by J. Pharoah Doss, For New Pittsburgh Courier
Ibram X. Kendi’s latest essay in The Atlantic was titled—Our New Postracial Myth: The postracial idea is the most sophisticated racist idea ever produced.
Kendi quoted former Vice President Mike Pence, “It is time for America to discard the left-wing myth of systemic racism. America is not a racist nation.”
Kendi said: We’ve heard this before.
Then he announced: “America is not a racist nation” is the new “America is a postracial nation.” We are witnessing the birth of a new postracial project.
What was the old postracial project?
In 2008 Barack Obama became the first Black president of the United States. This historic event came with a pertinent question: Did Obama’s victory mean America was a postracial society?
But what did postracial mean?
Kendi stated (after Obama’s victory) journalists were explaining what “postracial” meant. The postracial era, as embodied by Obama, is the era where Americans begin to make race-free judgments on who should lead them.
Other journalists asked if Obama’s election meant America would end its racism against Black people. Postracial skeptics answered no and pointed to racial disparities to dismiss the postracial claim. For these skeptics, the term postracial should describe a society in which racial disparities were nonexistent.
So, the old postracial project began in 2008 and was defined in two ways.
1). Race-free judgments in elections
2). Promote Obama’s success as proof America ended racism
The problem with this premise is that the term postracial didn’t originate in 2008. And the definitions of postracial that emerged after Obama’s election were so awful that one might assume they were created to be rejected.
The term postracial first appeared in the New York Times in 1971 describing a political situation in the American South where race relations were not the biggest election issue and racism was not the preventive force it had been during the previous decades. Furthermore, in 1978, Black sociologist William Julius Wilson wrote a book called: “The Declining Significance of Race.” In no way was Wilson’s book a postracial treatise, but it demonstrated that economic class had gradually become more important than race in determining the life trajectory of Black Americans.
However, Kendi stated in his essay, “The people who promulgated the original postracial project in 2008 aren’t necessarily the same ones resurrecting it today.”
When Kendi said, “we are witnessing the birth of a new post racial project,” he was referring to conservatives that reject the notion that America is a racist country.
Kendi maintained, “Many Americans search for nonracial explanations for racial inequity, particularly class and its proxy, education. But presenting class as the answer avoids the question of why people of color are unduly poor and White people are disproportionately rich.” Kendi believes the new post racial myth is sophisticated because by eliminating the explanation of racism for racial inequality conservatives will invent their own racist ideas to explain the racial inequalities all around them.
According to this logic William Julius Wilson’s book, “The Declining Significance of Race” is a racist idea because, as Kendi stated in his essay, “The cause of racial inequity is either racist policy or racial hierarchy. The race problem is the result of bad policies or bad people.”
But it’s a scientific fact that dozens of nonracial explanations for racial disparities exist.
For Kendi to reject nonracial explanations for racial inequities because he’s certain they’re caused by racist policies or bad people may not be the most racist idea ever produced, but it certainly is the most unsophisticated.