Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Acclaimed linguist and award-winning writer John McWhorter argues that an illiberal neoracism, disguised as antiracism, is hurting Black communities and weakening the American social fabric.
Americans of good will on both the left and the right are secretly asking themselves the same question: How has the conversation on race in America gone so crazy? We’re told to read books and listen to music by people of color but that wearing certain clothes is “appropriation”. We hear that being White automatically gives you privilege and that being Black makes you a victim. We want to speak up but fear we’ll be seen as unwoke, or worse, labeled a racist. According to John McWhorter, the problem is that a well-meaning but pernicious form of antiracism has become, not a progressive ideology, but a religion - and one that’s illogical, unreachable, and unintentionally neoracist.
In Woke Racism, McWhorter reveals the workings of this new religion, from the original sin of “White privilege” and the weaponization of cancel culture to ban heretics, to the evangelical fervor of the “woke mob”. He shows how this religion that claims to “dismantle racist structures” is actually harming his fellow Black Americans by infantilizing Black people, setting Black students up for failure, and passing policies that disproportionately damage Black communities. The new religion might be called “antiracism”, but it features a racial essentialism that’s barely distinguishable from racist arguments of the past.
Fortunately for Black America, and for all of us, it’s not too late to push back against woke racism. McWhorter shares scripts and encouragement with those trying to deprogram friends and family. And most importantly, he offers a road map to justice that actually will help, not hurt, Black America.
- One credit a month to pick any title from our entire premium selection to keep (you’ll use your first credit now).
- Unlimited listening on select audiobooks, Audible Originals, and podcasts.
- You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
- $14.95 a month after 30 days. Cancel online anytime.
People who viewed this also viewed
People who bought this also bought
|Listening Length||5 hours and 17 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||October 26, 2021|
|Best Sellers Rank||
#190 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals)
#1 in Conservatism & Liberalism
#1 in Racism & Discrimination Studies
#2 in Discrimination & Racism (Books)
Reviews with images
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
It is a pity he largely ruins his argument by dropping so much poorly-aimed ordinance, stupidly taking out millions of potential allies, including myself, as collateral damage.
"Stupid" is not normally a word one would associate with this brilliant scholar. But McWhorter is a linguist, dabbling here in religion. I am a philosopher of religion, who dabbles in language occasionally. The problem with religion is, everyone thinks they're an expert, even if they are as weakly-informed on the subject as Sigmund Freud, Steven Pinker, or Richard Dawkins. McWhorter shows that on this subject, which he makes central to his critique of Wokism, he is as uncritical and ill-informed as the most preachy New Atheist.
Should one call woke ideology a "religion?" That depends on how you define the word (see Peter Berger): the odd thing is, McWhorter doesn't give a definition, despite how central this classification is to his argument, and the fact that he is a linguist. He implies that religion means believing what you want to, despite the evidence. (Say, in the Seattle Mariners.) But religion cannot reasonably be defined that way, unless you (ironically) ignore contrary evidence. (See True Reason, in particular the chapter by the philosopher Tim McGrew and myself.)
By some definitions, McWhorter would also qualify as a religious person, and his own beliefs -- which he proselytizes here, apparently thinking others should agree with him, though he describes evangelizing as a mark of religion -- are potentially subject to the same criticism he levels on his targets. He criticizes Manicheanism, but edges towards a Gnostic view of society, with the Enlightened faithful battling legions of the superstitious and cognitively lazy. If you don't believe in angels, you shouldn't so glibly claim to be on their side.
And if you're writing a book to convince people to oppose a popular new faith, why spend so much time attacking people who might prove to be your allies?
