What’s Wrong with Airbnb’s “Activism and Allyship” Guide? Dangers of Critical Race Theory and Benefits of Non-Violent Communication

This article is primarily written by a guest contributor, who is not a host but is an experienced teacher of NonViolent Communication.

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On June 2 2020, following in the national tumult, widespread protests and violent riots and looting following the death of  George Floyd while being arrested by Minneapolis police, Airbnb issued this “Activism and Allyship Guide”

https://news.airbnb.com/activism-allyship-guide/

As well, after laying off 1900 employees, Airbnb this week donated $500,000 to Black Lives Matter, a group which among other things,  is calling for the abolishing of police departments across the nation.
https://www.billoreilly.com/b/Radio:-June-3-2020/889163107005710888.html

Many who were very disturbed by the death of George Floyd, following in the deaths of other black males in police custody, feel that changes are needed in our nation, and that this Guide produced by Airbnb made a positive contribution in that direction.  Though well-intentioned, I believe that this Guide, like much of the theory and discussion surrounding difficult and complex sociopolitical issues touching on race, policing, the criminal justice system, through its connection with problematic ideology, actually may be quite inadvertently deepening the problems we collectively face, rather than helping to alleviate them.

The events of the last week involve issues that I believe are critical for us to examine, and those issues don’t pertain only to race and racism.  In fact, even for those who have no interest in discussions on racism or any of the isms, I think it’s very important that they work to develop an awareness of the ideologies that have given rise to the protests and riots we’ve seen around the nation, and the ideologies and philosophies behind much of the “Social Justice Movement”, and the Black Lives Matter movement.   The reason I think it’s so important to explore this, is we are living in dangerous times, an era made dangerous by an increasing degree of polarization as well as by the spread of some extremely bad ideas, ideas that threaten to tear us apart and destroy institutions we have built carefully since the founding of our nation.

One of the difficulties in recognizing these bad ideas, is that they are disguised, hidden inside a Trojan Horse.  They represent themselves as working towards goals that we all value: things like social justice, racial justice.  Because these goals sound noble and important, and we as compassionate human beings want to alleviate suffering and make the world a better place, we are at risk of, quite unwittingly, signing on to support organizations, movements and ideologies that are poisonous and destructive in their very essence.

I’m writing this in hopes of helping reveal some of the destructive and very problematic nature of some of the theories which, unbeknownst to innocent hosts hoping to easily or quickly find some useful information in a Guide Airbnb puts out, are at the basis of some ideologies and resources presented there.  Unfortunately, as is often the case with people who want to help or make some contribution but don’t have much time, it’s quite possible that the less time and thinking you have available to put into this effort, the more that a poisonous system can exploit your lack of time, as well as your sense of obligation or possibly guilt, to continue its cancerous expansion over the body of our nation. Your ability to employ sharp critical thinking skills has perhaps never been greater than it is becoming in these times.

Critical Race Theory, or CRT for short,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_race_theory and Intersectionality, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersectionality ,   as well as Identity Politics, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identity_politics ,  are the theoretical underpinnings of  the Black Lives Matter movement and much of the Social Justice and Anti-Racism movements we see in America and beyond, and thus figure into the foundations of Airbnb’s Allyship Guide.

In contrast to those theories,  which I will go on to argue are founded in pessimistic, divisive, cynical, irrational, pathologizing and gaslighting ideologies,  which make use of circular reasoning, public shaming, bullying and punishment of “blasphemers” rather than logical argument to grain ground, and can thus promote “cult-like” groupthink.    I want to offer a few alternative and in my mind, healthier approaches to working for social justice, racial justice, community healing.  Primarily I will be discussing what is offered through a system called “Non-Violent Communication“, or NVC for short, which, as stated in the NVC website here:
https://www.cnvc.org/
Is a widely used and widely admired communication system that “helps people peacefully and effectively resolve conflicts in personal, organizational, and political settings.”
I have used (practiced)  and written about NVC.

Thus, the goal here is to  write this article comparing and contrasting the NVC system, and what it may have to offer in terms of open, honest mutual dialogue and work to resolve these difficult and painful issues around justice and race, with the theories/systems of  CRT,  Intersectionality, and Identity Politics.  I will argue that these latter theories are actually worsening the problem that we face at present, and are carrying us in a quite dangerous direction, which is all the more concerning since so many well-intentioned, good-hearted and compassionate people believe that the movements based in these theories are the direction needed to find solutions.  But rather than moving us towards greater justice,  these theories add fuel to a dangerous fire and are likely to deepen injustice. fires looting image

This is the outline of this article:

(1) Because this article is long and not everyone has time to read the whole thing, I will present a short list of recommended resources for those wanting to work on social and racial justice issues.
(2)  I will present a critique of Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality and Identity Politics.
(3) I will describe what Non Violent Communication is, how it differs from other approaches to working for social and racial justice.  In light of criticisms that NVC may not take into account structural or systemic imbalances or racism, I’ll offer some resources and articles that demonstrate some ways of trying to incorporate awareness of social structures of power imbalance, within the NVC process.
(4) I will compare/contrast two example dialogues on race issues, taking place between a black woman and white woman, one structured using Critical Race Theory, the other structured using Non Violent Communication techniques.  I will offer these dialogues and then “unpack” how I believe they impacted both the participants, and show how the latter offers more hope for change and growth built on mutual dialogue and collaboration.

