Listening While Malcolm X Laughs
In my sleep last night, I could hear Malcolm X laughing his ass off at the idea of Critical Race Theory (CRT). “What? White people now need and have a theory about racism in the United States. Are you fucking kidding me? Why would anyone but an ignoramus need a theory about racism, about “white privilege” in the United States?”
And when I awoke, I realized why Malcolm X found CRT so laughable. As he and Martin Luther King, Jr. knew, what was needed in the United States was combat against racism, not a theory about racism. They both issued calls to action to combat racism, with Malcolm X saying he would wage combat against racism “by any means necessary,” and gave a most challenging speech entitled “The Ballot or the Bullet.” And while King chose to combat racism pacifistically, he knew that protests and political action were necessary, that racism had to fought, not theorized about.
So, in light of these thoughts, I wondered: What purpose is served by CRT? That is, what purpose is served other than permitting white folks to confess and thereby cleanse themselves of racism, without having to do anything, without having to take any action to combat racism? And then it dawned on me: CRT is simply another example of white privilege and its acceptance as “radical” illustrates just how deeply white privilege is embedded in US society and especially in the minds and lives of white folks. And, of course, when CRT draws opposition and criticism, these same white folks can take pride in their alleged radicalness, all the while not disturbing the status quo much at all and without doing any other than espousing “a theory.”
I guess this should be called “theoretical anti-racism,” although the irony is that in fact this theoretical anti-racism is just another manifestation of how pervasive racism is in the United States. Racism is so prevalent in the United States that it is, as the expression has it, hidden in plain sight. It even comes disguised as anti-racism. It is a most interesting situation.