The Woke War Against African Americans

Editor’s Note: A shorter version of this essay was originally published by The Epoch Times on March 16, 2021.


The purpose of the woke “antiracism” movement launched by some members of the educational, media, and political elite, together with race activists, has always been to elevate its proclaimers above other members of the elite. In other words, cultural innovation such as the “antiracism” movement is really self-promotion to gain status and power in elite venues.

Have you wondered why woke requirements and cancel culture become more extreme by the week, by the day? First statues of Confederate generals, then statues of Abraham Lincoln. Saying “All lives matter” to being a Trump voter. Books with the N word, such as Huckleberry Finn, then Dr. Seuss, then Dumbo and Peter Pan. From being a self-proclaimed “white supremacist” to just being white, to having evil “whiteness.” Now it is forbidden to say “man” or “woman,” “mother” or “father.” And, of course, “white supremacist” literature such as Homer and Shakespeare is canceled.

The reason for this frantic upsurge in woke cancellation is that members of the elite and race activists are competing with one another, each striving to be more “antiracist” than thou, each trying to distinguish himself as more woke by pushing the envelope of “racism!” This status-seeking takes no account of the consequences for other people and for society generally. What it definitively does not do is advance the interests of those who are its alleged objects of concern: “people of color,” especially African Americans. In fact, the movement is detrimental to African Americans, who in reality are thrown under the bus for the benefit of elite faux advocates.

What do the woke elite have in mind for African Americans? The self-proclaimed Marxist masters of Black Lives Matter have a number of demands. And whatever BLM says must be followed. Just about every university president in America has declared fealty to BLM, and our corporate aristocracy has sent it tens of millions of dollars. BLM, other than having the best slogan of the 21st century, must have the best interests of the African American community at heart, or at least that is what everyone seems to think. So, what is it that BLM demands?

One thing that BLM demands is the destruction of the nuclear family. Here BLM is in tune with reality, for the two-parent nuclear family is very rare among African Americans. By far most African American children grow up in single-parent homes, almost always led by mothers, oops, I mean by female guardians, oops, can’t say “female” either. Most African American boys grow up without fathers in residence. BLM says this is not a problem; the African American community is the best home for children.

The problem with this demand is that boys without dads are more likely to live in economic poverty, to perform markedly worse in school, take drugs, to join a gang, to engage in criminal acts, and to end up in jail. BLM is elevating a social pathology to a social policy. Is this because the nuclear family is the norm in white families, and so African Americans should reject it as “whiteness”? Two-parent families are even more prevalent among Asians of all origins, who are today among the most successful people in America, not because they are “people of color” or “adjacent white,” but because their culture emphasizes family values and educational achievement. But BLM doesn’t want any of that for African Americans. As members of the African American elite, BLM is quite happy to have African Americans segregated, weak, and dependent upon them. The members of the BLM elite are doing quite well, thank you. The leaders of BLM received tens of millions of corporate dollars; Ibram X. Kendi made at least three hundred thousand dollars from lecturing about how racist America is; and Robin DiAngelo sold eight hundred thousand copies of White Fragility, from which she has probably received in royalties over two million dollars.

But the BLM war against the nuclear family is secondary in its identity. It has proclaimed that its raison d’etre is to protect African Americans from the greatest threat that they face: murder at the hands of police and white nationalists. This, they say, is a threat facing each and every African American every time he leaves his home, or even when he stays at home. “Say her name!” The problem with this declaration is that it does not correspond to the facts; in other words, it is an outright lie. The facts are that very few African Americans are killed by police, and African Americans are not overrepresented in being killed once the African American crime rate is taken into account.

At the same time, African Americans are highly overrepresented as victims of shootings, murders, rapes, assaults, car jackings, and other serious violent crimes. African Americans are almost 50% of the murder victims, although they make up around 13% of the population. But it is not police or white nationalists who are to blame. Ninety percent of African American murders are perpetrated by other African Americans. In short—although it is now regarded as “racist” to say this—the greatest violent threat to African Americans is African American criminals. And African American criminals are equal opportunity criminals: they also rob, assault, shoot, and murder whites, Hispanics, Jews, Asians, and the police.