Short List of Resources

I’ll be arguing  here that Critical Race Theory is problematic and dangerous.  Here are some resources on this issue:

A great recent article on this subject by scholar James Lindsay:   https://newdiscourses.com/2020/06/do-better-than-critical-race-theory/

A video with an interview of the author of the above, James Lindsay:

And another critique in this longer article:
What_s Wrong with Critical Race Theory

Resources on Non Violent Communication:
Non Violent Communication main website:
https://www.cnvc.org/

NVC Book — this is the book by Marshall Rosenberg
https://www.amazon.com/Nonviolent-Communication-Language-Life-Changing-Relationships/dp/189200528X/ref=sr_1_1

And this is where you can read the book for free on a pdf:
https://dragunview.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/nonviolent-communication-a-language-of-life-with-added-charts.pdf

or
NonViolent Communication A Language of Life with added Charts

Bay NVC and Changing Consciousness
https://baynvc.org/nvc-changing-consciousness/

NVC and Social Justice
http://nlsj.learnnvc.org/

Comments on NVC and racism
https://faithandleadership.com/theresa-f-latini-practice-nonviolent-communication-identify-confront-and-transform-aspects-racism

https://workcollaboratively.com/2017/08/17/nvc-conversations-about-privilege-and-power-over/

NVC Teachers and Mentors:
Newt Bailey
https://baynvc.org/trainers/newt-bailey-10/

Kathy Simon
https://www.kathysimonphd.com/about-me

Nancy Kahn
On Empathy:

For those interested in working for social justice, ending racism, helping fight inequality, particularly given the dangerous polarization of our times, I passionately believe that the healthiest way to do this is to build bridges by building open, honest dialogue.  I would urge you to find a chapter of Non-Violent Communication in your area, or find a way to network online with this organization, and look for those in the organization creating groups on this topic or working one-on-one on race issues.  There are many options for how NVC could be used, for instance,  to help heal wounds between police and communities of color. Once you begin to be versed in using NVC, you’ll see it can be applied for example to foster dialogue between a city police department, and families of those who’ve lost family members to police killings.  It can and has been used to help build connection between people of different races, different economic groups, different political affiliations, really any groups of people.

Some may express interest in participating in Anti-Racism or Unlearning Racism or Diversity Training workshops.  While there are many of these offered around the nation, I generally do not recommend these, as in my experience, they are not using healthy models for group facilitation and dialogue, and are overly dependent on Critical Race Theory.  These groups are overly focused on our differences, in particular, what divides us, and most of all, alleged power and privilege differences between us.  I believe that while we all need a chance to tell our stories, and be heard, creating stereotypes about those stories and preferencing division over unity is not the way to achieve our professed goal of racial justice nor larger broader goals like peace on earth.

However, if you really want to participate in such, I’d recommend what is offered by Lee Mun Wah of Stir Fry Productions as I believe what he offers is  at a better, healthier level than others, as his work comes out of somewhat “older school” thinking. He’s been doing this work over 25 years. I took his Unlearning Racism course a couple decades ago.

You can find his site here:
http://www.stirfryseminars.com/about/bios/bios_munwah.php and https://www.stirfryseminars.com/BTC/

He has resources here:

https://stirfryseminars.com/about/index.php

https://stirfryseminars.com/resources/handouts.php

These are exerpts from his Unlearning Racism trainings and/or his movie (which you can rent and watch here  https://www.diversitytrainingfilms.com/films-2/films/  ) called The Color of Fear.

In one of those videos, a black man speaks to white group members explaining angrily that he wants to be seen for who he is.  He wants his ethnicity seen, not ignored.   I strongly agree, deep down, most of us just really want to be seen, and heard, and have a chance to tell our stories.

Along those lines, another resource I want to offer is the “I See You” exercise. It’s a very powerful, intimate way of helping people see and be seen.  I first took part in this exercise over 20 years ago, and still feel its power.  The way it works is that a group of people (and for the purposes of work on race, this could be people of different races) start randomly walking around in a room together, milling around.  When the group facilitator rings a bell, they stop, find the person nearest themselves (for work on race it would be ideal to try to always partner up with someone of another race than yourself). Then, these two partners in the practice, stand in front of each other, and for a full minute simply look into each other’s eyes without speaking. At the end of the minute, the bell rings again, they then acknowledge each other, and continue circling around the room, until the bell rings again and signals them to stop in front of a different partner and practice again.  And so this is repeated maybe 3 or 4 times in all.

If you ever do this exercise with an open heart I think you will end up very moved.  I found I could barely stop tearing up and crying when I did it, it’s incredibly intimate.   To say that it helps people really see each other is quite the understatement.  You are literally looking into another persons’ precious soul.

Introduction: the Origin of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality and Essential Problems with These 

Over the last many decades, really since the civil rights era of the 1950’s and civil unrest of the 1960’s, there has been widespread anger and frustration on many fronts related to race and poverty: there is anger by those who perceive a widespread problem with police brutality, or with institutional racism, there is anger over economic inequality, wage stagnation, lack of adequate health care for the poor,  lack of opportunity, there is anger or despondence too that for all their activism and protesting over many years or decades, many feel little is changing.