And ignorantly! Cotton Mather is a byword for blind faith? Actually he was keenly interested in the sciences, which pious Christian thinkers did much to create, and helped stop small pox in its tracks in Boston. Ben Franklin credits him for inspiring his own good works. No, religions are not all the same, even so-called "Abrahamic religions" (a dubious category), any more than all writing systems are the same. No, blind faith or "unempirical" beliefs are not the necessary hallmark of Christianity: in fact, almost every sermon to pagans in the Acts of the Apostles is highly empirical. Nor is it true that early Christians simply "thought of themselves as bearers of truth, in contrast to all other belief systems." Again, read Acts, and see how Paul interacted with Stoic philosophers in Athens. Or Justin Martyr, Origen, St. Augustine, after him. I wrote my doctoral dissertation on how Christianity sees other faiths, mostly in the Chinese context, but with reference to other civilizations as well. (Fulfillment: A Christian Model of Religions.) McWhorter continually takes irrelevant shots at a version of Christianity that have been refuted decades ago, and that show a lack of familiarity with original sources or classic theory. And does he not think himself a "bearer of truth," too? Is that not the very definition of a man with a serious argument? So why does he present that as a bad thing? It is irritating to buy a critique of a modern ideology that the author understands, and get so much of a attack on an ancient ideology that he clearly does not, in a field not his own, with so little self-criticism.
McWhorter's epistemology is also dubious. He decries the "suspension of disbelief" in religion. But really, conflicts between opposing authorities -- say, your naked eyes, and what your best friend tells you -- are inherent in the human condition. The only rational way to act in this world, is by ignoring some doubts, most of the time. Believing God in the face of doubts is, in that sense, only a particular case of a cognitive act we rationally make every day.
At the end of the book, McWhorter tells readers, "If you wish to expel religion, Sigmund Freud, The Future of An Illusion." But as Kevin Williamson put it recently, "As a scientist, Sigmund Freud was a man whose name was one vowel away from being the perfect aptronym . . . " At best, on religion, Freud is an amusing and imaginative crackpot. That McWhorter thinks he's the go-to guy, is astonishing.
McWhorter also assumes that "religions" are essentially the same -- even if he doesn't define the word. But every object in the cosmos larger than a molecule is unique. The idea that religions are essentially the same is far more ludicrous than standing outside in a snowstorm and imagining that each flake is the same: since religions are believed by humans, they are at least as varied as people. And McWhorter's own culturally-formed worldview is not the default position.
McWhorter does mention one difference between religions: Wokism has not developed a concept of forgiveness yet. But as I explain in "Letter to a 'Racist' Nation," concern for those on the margins is a fragment chipped off of Christian theology, introduced by Jesus. You don't easily find it in Greco-Roman civilization before that: read Suetonius, or Tom Holland's Dominion. Nor do you find it in Aztec or Nazi religions. Isolated from Virtue as a whole, compassion has gone mad in modern American society, with results that McWhorter brilliantly describes. (Foreseen by Clement of Alexandria and G. K. Chesterton.)
Another valid link between Christianity and Wokism is explained by Rene Girard, whom McWhorter does not mention: the notion of scapegoating. For Christians, Jesus took the sins of the world upon himself. Girard points out that even from a secular perspective, Jesus also subverts and exposes all attempts to scapegoat. Jesus was thus the historical antidote to Cancel Culture.
McWhorter is much better when describing culture, psychology, or faculty politics. His prose floats like a butterfly, then stings like a bee. Unfortunately, this bee wastes too many stings on a Rock that whole hives of hornets and yellowjackets have failed to dent. Obviously McWhorter's stings did manage to irritate me, anyway. But he should stick to attacking targets he knows well, or "carefully examine" (like St. Paul in Athens) the objects of his fury, before going at them.
While I'm ranting, I should also mention McWhorter's mild support for BLM and less mild criticism of the police. It's not just that my brother's a cop, and he's saved lives (of what color, it doesn't matter) in many ways, while as predicted, BLM protests were again followed by a huge upsurge in murders. But also, I visited CHAZ. Just to the west of the Seattle East Precinct I found "Blue Lives Murder" graffiti. By the front door to east, protestors had hung a poster of 29 African-Americans killed by police in WA state in recent years. (Ignoring Whites, Asians, Natives, and Hispanics.) I researched those and other "victims" of police shootings (see Letter to a "Racist" Nation) and found almost all were aggressively wielding guns or other weapons. Some of these "victims" had already murdered someone. In fact, some 3000 innocent Americans die of medical errors, for every one killed by law enforcement. It was a witch hunt, last year. Dr. McWhorter needs to treat BLM propaganda more critically.
