, she defines racism as a system that ensures an unequal distribution of resources among racial groups. Societies are racist when they give more advantages to some races than to others. That is why Dr. DiAngelo and other academic leaders can say without any sense of irony, “All whites are racist.” She believes in collective guilt: holding an entire people accountable for the crimes of a few.
Dr. DiAngelo has distorted the concept of racism to the point that it becomes classism: discrimination against individuals based on their social status. Combining two different concepts into the same word promises to cause chaos, but her mistake runs deeper than that. Dr. DiAngelo has actually introduced the Marxist narrative into racial politics.
Marxism teaches that inequality results from an unequal distribution of resources. The upper classes (the “bourgeoisie”) control the majority of the world’s resources, so they dominate the lower classes (the “proletariat”). Dr. DiAngelo simply replaces the bourgeoisie and proletariat with whites and blacks. Her so-called “racial studies” advance all the major tenets of Marxism under a different label.
Marxism by Any Other Name…is Still Marxism
First, Dr. DiAngelo joins Marx in establishing collective guilt. In his writings, Karl Marx assigned the guilt of crimes against the working class to all members of the upper classes, regardless of the actual degree of individual involvement. Lenin did something similar with landlords in Russia, while Pol Pot targeted with anybody with an education in Cambodia. The concept of collective racial guilt has already infected politics in America. Black Lives Matter, most notably, accuses all police officers of racism in the wake of individual abuses.
Second, both Marxism and the new classist racism encourage violence. In the original Communist Manifesto, Marx argued that the oppressed can only achieve equality – that is, an equal distribution of resources – through violent revolution. The mayor of Baltimore echoed Marx last year when she instructed the police to give rioters “who wish to destroy space to do that.” While she claimed that a hostile press had misinterpreted her comments, it is hard to deny that she was tacitly endorsing politically motivated violence. Under the new definition of racism, the mayor’s strategy would qualify as helpful, since violence is the only certain means of ending inequality.
Far from being a radicalized, minority view, Dr. DiAngelo’s classist racism finds expression in the biggest platform in the country: the presidential pulpit. President Obama rarely misses an opportunity to remind Americans of their collective responsibility for racist incidents past and present. He cannot even eulogize police officers killed by radicalized Black Lives Matter members without adding that the police need to engage in “soul searching” for their role in inspiring the violence. It is not coincidental that President Obama received his education at a liberal university.
It Will Get Bad Before It Gets Worse
As further evidence of growing Marxist sentiment in America, Black Lives Matter recently released a policy platform including a demand for economic justice. The platform declares that we must restructure our economy to ensure black communities have collective ownership, not merely access. This idea perfectly parallels Mao’s and Lenin’s goals for their revolutions.
Redefining racism as classism will tear America apart. People of different races cannot live and work together if our universities teach that minorities must use violence against whites as a group to achieve equality. By importing Marxism into American racial politics, Dr. DiAngelo and her ilk ensure that the conflict will never resolve, merely intensify. If she truly wants to see an end to racism in America, she would be well served by focusing on individual crimes instead of condemning the white race.