Within this cauldron of anger, frustration, grief and despondence, in the last few decades we have seen a movement arise in university settings, which pertain to race, minorities,  and inequality.  Postmodernist, Deconstructionist and Post-Structuralist philosophies such as those of Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault set the stage for theories on race, by introducing questions pertaining to knowledge and power.  The basic idea was to explore how traditional inquiry and knowledge might carry assumptions that left many people and their experiences out, perhaps “white supremacist”, imperialist, colonialist, racist or sexist assumptions, that inadvertently leave people out: perhaps whole cultures might be left out.

Eventually this philosophical attack on “traditional” structures of inquiry, Enlightenment values and traditions of thought, knowledge and power, gave rise to theories emerging in the 1980’s called Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality.  Critical Race Theory, or CRT for short, as its name suggests, is centered in viewing the sociopolitical landscape through the lens of race.  It was begun by Derek Bell.
This article give a good overview of CRT:  https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/subject_specific_writing/writing_in_literature/literary_theory_and_schools_of_criticism/critical_race_theory.html

A video on the theory and its origins, as well as its dangers, can be found here:

Derek Bell

Derek Bell

 

Intersectionality was developed by a colleague of Derek Bell’s named Kimberle Crenshaw. She wrote a paper called “Mapping the Margins” that began developing this theory:
https://www.racialequitytools.org/resourcefiles/mapping-margins.pdf
She sought to use Deconstructionist philosophy, as originated by Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault, to break down the constructions of race, in order to create Identity Politics.
Patricia Hill Collins also helped develop Intersectionality with her work The Matrix of Domination.  

The goal was to push people to identify with their race, and pick apart “powerful races” and “problematize” them, to better advance the agendas of the races deemed to be oppressed.

It is a theory introduced to explore a persons’ “identities”, but not just any random identities.  The point was, as stated in the article below, to create “a framework for conceptualizing a person, group of people, or social problem as affected by a number of discriminations and disadvantages. It takes into account people’s overlapping identities and experiences in order to understand the complexity of prejudices they face.”
https://www.ywboston.org/2017/03/what-is-intersectionality-and-what-does-it-have-to-do-with-me/

The essential message of both CRT and Intersectionality, is the assertion that America is built on racism, replete with racism, that racism and white supremacy is thoroughly embedded in our nation, and that every white person benefits from these whether unconsciously or consciously, and that every person of color is oppressed by these, whether overtly or covertly.  Yet the reasoning here is circular, which is to say illogical.

Circular reasoning is defined as the person beginning with what they are trying to end with. Circular reasoning is often of the form: “A is true because B is true; B is true because A is true.
Critical Race Theory’s argument is thus: we say that America is permeated with racism and white supremacy, race oppression: it’s massively everywhere.  Critical Race Theory’s method is thus: “We will now take out a microscope and begin meticulously scrutinizing our daily lives and yours to find various threads and small shreds of evidence of racism.  Never mind if what we claim is evidence of racism, doesn’t sound like that to you: you’re not black, so obviously you don’t know. Or, if you are black and are saying that isn’t racism, the fact that you’re denying racism just goes to prove that you have a need to collude with the oppressors, perhaps to glean an advantage for yourself.  Or, it might simply be argued: you aren’t really black, you’re actually white inside. ”

Various racist perjoratives, too offensive to repeat here, are in fact commonly used by black people, to dismiss other black people who have the “wrong” views and have not “gotten with the program” and submitted to the orthodoxy.

And then, as you may be beginning to realize, Critical Race Theory’s conclusion is forgone, since its methods care not for logic, or science, statistics or data, or any reason at all, but rather mirror the ipse dixit logical fallacy or method of the bullying parent, “It is because I say it is.”
Hence, the conclusion: we began by wanting to find racism, therefore we decided that what we found was racism, and now we conclude, racism.
Each minute small amount of racism or possible racism that we find, proves that in fact, America is permeated with racism and white supremacy.
And, as black scholar and linguistics professor John McWhorter has often said, and says at the 17 minute mark in this
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPiNiTwf5bM

“There is this…religion, as I’ve written about…whereby if you are white, you validate that by saying you know that racism exists, and if you’re black, part of what gives you a sense of validation, a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging, is to frankly, exaggerate about racism, and cutting through that is a very delicate thing.”

At the same time, each larger incident of racism or alleged racism that is found, far from being ignored or suppressed as one might expect within a system that was massively based in white supremacy and systemic racism, is heavily publicized and published abroad.
To be sure, the images of George Floyd’s death and those of similar situations, can be ghastly and horrific.  They are indeed painful to watch and troubling, and would naturally lead any caring human being to want to ensure such things do not happen again.  Images like this can and should lead to demands for police reform, and studies of police use of force.
Yet at the same time,  the likelihood of an unarmed black man being killed by police is exceptionally small: it’s statistically more probable that he would be killed by a lightning strike.  As Larry Elder, a prominent black conservative commentator says, it’s 18.5 times more likely that a police officer would be killed by a black man, than the other way around.
Larry Elder cop 18 x more likely to be killed by black man

black struck by lightning
A study by Rutgers University found that white police are no more likely than black police to kill unarmed individuals, and thus asserted that the problem is one of policing, not of racism:  https://www.rutgers.edu/news/bad-policing-bad-law-not-bad-apples-behind-disproportionate-killing-black-men-police

More unarmed white men are killed by police than black males, but those cases do not make the news. Which is strange: since one would think otherwise if racism were a quotidian phenomenon, and this were a heavily racist, white supremacist nation. There were 9 unarmed black men killed by police last year, but there were also 19 unarmed white men killed by police last year.  Who knows a single one of their names?  There are videos which show white men with arms up, pleading for their lives when gunned down by police. Those incidents did not lead to protests and riots.