Despite all that criticism, if you either piously accept McWhorter's Enlightenment myths, or know enough to be skeptical, there's a lot of incisive description and cutting analysis in this book. It's often witty and fun. I could have been something I could recommend wholeheartedly: as is, only with those caveats. Later chapters are a bit more free of that nonsense.
I’ve also been reading widely about wokeism for my own purposes, and this is the best single source I’ve found. I’d read some excerpts he’d released in advance and knew he interpreted Wokeism as a religion cast it in a strictly negative light.
This worried me because I felt it would limit his audience unnecessarily. However, by the time I finished that chapter, I was convinced by the sheer number of parallel features that the approach was justified. The analogies with well-known religious features clarified his points and make them memorable. I do think he might have noted that the parallels were only with the least helpful parts of religion.
The religious analogy has become quite popular, but be assured that McWhorter takes it deeper than anyone else. Still, the most helpful part for me did not arrive until p. 120 — the Elite’s mistake regarding outcomes and opportunities. (The Elite is his ironic name for the woke.)
As he explains the mistake “if we don’t trace the problems to racism, then the only other possibility must be that black people are inherently deficient somehow.” Since the latter is false, all racial discrepancies are thought to be due to current racism. This is ridiculous because past racism can produce cultural problems that persist for decades after the racism is gone. This is a devastating mistake that has become ubiquitous — for example, it is absolutely central to Ibram Kendi’s Antiracism.
I knew in theory, about the persistence of cultural problems, but McWhorter finally provided me with the concrete explanations I had been seeking, along with references I can now consult.
I’m sure that everyone who reads the book will find their own gems that suit their needs as there are many to be found. He also includes useful recommendations about how to limit the problems caused by woke racism, a problem that is starting to tear apart American culture. Read this book and tell your friends.
At long last! A black progressive who's willing to call out every scrap of pernicious nonsense being parroted by so many in the name of anti-racism. He calls out the fact that this "Third Wave Antiracism" is actually racism of the most chilling kind: patronizing and infantilizing black people, telling us what we must think and believe, and perpetuating a culture of shame. He eviscerates CRT and exposes it for the lying, manipulative ideological warfare that it is. McWhorter's assertions are backed by plenty of recent evidence. He's a bit snarky, but that actually was refreshing: you can tell the guy is really bothered by all of this, and he really CARES about dismantling the current Cultural Revolution-esque zeitgeist of lies, hatred, and public shaming of anyone who dares to disagree.
The book is entertainingly and breezily written, full of clarity and logic and passion.
I feel like the lights just came on and the windows have been opened.
Bravo, Mr McWhorter, for taking a stand and helping others feel like they can do so as well!
STANDING UP IS HARD YOU KNOW THAT COMPLETELY.
Top reviews from other countries
It is sad that many of those who ought to read this book will dismiss it unread, though it has important lessons for us all. I am reminded of a verse from Scripture (Luke 16.31): "Then Abraham said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”.
The Wokerati are doing so well financially, with mllions of dollars gifted by Jack Dorsey to Ibram X Kendi, that he would have no incentive ever to admit he was wrong, even if he came to see it. Vested interests are at play here, with people like Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan reaping huge amounts of money and prestige by pretending to be working for the black community, when they are doing exactly the opposite. Thomas Sowell pointed this out decades ago, but the wokerati do not want to know. I wish John McWhorter a long and happy life; but should he eventually rise from the dead, I suspect those who most need his message will still not want to hear it. Sad to say, I fear he is preaching to the choir.
Reviewed in France on October 31, 2021