There are many reasons I refuse to discuss racism with white people. They debate race from a place of willful obtuseness; they both figuratively and literally have no skin in the game; their breath smells like hot bologna even through a computer screen, etc. (That last one was petty and I’m not proud of it—OK, I’m a little proud.)
But the main reason I won’t allow myself to fall down the white supremacist rabbit hole of getting into it with the melanin-redacted over the subject of racism is simple: Black people learn about racism mostly through our lived experiences while white people learn about racism through the University of Not Knowing What TF They’re Talking About.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is the dean of that university.
On Monday, McCarthy continued the caucasified conservative tradition of whitesplaining Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to Black people while denouncing an academic study many white people would also like to see assassinated on a balcony.
“Critical Race Theory goes against everything Martin Luther King Jr. taught us—to not judge others by the color of their skin,” McCarthy captioned over looped video footage of him dramatically saying the same ill-informed words. “The Left is trying to take America backward.”
In one sentence, McCarthy managed to be factually wrong twice.
First, CRT doesn’t teach anyone to judge white people by the color of their skin. It’s not a study of racism at the individual level. If anything, CRT judges America by the racism of its institutions, but mostly what it does is examine how race affects laws and other structures in theory.
In fact, between MLK and CRT, only one set of initials belongs to an unabashed judger of the whites.
MLK judged the fuck out of white people.
The Root’s Michael Harriot has already compiled a list of quotes proving undeniably that the civil rights icon often told the truth about white racism without mincing words to protect white people’s fragile-ass feelings.
Here are some of those quotes:
- Many white people who sincerely oppose segregation and [discrimination], but they never took a [real] stand against it because of fear of standing alone.
- In their relations with Negroes, white people discovered that they had rejected the very center of their own ethical professions.
- In the past, we have sat in the back of the buses, and this has indicated a basic lack of self-respect. It shows that we thought of ourselves as less than men. On the other hand, the white people have sat in the front and have thought of themselves as superior. They have tried to play God.
- I am convinced that the white people are not going to move on if the Negroes don’t. It is going to depend on whether we continue to move and our method in moving will arouse the consciences of the white people.
- I have repeatedly warned my people that victory would not come if they wait for the white people to furnish the dinner while they merely furnish the appetite.
- Again, I say although the white man has done us wrong it is our Christian obligation not to do them wrong.
- [During the Montgomery Boycott] Things were going well for the first few days, but then about ten or fifteen days later, after the white people in Montgomery knew that we meant business, they started doing some nasty things.
Of course, the fine folks on Twitter—including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), writer Viet Thanh Nguyen and some guy named Michael who I think I mentioned earlier—were quick to grab more receipts and form a “you don’t know shit” chorus line in response to McCarthy’s tweet.
Unfortunately, if McCarthy and other know-nothing conservatives are unwilling to listen to MLK about who MLK was, it’s not likely they’ll listen to anyone else including King’s daughter, Bernice King, who graciously advised McCarthy to “study my father’s teachings & words well beyond the last lines of ‘I Have A Dream.’”
It’s just too bad her advice won’t land with people like McCarthy. White people are hard-headed—and MLK knew that.