This Wall Street Journal article by a prominent intellectual and member of the think tank the Manhattan Institute, argues that there is no systemic bias in police. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-myth-of-systemic-police-racism-11591119883

Those without a Wall Street Journal subscription can also read the article here:
http://archive.vn/Y1N8d

While police brutality or harassment by police does seem to effect black individuals more than others, in terms of other types of involvement with the criminal justice system, MacDonald says,
“A solid body of evidence finds no structural bias in the criminal-justice system with regard to arrests, prosecution or sentencing. Crime and suspect behavior, not race, determine most police actions….
Research by Harvard economist Roland G. Fryer Jr. [a black American who has done extensive and major work studying this subject: perhaps more so than any other individual] also found no evidence of racial discrimination in shootings. Any evidence to the contrary fails to take into account crime rates and civilian behavior before and during interactions with police.The false narrative of systemic police bias resulted in targeted killings of officers during the Obama presidency. The pattern may be repeating itself. Officers are being assaulted and shot at while they try to arrest gun suspects or respond to the growing riots.”

Roland Fryer’s research can be found on his paper here:
Roland Fryer Study on Racial Disparities in Police Use of Force

Yet the great danger, really an unprecedented danger that I see in this nation at this time, is that the studies I share here, and many other related facts, are being not only ignored but actively suppressed, in favor of rhetoric and ideologies based in distortions, bias, misrepresentation and false claims.   It’s not a matter of people simply having different opinions.  It’s an issue of the predominant narrative being built upon a false narrative,  and a large movement engaging in systemic gaslighting of those who speak to the facts and data.   In fact, I believe that CRT and Identity Politics themselves present a “systemic” issue far more dangerous than “systemic racism” in our nation: systemic gaslighting.  There are “cult-like” issues that pertain to this, and I’ll explore those further below.  One article addressing these is here:  https://newdiscourses.com/2020/06/cult-dynamics-wokeness/

The creation of a false narrative, one not based in facts, or science, statistics, data, or reason, can readily put in danger other lives, black or otherwise.   Many people have now died in the protests, and the number of black on black killings in Chicago on a single day, May 31st,  reached a high point never before seen in the last 60 years.
https://apnews.com/864cb5c14ba08b4411a16577042d0773
And
https://www.forbes.com/sites/tommybeer/2020/06/08/18-people-were-murdered-in-chicago-on-may-31-making-it-the-citys-single-deadliest-day-in-60-years/#5f155a197fb7

“Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said on May 31, the city’s 911 emergency center received 65,000 calls for all types of service, 50,000 more than on a typical day.”

There have been more people killed by protesters than by police during the riots,
protesters kill more than police
and some of those shot or killed have been police.  Black police or security officers (Patrick Underwood) have been shot by snipers in Oakland, shot to death by looters (David Dorn) and other police have been shot, assaulted, ambushed or set on fire.
The ostensible and laudable-sounding goal, as stated in Airbnb’s Allyship guide and statements by Black Lives Matter, Social Justice and Racial Justice movements, is that we want to “end racism“, or make a better world.  But once you begin analyzing the ideological foundations of Black Lives Matter and social justice theories, once you start  “grokking” Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality and Identity Politics, you see that these theories themselves make it look very unlikely that through these means that they espouse,  we could ever end racism or have a better world.  Because you begin to sense that we just can’t get to a point where someone cannot come along with a microscope, and find some minute shred or scrap that, ipse-dixit, presto-bingo,  “because I say it is”, is a sign of racism, and leap quickly from there to concluding that America is thoroughly permeated with racism and white supremacy.

In saying this, I don’t want to seem incognizant or flippant about the real racism in the world, and injustice, which at times can have very painful or tragic consequences.

At the same time, in agreement with the SF Arts Festival Director,  https://www.sfweekly.com/news/sf-movement-arts-festival-director-calls-systemic-racism-a-con-job/    with the amount of work we’ve all done on this issue for many years, our institutions and our nation is less racist now than it was 100 years ago, or 50 years ago.
Yet to listen to BLM or Anti-Racist groups speaking, you would think that things have become much worse over the last 50 years.

As Coleman Hughes says at the 5:20 point in this video,


the Anti-Racist movement has a “supply and demand problem” in that the number of true racists and fascists is now very small.  And thus, the extent to which a movement is successful, it obviates the need for its own existence.  But instead of congratulating itself on reducing racism in the  nation, the Anti-Racist movement has instead expanded the definition of racism, “to the point where, now, basically anything can be called racist, and no one will challenge it…if white people move into a neighborhood, that’s gentrification and it’s racist.  If white people move out of a neighborhood, that’s white flight, and it’s racist.  This doesn’t make sense and it’s not the kind of racism that the civil rights movement was about fighting..and frankly, it diminishes the power of the word racism, which is a very important word.”Racism means nothing does harm
At 10:40 in this video, Coleman Hughes says that “if you visited anywhere else in the world, I think you would recognize that America is one of the least racist places in the world…”

In essence, even though many of their supporters and allies may sincerely believe and legitimately work for their articulated cause, BLM and Social Justice movements are not, at their core, what they claim to be.  Rather than being movements sincerely seeking social justice or racial justice, in some ways the BLM and Social Justice movements are propoganda machines, which seek to further a fictitious narrative about a fictitious, pervasive, massive systemic racism: a narrative that is rapidly becoming mainstreamed.

