Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America - book cover
  • Publisher : Portfolio
  • Published : 26 Oct 2021
  • Pages : 224
  • ISBN-10 : 0593423062
  • ISBN-13 : 9780593423066
  • Language : English

Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America

New York Times bestselling author and acclaimed linguist 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 roadmap to justice that actually will help, not hurt, Black America.

Editorial Reviews

"This is a passionate, often fiery book, but it is also seriously considered and scrupulously reasoned. Whether or not readers are persuaded by McWhorter's analysis, they must, in the name of intellectual honesty, consider the book mandatory reading."-Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"McWhorter brings us much-needed pointed social commentarywith humor and grace. Give this book to those who are questioning the new religion, even those who have found it. Woke Racism has the capacity to melt the hatred and fervor that is now all the rage, and to bring love and forgiveness, logic and discourse, back into fashion."-Heather E. Heying, evolutionary biologist and coauthor of A Hunter-Gatherer's Guide to the 21st Century

"Scathingly brilliant and strawman-killing from the get-go, Woke Racism will make you stop in your tracks no matter what your politics are-and very possibly reexamine some of your deepest held convictions. Masterfully and beautifully written, this book is a powerful appeal for common sense."-Amy Chua, professor at Yale Law School and author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and Political Tribes

"Honest commentary about racial controversies is rare, and John McWhorter is a writer who can be counted on to provide it. Woke Racism is a heartfelt evisceration of the sloppy thinking that forms the foundation of so much social justice activism today. It's an essential contribution to our national discussion about racial inequality, and McWhorter's willingness to put unvarnished truth above politically correct niceties deserves our gratitude."-Jason L. Riley, Wall Street Journal columnist and author of Maverick

Readers Top Reviews

Thiberio Oliveira do
My most sincere regards to the author. WHAT A FANTASTIC AND DETAILED BOOK!!! I'd give 10 stars if possible!
David MarshallGlenn
McWhorter is such a lively writer, so lucid and sharp, and his argument here is so important (or would be, if only), that one must justify giving the book (a high) three stars. I will not do so by echoing the reviewer below who calls this "right-wing whining:" McWhorter concedes far too much for my taste. Yet he has much to say that should be heard. 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, ...
This book arrived today, and I opened it to skim it a bit, but was hooked. Sat down with it and didn't get up until I finished the last page. I admire and follow--but do not always agree with--McWhorter. 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!