Say you are in a culturally mixed marriage, and you are discussing with your spouse how to discipline your child for bad marks in school. One parent comes from a background that emphasizes a strong educational upbringing, while the other comes from a family that never went to college, including themself. The parent from a college-educated family wants to emphasize how critical it is to do well in academics and wants to punish the child according to this sentiment. The other parent does not think the child should be punished at all because they believe the issue is with the school due to the lack of equitable accommodation for their child.
The parent from a college-educated background completely disagrees with their spouse that the school is to blame. They believe the child is not taking their studies seriously, and the child needs to take responsibility for their behavior and correct it. However, the other parent is not budging from their belief because they felt that the school system never cared about them and never provided the proper academic support when they were a child. Accordingly, they believe this is why their child is receiving bad marks.
What is driving the disagreement is one parent centering on their sociocultural upbringing about education and believes the child is responsible for the bad marks. In contrast, the other parent is centered on their sociocultural upbringing and believes that the school is responsible for the bad marks.
My question is how would third-wave anti-racism resolve this dilemma?
The so-called antiracist believe people ought to center themselves on their group identity, and that should be the predicate for seeing social problems. But what happens when others are involved, and they have an equal say and different cultural beliefs?
The antiracist must agree that the dilemma I have laid out demands a resolution, and soon. The child cannot continue to receive bad marks in school, so the parents have agency to come to some understanding about how to get the child back on the right academic path. Additionally, both parents do not have the luxury of ignoring the other and go their own way. To do so would be to ignore the immediate needs of the child. So, how would an antiracist solve the problem?
My concern with third-wave antiracism, a term that is used by Columbia University professor John McWhorter in his book “Woke Racism“ to explain the woke hegemony in the political left, is that it does not offer real answers to real problems. Instead, it comes off as self-indulging performative posturing.
I suspect that the antiracist will have no intelligible answer to the dilemma that I have put forth. Consequently, this does not mean they have no answer. It just means the unspoken answer is a sinister one.
It is sinister because what must ultimately happen under third-wave antiracism is that inclusive diversity must be replaced with exclusive diversity, viz., there can be no commingling of groups, whereby each group must focus on building its own equity.
Inclusive diversity will ultimately mean the end of centering one’s racial identity according to the anti-racist pedagogy. What becomes the center of one’s identity in an inclusive diversity brings people together. In contrast, an exclusive diverse society adverts a “keep to their own” attitude, e.g., shop, work, befriend, and love according to some superficial aesthetic. Basically, an inclusive, diverse society entails having a colorblind society, and an exclusive diverse society entails a modern form of segregation.
Accordingly, two people from two different cultural upbrings coming together in friendship and love becomes a threat to the anti-racist preferred racial world order. People that do not center themselves on superficial concepts cause the anti-racists to reject inclusion for exclusion in the name of racial equity. The anti-racist despise these kinds of harmonious communities that reject the social construction of race because they make it evident that third-wave antiracism and race essentialism is intellectually absurd and morally wrong.
At its center, third-wave antiracism is a sociopolitical movement. It is not a serious intellectual endeavor to help people deal with real problems. It is a self-centering social framework that seems to make its spokesperson wealth by playing to negation and not allowing people to reconcile their differences and live in a harmonious community.
The unfortunate cost of third-wave anti-racism’s divisiveness and self-centeredness is the future of our children. Our children are waiting to hear our wisdom, not our lamentations of past experiences. Let the old keep the past and let the new have the future. What we must focus on at present is to secure a future for our children that is full of opportunity.
Joshua Peters is a philosopher and social critic from Raleigh, NC. His academic background is in western philosophy, STEM, and financial analysis. Joshua studied at North Carolina State University (BS) and UNC Charlotte (MS). He is a graduate of the E.A. Morris Fellowship for Emerging Leaders.