Thus, it’s very important that people retain an ability to look at the facts involved, and focus on those, rather than on the hysteria in the environment.  Just because people are protesting and rioting around the nation and world, does not mean that there exists legitimate reason for them to do so, or do so in this degree or with this intensity.

Critical Race Theory mirrors the oversimplistic, heavily polarized thinking of our nation as a whole, in that it seems incapable of  nuance, subtlety, a sense of proportion, varying degrees of racism or any injustice.  There are also, under Critical Race Theory, apparently no experiences that a person claiming an identity in a marginalized group has, which can’t be seized on and claimed to represent  everyone in their group.

The CRT and Identity Politics theories also create strong boundaries which would in essence, prohibit those “outside” any given identity group, from commenting on issues deemed related to that group.  We are familiar with these kinds of prohibitions:   “You’re not black, therefore you can’t speak to black issues” or “You’re not gay/queer, thus you can’t speak to LGBQT issues” etc.  This ideology is fundamentally flawed, because there are very few socio-political issues of consequence, which do not impact us all.  And if we are at all impacted by a phenomenon or ideology, we all have a moral right to speak to that issue, as the issue is alive in our lives.  This is particularly if we are looking at something like “racism”.  CRT asserts, in essence, that white people cannot speak about racism: they are the alleged perpetrators, but are not permitted to speak on this issue, argue about what racism is and isn’t, or participate in its definition.

The result is much like arresting someone on an allegation that they committed a crime, say robbing a store, but then, when bringing them to court, refusing to allow them to testify at all, but simply convicting them of the crime based on what others said.

Therefore, when you hear people suggest that you are not allowed to speak to an issue because you’re not part of that group, I urge you to refuse to accept being silenced, and speak from what you observe, and feel and see and need.  Your observations, feelings and needs are not irrelevant, as I will elaborate on further below when explaining how NonViolent Communication works.

Back to the subject of people presumptuously claiming they can speak for an entire group or race.

Just yesterday I picked up a newspaper from my local university.  In it there is an opinion piece by a black woman, Savon Bardell,  who  recounts an experience of police looking (“glaringly”)  in her direction when she walked onto campus, and she then claims that “this experience encapsulates the reality of Black Americans everywhere.”   Under Critical Race Theory, she gives herself permission to stereotype a whole group of people and to speak for  them, as though everyone in that group had the same experience.  This is simply false, and it’s also dangerous and offensive, as it silences those, perhaps a minority within any given group, or even possibly the majority whom a minority presumes to speak for,  who have different experiences. UCB Paper article (2)

But this assumption that individuals can speak for entire groups is encouraged by CRT and Identity Politics, which heavily emphasize the importance of the group over the individual.  James Lindsay does an excellent job in this video, which I included above, in pointing out some of the problems with CRT and related theories.  They minimize the importance of the individual and instead exaggerate the importance of group identity, which results in a loss of individual responsibility.  People are no longer seen as individuals, but simply as conglomerations of group identities.  As James Lindsay says, this loss of ability to see individuals, even threatens the legal system and the “reasonable person” standard generally used in courts of law.  There no longer is a “reasonable person”, since the individual can claim that the court’s idea of a “reasonable person” privileges one racial group, and argue that from the perspective of someone in a different group, they might have a different sort of “reasonableness.”  This points up the problematic moral relativism at the basis of CRT.

The threat to our legal justice system by arguments based in CRT is real.  Instead of following Martin Luther King Jr’s beautiful dream and pushing for equality, justice for all, and “color blindness” in our legal and justice system and throughout our nation,MLK dream
Critical Race Theory actually pushes us toward a new bias, a new form of preference, in essence a new type of “supremacy.”  City Council members and District Attorneys in San Francisco (Chesa Boudin, whose politics veer to the Marxist) and beyond are pushing for policies which would show favoritism towards certain races above others.  Decline to prosecute blacks

Recently, in Tacoma, a city nonprofit offered rent relief for those experiencing financial hardship during the pandemic…but rent relief only for people of color.  https://twitter.com/RubinReport/status/1271277882162114560
Tacoma racist law

Getting back to Savon Bardells’ opinion piece: she professes to speak for all black people, but as we intuitively grasp, not all claims will be equally privileged, in terms of those wishing to speak for “the group”

For instance, the following accounts represent the many black individuals who would repudiate the views of this opinion writer Savon Bardell.   Yet we can be sure that individuals like these would not be invited to write an opinion piece, editorial or article on the protests or Floyd incident.

black oppression is fake

Black man says he is not oppressed

Black man and not oppressed

WHy are we protesting
Owens on white privilege
Rachel is conservative

Here’s another person of color who renounces the victimhood narrative as applied to people of color:  https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/liberal-minorities-victimhood-identity

Glenn Loury, Shelby Steele,  John McWhorter,  Coleman Hughes and many others also have things to say which do not reflect the positions of Black Lives Matter or positions issuing out of Critical Race Theory.