What is Black Lives Matter’s solution to this faux problem of murderous police and whites? We have all heard it: DEFUND THE POLICE! White and black elites in Democrat-run cities jumped at the chance to virtue signal, duly cutting millions from police budgets. They had already hamstrung police in the face of riots, looting, arson, assault, and murder, and then cut their funding and disbanded their special anti-crime units, e.g., the New York plain clothes anti-crime unit. Many police went on leave, retired, or quit, leaving the most challenged cities undermanned and under-policed. Then there was a huge spike in shootings, murders, and other violent crime. And who were the main victims? African Americans.

Defunding the police is great news for criminals, but bad news for African Americans. Why should African Americans, the population that suffers most from crime, want to see the police defunded and disbanded? The answer, of course, is that they do not want a reduction in police presence in their neighborhoods, and many want to an increased police presence. African Americans know who is dangerous and that blaming police and whites is a misdirection from reality. The disband-the-police recommendation shows that the BLM elite does not have the interests of African Americans at heart, but only the advancement of their own elite interests. The truth is that, for the BLM elite, black political support matters, but black lives don’t matter.

So too for woke “progressive” politicians and District Attorney prosecutors in Democrat cities; black lives do not matter enough to them to keep criminals off the street. With the financial support of George Soros, politicians cancel cash bail and send indicted people, including those accused of violent crimes, back out into society. Radically woke prosecutors refuse to prosecute criminals and prefer to release them. Politicians, with the flimsiest of excuses, open jail doors and release criminals into society. Sanctuary cities and states refuse to hand illegal alien criminals over to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, but instead release them into the law-abiding population so that they can reoffend without hindrance. For these officials, too, black lives already suffering in high-crime zones do not matter; indeed, these woke officials appear to care only about criminals, and the others’ lives do not matter.

African Americans do not have to depend upon BLM for bad advice; a wide range of woke members of the white educational elite are dedicated to advancing “social justice” in ways beneficial for themselves but counterproductive for African Americans. In response to the large educational achievement gap between African Americans and others—Asian at the top; whites next; then Hispanics; African Americans at the bottom—woke “educators” improve their woke credentials by recommending that African Americans should not be expected to speak or write standard American English. They should not be graded on the quality of their work; that would be “racist.” They should be graded on their effort, or, better, not graded at all, because grading students is “racist.” Removing all demands for achievement would be “Black Linguistic Justice,” according to our woke elite “educators.” Are such policies going to advance the interests and opportunities of African Americans, or are they going to consign African Americans to ghettos of academic and employment failure? These policies are the bigotry of low expectations on steroids. Getting rid of achievement standards does not close the gap—it just hides it. How will that work out in the real competitive world of higher education and employment?

Critical race theory asserts that all statistical disparities between African Americans and others, in which African Americans do comparatively poorly in relation to Asians, black Nigerian immigrants, black Caribbean immigrants, Jews, whites, and Hispanics, demonstrates racial discrimination, and places the blame for this entirely on white people. Against this alleged anti-black discrimination is the comparative success of black immigrants and the fifty years of legal and institution discrimination in favor of African Americans, called previously “affirmative action” and today “diversity, equity, and inclusion.” Not only have African Americans received special preference and benefits in higher education, industry, media, and government, but they are increasingly provided segregated support programs, housing, eating facilities, and ceremonies, all to allow them to “feel safe.”

Critical race theory does not stop there. Programs for re-education have been instituted in universities, businesses, the military, government, and just about everywhere. This re-education consists of explaining to whites that they are inherently racist and privileged, are “fragile” if they will not admit it, in any case are guilty of “implicit racism” and inevitably are “white nationalists” and “white supremacists,” and that “whiteness” itself is corrupting and evil. Our far-left universities started this trend, but the Democrat Party has made it a central policy and call all Republicans and Republican voters, among other nasty names such as “deplorables,” “white supremacists,” insurrectionists, and domestic terrorists. Apparently, they also include the increasing numbers of African American and Hispanic Republican voters. Partisan exploitation of racial accusations is a major electoral strategy of the Democrat Party and is key to their power grab.

Keep in mind that 70% of Americans are white, while 12% are African Americans. If you want to intensify white identity and encourage white nationalism and white supremacism, what would you do? Well, I think a good strategy would be to vilify the supermajority of citizens on behalf of a minority and to tell them that they are inherently evil. Force them to participate in ceremonial vilification of themselves, such as critical race re-education sessions. Segregate people on the basis of race. Discriminate against the members of the majority race. If this is not a formula for increasing white identity and white nationalism, I do not know what is. Keep in mind that it is the educational, business, media, military, political, and government elites of all colors calling for this overt racist attack on whites. It is not African Americans. But when the white reaction comes, who will suffer from the push back? I would like to think that the anti-white elites would be abandoned and rejected, but I fear that ordinary African American citizens will be the ones who suffer. And they have already suffered enough at the hands of self-seeking elites.


