The New Racism II. What Does Sensible Progress Against Racism Consist of?

Racism, real and perceived, is one of the most contentious issues in America today.  I have devoted many posts to discussing this problem.  My basic view is that while there are remnants of our racist past in today’s society, America has made much progress in improving race relations in recent years, and systemic racism no longer exists.

Last week I presented John McWhorter’s view that there is now a new form of racism in America which he calls Woke Racism: how a new religion has betrayed black America.  Mr. McWhorter describes in great detail how Woke Racism has many characteristics in common with a religious movement.

Clearly, there are many different ways of discussing racism.  But, whatever it is, how should we be combatting it?  My own view is by achieving better educational outcomes for disadvantaged children and also by creating better job opportunities for them.

Mr. McWhorter is more specific:

  • End the war on drugs. Because drugs are illegal there is a thriving black market for them.  Underserved black men often drift into this market, as an understandable choice when schools have failed them.  Any legal work would be better than selling drugs, which puts people at high risk of being killed or at least going to prison for long stretches.
    I understand what Mr. McWhorter is suggesting and why but I am opposed to drug legalization because this would increase drug use and drugs are unhealthy.  Perhaps there is an intermediate course, for example, decriminalizing drug use without making it legal.  Or perhaps turning over drug use enforcement to the states, so that regional differences are better respected.
  • Teach reading properly. There are two ways of teaching a child to read.  Phonics (sounding out letters) is one way.  The whole word method (approaching words as chunks and guessing at their pronunciation) is the other way.  Since the 1960s, phonics has been unanimously demonstrated to be more effective for teaching poor kids to read.  Generations of black kids, disproportionally poor, have been sideswiped by inadequate reading instruction.  The impact on life trajectory is clear.
    Amen!  I entirely agree with Mr. McWhorter.

  • Get past the idea that everybody must go to a four-year college. America needs to truly value working-class jobs.  We must instill a sense that vocational school – not just four-year college – is a valued option for people who want to get beyond what they grew up in.

Conclusion.  Americans differ strongly on how bad racism really is in America today.  But most of us will agree that society should address it in one way or another, perhaps in many different ways, by helping African/Americans achieve more academic and economic success.  John McWhorter’s new book helps not only to understand what racism is but how to address it most effectively by helping black Americans move up the social and economic ladders.  

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