So, given two black individuals who are making opposite claims, whom are we to believe? Whose story will be “privileged”?  At this point, the factors of power and privilege do indeed come into play.  And first  the halls of power in academia, and now those in government and corporations, are ceding not to whites or white supremacists, but to the claims and narratives issued by organizations like Black Lives Matter, and other Social Justice organizations founded in Critical Race Theory.  Hence this satirical comment:

You can be fired for saying all lives matter

At Twitter, some opinions or views are “privileged” over others, and it’s not “white privilege” which is at play here. Twitter does not consider racism when against white
Similar bias on Twitter exists in terms of gay and lesbian issues, feminist views as compared to trans views, by the way.  Trans voices are “privileged”, while gay & lesbian voices, feminist and “gender critical” voices are censored.

Note the humorous irony: Savon Bardell also refers to how she will “never tire of speaking about my Blackness”, as if there are any obstacles at all for her to do so, in her privileged place in one of the top public and most liberal universities in the nation.  She seems oblivious to the fact that she is also privileged to receive a prominent position to speak about her Blackness, in a newspaper, whose other articles this week not surprisingly given the politics at UC Berkeley and most universities, show obeisance to the narrative flowing from Critical Race Theory and enshrining Black Lives Matter, with one article entitled, “All Americans Should aid Black Lives Matter”, another Op-Ed entitled “To aspiring white allies: it’s time to begin your journey, unlearn racism” and the Editor’s Note article is entitled “The Daily Californian Will Work to Improve Diversity.”
Is this the kind of assortment of writings we’d find in a nation whose every institution was permeated by white supremacy and massive racism?

Berkeley is a very liberal city, but really in universities around the nation, regardless where they are, Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality and Identity Politics have become entrenched, and have now begun quite rapidly to be mainstreamed.  I’ll explore more of that in just a bit.  But first…

Taking a Closer Look at Airbnb’s Allyship Guide

Now, since I’ve asserted that Airbnb’s “Activism and Allyship Guide” is based in CRT and Intersectionality Theories, let me point to the reasons I say this, and make some critiques of what is offered in the Guide, before going on to critique these theories further.

Airbnb’s Guide opens with a bland and relatively meaningless statement about injustice, “Injustice is something that exists in the world and is faced daily by many different types of people. ” It then quickly jumps from there into explaining that injustices can range from microaggressions to death by those who “invalidate a black person’s life.”  As we’ve seen in the Purdue university article, the term “microaggressions” issues from Critical Race Theory.  As well, the term “allyship” is often used in Critical Race Theory.
The Allyship Guide goes on to refer to “advancing the cause of racial justice” and “referencing works from experts in anti-racism” and then begins to reference “privileges that you enjoy that have created the realities that marginalized people face.”  It then lays out a three phase plan to “use your privilege to help marginalized communities.”  The term “white privilege” is an important term in CRT, as mentioned in the Purdue article, and these plans for working reflect a worldview based in CRT.
Of the “Anti-racism resources” listed, we find works by authors and thinkers such as Kimberly Crenshaw, Peggy MacIntosh, Ibram X. Kendi,   and bell hooks, whose thinking either helped form or exists in support of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality.

The Anti Racism resources provided:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BRlF2_zhNe86SGgHa6-VlBO-QgirITwCTugSfKie5Fs/preview?pru=AAABcqVuRmQ*ThzmXaW6UVpcU2koMr7SoQ

Among the resources provided, note there are none at all which would critique the tenets of Critical Race Theory or the Anti-Racism movement.  And it’s not as though no one who doesn’t support CRT or tow the line on this theory, has written on racism or other forms of marginalization.  Quite the opposite, there are many brilliant thinkers, intellectuals and academics who’ve addressed issues of racism, systemic racism, police reform, police brutality, restorative justice and related topics, but they are not cited here, because what they have to say does not fit with the “orthodoxy” of Critical Race Theory.  Which is to say, their ideas and thoughts are not privileged, are not deemed part of the privileged narrative, which in spite of incidents like the death of George Floyd and others in the hands of police,  is becoming an ever more powerful and dominant narrative in our nation.  Some of these thinkers include:
Nicholas Christakis
Shelby Steele
Jonathan Haidt of the Heterodox Academy
Heather Heying
Bret Weinstein
Helen Pluckrose
Peter Boghossian
Bari Weiss a New York Times Columnist
Heather MacDonald
Thomas Sowell
Coleman Hughes
Glenn Loury
John McWhorter
James Lindsay
Walter Williams
Dave Rubin of the Rubin Report
Candace Owens
Ben Carson
Larry Elder

Other intellectuals and scholars, journalists worthy of listening to are pointed to by Bari Weiss here:
https://twitter.com/bariweiss/status/1271162939962044417

In fact, as I will go on to describe, one of the main reasons for leaving out the voices of those who have other kinds of views, is that, in fact, Critical Race Theory and its progeny, the Black Lives Matter, the “Anti-Racism Movement”, is in some ways,  a form of secular fundamentalist religion, a cult.  And as in any fundamentalist religion, those who are not adherents to the orthodox doctrine, must be cast out as blasphemers.

