“Ah, Love, Let Us Be True to One Another”

So, it can seem, sometimes, as if Critical Race Theorists and the Far-Right are collaborating to divide society, as, by forcing everyone to take an extreme position, they can each recruit more fence-sitting humanists into their constituencies, and increase their personal power and influence. 

The divisive nature of the theory can be seen in Otegha Uwagba’s Whites: on Race and Other Falsehoods, when she takes fright at some clumsy and annoying, but relatively innocuous comments made to her by self-satisfied white progressives. (2020, London: 4th Estate, pp42-47) They included somebody simply using the adjective “Aryan” to describe a Scandinavian beauty architype. Ms Uwagba later describes some genuinely troubling statements made by white people. However, these initial offenses make her seem hypersensitive. It is no wonder that her panic-stricken white friends, desperate not to offend, keep putting their feet in it. People are idiots and are continually upsetting, and coming into conflict with each other. It is naïve to assume that these tensions are generated by racist assumptions and that white people don’t experience such slights. They do. All the time. That’s life. That’s human beings. 

More worryingly, the following day Ms Uwagba went “to a Black friend’s birthday party, and I am pathetically grateful for its timing, and to be surrounded by other Black people, Black joy, Black children, Black food. It feels almost baptismal, like I am being washed clean of what happened the night before.” (p47) The author feels perfectly justified in revelling in a segregationist mindset, even to the extent of describing contact with white people as soiling, because she accepts the generalities of Ms DiAngelo’s brand of Critical Race theory. Her attitude is the result of discrimination by white people. It is their fault. They started it and Otegha Uwagba can’t be expected to resist her own social conditioning. (But, if so, why should white people?)

This attitude is also displayed when Ms Uwagba discusses what she’s learnt from talking to white people about race. This short, bullet-pointed list begins, “white people are generally happy to acknowledge racism, just as long as they don’t feel that they themselves are being accused of it.”

Once again, we have an acceptance of racial division, and the dismissing and condemnation of individuals based on assumptions about their racial characteristics, although Ms Uwagba implies white inadequacy is conditioned rather than innate.

To repeat myself: perhaps the true division in society is between the partisan racial extremists of either sort, the racists, and the moderates who are trying to reach out to each other, find common ground. 

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