One can critique Eurocentric narratives, broaden one’s intellectual and cultural palate beyond the Euro-American canon and believe that African societies and cultures deserve respect and should not be slandered—without the specialised and mostly incomprehensible terminology, shrill posturing and reactionary pseudo-radicalism that define decolonial politics.
It’s essentially a turf war. Only Latino authors can write novels about Latinos. Only Holocaust survivors can convey the truth of the Holocaust. Only disabled people can portray disabled people. Everyone else is out.
This is one point of view, and as with most points of view, some of it is valid. Clearly those who have lived through something — whether it’s a tsunami or a lifetime of racial discrimination — have a story to tell. Their perspective is distinct and it’s valuable. But it is, crucially, only one perspective.
These people can then end up in a spiral of sorts. They vacuum up productivity advice and start waking up at 5 AM and putting cow piss in their coffee and meditating 30 minutes before breakfast and journaling with binaural beats in the background while visualizing their spirit animal. The American Dream Is Killing Us
But when it became clear that the public health response to Covid involved denying ourselves things we wanted and enjoyed, including non-negotiably important things like in-person schooling and face-to-face human contact, they (subconsciously) saw an opening: if denial of human pleasures is virtuous, I can be more virtuous than my peers. If caution is noble, overcaution must be even nobler.
Kids stopped learning what Gen X and every previous generation learned in high school: Free speech is good for everyone; witch hunts and moral panics always end in terrible injustice; blacklists are un-American. Instead they started learning that speech could be violence and purges could be heroic. Victimhood is currency and sending someone to the gulag makes you feel superior.
This attempt to correct injustice is laudable, but the work of anti-racism must be rooted in the moral ethic of love and acknowledge the profound sacredness of human beings. Love is not empty sentimentalism. Martin Luther King Jr. warned against such thinking in his seminal work “Strength to Love” in 1963.
The problem with critical race theory is much deeper than that, though. It stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the complexities of our social and political realities, reducing them to a single factor: racism. But when it comes to how race and power intersect, black history is far, far richer than critical race theorists allow.