One of the best tools to sideline and silence blasphemers, eg, any and all voices of dissent,  is also included in Airbnb’s Guide.  It is centered in the use of the term “white fragility” to refer to anyone who doesn’t get with the program and “testify”.  Tossed aside as blasphemers will be those “fragiles” who fail to admit that they’ve actually been racist all along, and will always remain so unless they put in really really hard work for the rest of their lives.

The term was developed by Robin DiAngelo, when she wrote the book “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism”
In the last week, numerous major media have called on white people to read DiAngelo’s book or become aware of her theory, and get appropriately indoctrinated into the awareness that there is really no room for them to disagree:
https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/07/health/white-fragility-robin-diangelo-wellness/index.html
And
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/06/05/dear-white-people-please-read-white-fragility/
And
https://www.vogue.co.uk/arts-and-lifestyle/article/eni-subair-racism-social-media

Thus, the position that “good” white people are put in, those who dutifully read and assimilate the required teachings, is that of occupying an increasingly small space.  The frustration about this experience is expressed in comments like these:

No way to win if white
If a white person racism

As the astute thinker will realize, if the accusation “racist” can be increasingly used to refer to and dismiss virtually any person or worldview which is not in line with Critical Race Theory, this actually diminishes the term itself, it weakens it.  The “Cry Wolf” phenomenon is actually a danger to the “real” social justice movement, insofar as the move to apply the accusation “racist” to an increasing number of trivial issues, even simply to differences in worldview, eventually renders the term meaningless. And it would be tragic if at some point in the near future, a large number of people begin delcaring that they could care less about racism, because they’ve come to realize that “everything” is racist and the term is vapid and empty.
Racism means nothing does harm

Getting back to Airbnb’s Allyship Guide:
One of the first difficulties we meet with this Guide, is a subtle one.  Notice that wherever black people are referred to, the term is capitalized: they are Black people.  Yet wherever white people are referred to, the term is not capitalized: they are white people.  This is not an accident of keyboarding: and it’s a slight, a diminishment, a form of disrespect, which when we look deeper into these theories, we will see magnified.

This subtle way of putting down the entire race of white people as compared to blacks, is gaining traction apparently…it’s also used here in this editorial published in the Daily Californian, the student newspaper of UC Berkeley, one of the major public universities in the US with over 30,000 students.  UCB BLM article (2)

The next difficulty with the Guide is the use of the term “privilege”, which is here defined in this way:
“Social privilege is a special, unearned advantage or entitlement, used to one’s own benefit or to the detriment of others. Groups can be advantaged based on social class, age, disability, ethnic or racial category, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and religion.”
The difficulty created here is a significant one, in that here we see the Guide and Critical Race Theory doing what it states it seeks to end: which is engage in a form of stereotyping, based on assigning people to superficial categories.  These identities, which are what are referred to with the term “Identity Politics”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identity_politics, are not random identities, but only those pertaining to groups considered to be “marginalized.”  Thus under this worldview, you would not consider being a “plumber” or “teacher” or “writer” an identity of note, even if it happens to be figure to a considerable degree in how you see yourself.  Not all identities are equally created; in fact, the irony here, particularly in light of the use of the term “privilege”,  is that within the realm of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality, marginalized identities are privileged ones.  Other types of identities, the ones not reflecting some sort of marginalized status,  are more or less irrelevant.

The objection may arise that of course we have to focus primarily on categories by which people are marginalized, if we are talking about forms of oppression. Yet there is an unintentional consequence here, which is that we begin to see the essential negativity and pessimism of CRT, how it disempowers rather than empowers individuals.  It emphasizes the negative, what is alleged to be wrong or unjust in the world: ways in which a person can claim to be victimized or oppressed.
In fact, as we all intuitively understand if we begin to think about it,  in order to be helped by Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality, it would not do to be a black person and claim you hadn’t experienced much racism in your life, or a gay or disabled person saying you had not experienced any negative consequences as a result of these “identities.”  Rather, we can intuitively understand that in order to benefit from these theories, which posit a world chock full of racism, individuals of each of the marginalized groups will be expected to make reports and tell stories that support the CRT theory.

Thus by degrees we come to  an impasse and a contradiction within CRT.  Let me here move away from commenting on Airbnb’s Guide and begin first explaining the mainstreaming of CRT and then further critiquing the CRT worldview it’s based in.

The Mainstreaming of Critical Race Theory

The Critical Race Theory reflected in Airbnb’s Guide, is no longer simply found in academia.  It is rapidly becoming mainstreamed, and the Guide itself represents the fact that it’s now found in many if not most corporations.  Over the last 5 years, we’ve seen an explosion of use of the term “Systemic Racism”, which is a key tenet of Critical Race Theory, in the media, as this chart reveals.
Systemic racism as percentage of all words
See this as well which elaborates:
https://twitter.com/ZachG932/status/1267507175011819520
Moreover, over the last many years it has become virtually imperative for major US corporations to have a “Diversity Department”, and diversity hiring practices.  However, the reference to diversity is only skin-deep, as diversity of ideology is not encouraged.  Quite the opposite, as I’ll explore further.  It’s become increasingly common for academics or former academics like Jonathan Haidt, Bret Weinstein, Bari Weiss, Glenn Loury,  Heather MacDonald and Coleman Hughes to lament that humanities departments and soft science depts at universities have for all intents and purposes become center of indoctrination, where, in the midst of institutions ostensibly oriented to free expression of thought and exploration of ideas and critical thinking, an increasing number of students feel afraid to express their opinions. Bret Weinstein, a biology professor at Evergreen college, was chased off campus with students wielding baseball bats, after he asserted that a “Day of Absence” in which white people were asked not to come to campus, was racist, and that he would not be complying with this directive. He eventually had to resign his position.

