John McWhorter’s Very Different “Critical Race Theory”
John McWhorter teaches linguistics, philosophy and music history at Columbia University. He said, “I’ve been black pretty much for 55 years, and I know how black people feel...” You’re going to be very interested in what else he has to say. Tweet
Race is complicated, and we don’t want to pretend to have all the answers. Okay, we don’t even want to pretend to have any answers. But we are interested in hearing from others who can bring wisdom, insight and experience to the table.
One of those people is John McWhorter, who teaches linguistics, philosophy and music history at Columbia University. McWhorter offered this eye-opening analysis of race in the United States today, on a recent episode of Real Time with Bill Maher:
John McWhorter: it’s the strangest thing. Like you read a book like—and you know, we’re going to have to be specific—White Fragility, which basically says that black people are these hot-house flowers where everybody has to tiptoe around us. And you know, we’re always crying, and we’re always angry, and we’re just so very, very, very delicate. I don’t feel like that person. That book is talking down to me, as far as I’m concerned…”
Bill Maher: it really should be called “Black Fragility”…er—
John McWhorter: yes, yes. It should be used to keep tables from wobbling. That is the only use for that book. And yet, you look on Facebook and you have people saying, “I’m doing the work,” and reading this book. And I think to myself, “They are doing the work of making me into a perfect idiot.”
John McWhorter is a scholar; and if you find his interview with Bill Maher insightful, you will also want to read his recent blog post, “Can We Please Ditch the Term ‘Systemic Racism’? [sic]”—as well as his new book, Nine Nasty Words: English in the Gutter: Then, Now, and Forever.