Thoughts on Racism (8)

Listening to Others
 
The much sought after honest national conversation on race will only be possible if it is a two-way conversation, with neither side making up the rules. Nevertheless, those who urge that majority culture be quiet so that minority voices alone may be heard have a point. Many of us need to hold our tongues and listen. However, the need to listen also raises an obvious question, which minority voices? Minority opinions, perspective and convictions are not uniform. There is as much diversity in the minority community as the majority. If we were thinking more productively we would not care about the race or sex of a particular voice but the wisdom it offers. No one cared that Jeanne Kirkpatrick (1926-2006), former ambassador to the U.N., was a woman. When she urged that we distinguish between authoritarian regimes (like Latin American dictators) and totalitarian regimes (like Marxist and Fascist governments which seek total control over every aspect of their citizens’ lives as well as world domination) she provided us with an important insight. 
 
Here are some minority voices that I wish more people would listen to. Let’s begin with Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), North Carolina born, reared in Harlem, Harvard undergraduate degree, Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, and former Marxist. Sowell, a Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, is perhaps the most brilliant scholar in America today. He is the author of over 30 books. His relatively short book, Black Rednecks and White Liberals (2005) is remarkable. Sowell, an admirer of the early Civil Rights Movement (up to the mid-1960s) is a sharp critic of the entire civil rights industry today, its race hustlers, self-appointed leaders, and failed policy proposals.
 
Shelby Steele (b. 1946), a native of Chicago, the son of founding members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Steele earned his Ph.D. in English from the University of Utah, and is another Senior Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. His book White Guilt (2006) describes how white Americans are manipulated by guilt over their racist past into supporting destructive policies pushed by liberal politicians and civil rights leaders. He collaborated with his son to produce the documentary, What Killed Michael Brown? which explodes the whole “Hands up, don’t shoot” mythology (it never happened). 
 
Walter Williams (1936-2020), born in Philadelphia and reared by his mother, Williams aggressively attacked racism while serving in the Army from 1959-1961, even to the point of court-martial. He earned a Ph.D. in economics at UCLA at a time when he describes himself as “more sympathetic to Malcom X than Martin Luther King.” He was a visiting scholar at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University. He argues in his book The State Against Blacks that “The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn’t do, and that is to destroy the black family.”
 
John McWhorter (b. 1965), a native of Philadelphia and self-identified liberal, earned his Ph.D. from Stanford University, is a professor of linguistics at Columbia University, and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He is the author of Doing Our Own Thing: The Degradation of Language and Music and Why You Should, Like, Care (2003) and Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America (2000), in which he argued that the social problems face by black Americans are not caused by racial discrimination but by factors in the black community itself: crime, breakdown of the family, disdain of education, separatism, and victimhood. Most recently he published Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America (2021) in which he criticizes the anti-racism of Ibram X. Kendi (How to Be an Antiracist) and Robin J. DiAngelo (White Fragility) as a new religion which stifles dissent and punishes heretics. 
 
Jason Riley (b. 1971) writes a weekly column for the Wall Street Journal, is a member of its editorial board and regularly serves on the discussion panel of Fox News. In 2014 he published Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed. This past year he published Maverick: A Biography of Thomas Sowell (2020). 
 
There are others as well. Larry Elder (b. 1952), was reared by southern parents (his father was a Marine Corps sergeant) in Los Angeles, and graduated from Crenshaw High School, a rival of my own Banning High. He received his undergraduate degree from Brown University and his law degree from the University of Michigan. In 2000 he won a Los Angeles Area Emmy Award for his news special Making Waves, and in 2015 he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is a popular radio talk show host and recently was a candidate for governor in California in the unsuccessful 2021 recall election of Gavin Newsom. 
 
Candace Owens (b. 1989) studied journalism at the University of Rhode Island, worked as an intern at Vogue magazine, and early in her public career was a critic of political conservatism. In 2017 she was converted to conservatism overnight and became a critic of identity politics and claims of structural racism. In 2018 Kanye West tweeted, “I love the way Candace Owens thinks.” She argued during the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings that “believe women” was the reason “our ancestors got lynched.” In 2020 she joined Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire and now hosts a podcast, Candace.  
 
For an explicitly Christian voice, the Reverend Voddie T. Baucham, Jr. (b. 1969), recently published Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelical’s Looming Catastrophe (2021). Voddie is another native of Los Angeles, a graduate of Los Angeles City Schools, and played football in college. He is a graduate of Houston Baptist University, earned his M.Div. at Southwester Baptist Theological Seminary and a D.Min. at Southeaster Baptist Theological Seminary. He is currently Dean of Theology at African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia. He is sharply critical of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality and progressive voices within evangelicalism. 
 
These are the authors whose books and articles have most influenced my understanding of racial and cultural dynamics and how those dynamics affect education, employment, marriage, family, religion, and justice. I commend them to you, not in every particular, yet together as an illuminating counterbalance to the dominant, and I think divisive and destructive conversation taking place today.
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