Image: Kelly Lacy, Public Domain

Philip Carl Salzman

Philip Carl Salzman

Philip Carl Salzman is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at McGill University, Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and President of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.

4 thoughts on “The Woke War Against African Americans

  1. Addressing the article’s idea of impact upon a specific African American community –
    Sometimes I get the feeling that Barnum and Bailey never actually went away, but brought a new and very different 3-ring circus back to town. A lucrative circus just as capable of duping all those suckers born every minute.
    Whatever it is that systemic whiteness is supposed to be doing to persons of color has been shown to be incredibly selective. The facts produce the results that prove this.
    While hiding an elephant to make visible a tiger, so do most not notice that they’ve been had. Only this ain’t entertainment.
    While saying all those names, like a kind of a Gregorian chant – I never hear the names of the kids. Ever.
    Which is why that slogan about something supposed to ‘matter’?
    There is absolutely no shame that makes that right.

    A most peculiar war zone – in which the ‘collateral damage’ provokes almost a soldier philosophy. All of the most intelligent African Americans I know (and I know many) say the same thing (among other intelligent remarks). Please stop helping us.

  2. As a motorcyclist, I look at that picture and cringe — asking how many people have to go home in bodybags to appease these woke activists.

    First, unlike asphalt or concrete, paint is a smooth surface that becomes slippery when wet. Exceptionally slippery, and even worse when just damp. A two-wheeled motorcycle is not something that you want to be riding on a slippery surface, it is almost impossible not to have come out from underneath you. (Even wet metal gratings can be treacherous.)

    Using the parked cars as a guide, that painting is almost 200 feet long! A few feet of paint you can deal with, and often go around — here you can do neither…

    Second, that’s at an intersection where people need to be able to stop — either because they have a red light or (more urgently) because someone else didn’t stop for theirs. Or some idiot on a bicycle did something stupid, in the way that only a bicyclist can — it helps to not have to worry about traffic tickets or insurance surcharges.

    That 200 feet of wet pavement is going to act like 200 feet of ice, and anti-lock brakes or not, someone desperately trying to stop is instead going to sail right through there, likely with tragic consequences.

    And yes, bicycles are going to have the same problem as motorcycles — not to the same extent because they weigh 60 lbs and not 600 lbs and an intrepid bicyclists can use feet to prevent toppling in a way that a motorcyclist can’t — but you can still fall off it. (And it does look like they have scraped the paint off the center of the bikelane as well.)

    Third, the “busier” the driver’s view is — the more stuff on and adjacent to a road there is for a driver to see, the less of any one thing the driver can see. It’s the same thing as driver distraction and why we’ve banned hand-held cellphones while driving.

    Even from this perspective, it isn’t easy to tell that is a left-turn-only lane, and it will be damn near impossible to do so from the driver’s perspective. Likewise, it isn’t exactly clear in which direction traffic is supposed to be moving in that lane — something which is exacerbated by other confusing pavement stripes.

    US Federal DOT Specification state that yellow is to be used ONLY to mark the center line of the highway — and nothing else! This is why divided highways have a yellow line (and yellow reflectors) on the left side of the road, as that is the centerline. While they use a shade of yellow that has a little more white in it, Canada also follows the same protocol.

    So in addition to being slippery, that painted slogan is also distracting. And I don’t care if it says “End Racism” or (NY) “Yankees Suck” — anything painted there is distracting, distracts the operator from both putting the vehicle where it should be and from avoiding crashes.

    So my question for BLM is how many bodybags do they wish to fill as the price of their statements? Little black children are every bit as likely to run out into traffic as any other children are — they are young children after all — and how many dead Black 5-year-olds is BLM willing to accept as the price of this statement?

    Or the Black teenager who should have been paying attention, shouldn’t have been going quite as fast as he was, shouldn’t have turned und to chat with his buddies — but still would have been able to stop for the red light in time had it not been for that 200 feet of slippery paint — and instead winds up under the front axle of a Mack truck.

    These Black lives don’t matter?

    Or do Black Lives only matter when they can make a political statement out of it?

      1. I’m not even addressing the stupidity — as someone who was once on a volunteer fire department (and ambulance crew), I am asking if these people even care about dead Black children.

        They apparently don’t — and that’s a problem…

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