Nicholas Christakis, professor at Yale University, argued for student’s freedom of expression in Halloween costumes, and as a result was surrounded by angry bullying students, one who called him disgusting, who demanded he apologize for his “racism” and hurting their feelings.  He had to resign from his position at Yale university.

More recently, a group of students at UCLA began calling for the firing of a professor, all because he refused to cancel a final exam due to “grief over George Floyd’s death.”  This kind of infantilizing of students, the exaggeration of their grievances, and the weaponizing of grievances to take out programs, policies, professors and staff, is actually quite common on universities, and it’s quite dangerous.  UCLA students demand professor firing over no cancellation of exams

That professor did end up getting suspended. https://ktla.com/news/local-news/ucla-professor-suspended-after-refusing-leniency-to-black-students-on-final-exams/

A data scientist was fired for tweeting about a black scholar’s work arguing for the effectiveness of peaceful protest over violent protest.  A preference for nonviolent protest was deemed “racist.”  https://twitter.com/jenbrea/status/1271148784316108800

Other academics are being threatened with expulsion if they post commentary critiquing BLM.
https://jonathanturley.org/2020/06/12/cornell-professors-declare-informed-commentary-criticizing-the-protests-as-racism/disagree with BLM and you will be fired

This comment by NYT writer Thomas Chatterton Williams gets to the point.  It’s no longer sufficient to simply strongly disagree with someone: the “Woke Cult” is demanding heavy punishment for dissent, and takes the position that people who do not conform with the orthodox ideology, should not have a job.  Cancel Culture wants ppl to not be able to work (1)

Universities themselves are trying to keep students from freely expressing themselves. Greg Lukianoff tells the story of this.  and in one video he explains how a student got in trouble for reading a certain book on campus because someone else walked by and, at a glance, misunderstood what the book was about.

All this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Similar silencing of dissent has gone on for quite a while with regard to transgender issues and those who take a “gender critical” view.  In the UK, Maya Forstater lost her job, because of her philosophical views.  https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/dec/18/judge-rules-against-charity-worker-who-lost-job-over-transgender-tweets
Hundreds of people, including famous Harry Potter author JK Rowling, have been “cancelled” or experienced death threats due to their philosophical views on this topic.

This kind of university support of bullying, university enabling of students seeking to manipulate the institution itself into silencing dissenting voices, is not only quite widespread in higher institutions now, but it is being mainstreamed into corporate America.  It is a chilling and very disturbing phenomenon, particularly since it’s the higher institutions themselves which are responsible for teaching critical thinking skills and which have traditionally been strongly supportive of free speech. The modern form of the  “Social Justice Movement” based in Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality,  and Identity Politics, however, actually opposes free speech, as it deems free speech “unsafe”, and compares speech representing alternative ideologies, to murder, in the sense that it is claimed such speech “invalidates people’s lives.”  As one can see, such ideologies are extremely patronizing and condescending, infantilizing people as they do, defining individuals as incapable of withstanding alternative points of view. With tragic irony,  those labelling themselves “anti-fascist”, are those using fascist means to suppress free speech.
https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4777807/user-clip-heather-mac-donald-free-speech-college-campuses

The best way to combat bad ideas, is to refute those with better ideas.  Civil debate has been a hallmark of Western Civilization: it is one of the primary means by which we distinguish ourselves from dictatorships.  Yet the movements founded in CRT, believe in supression, censorship, and ad hominem attacks instead of logical argument.  I believe that the primary reason for this is that the bad ideas involved, are those in Critical Race Theory itself: it is illogical in its foundations, and cannot stand cross-examination.  Thus, it attempts to use the methods of dictators and tyrants instead of those of democracy and debate, in order to “win.”  And should the movements it supports gain political ground and traction across America, we are in danger of seeing the form of government it generates, also using its methods: eg, we could see a return to dictatorship and tyranny, after our 250 year existence founded as a democracy.  I believe that many in the Social Justice Movement do not actually seek those ideals they vocalize, ideals like an end to racism, equality, justice.  Rather what they want is power.

It’s fairly well understood, as Shelby Steele has pointed out, that many white people live in abject terror that they might be called racist, there is extraordinary power that black and other nonwhite individuals wield in their ability to use the term “racist” to dismiss, or perhaps even to invite ruin onto other’s lives: a number of people  have lost their job for a comment made in poor taste or even at times for a misunderstanding.  I don’t know if there are statistics on these, the “collateral damage” of the mainstreaming of Critical Race Theory.

We can allude to this phenomenon as the “Cancel Culture” or by other terms, but it is not a rare occurrence.  In fact it’s a fairly common experience among the “white privileged” people of this nation, that in institutions or corporations or communities which have incorporated CRT ideology (which is an increasing number of places) they are told in one way or another, in person or in dialogue online, to shut up, to sit down, to stop speaking because they are racist.  Check your privilege, or “get over your white fragility” is what people often hear when they say something that doesn’t fit with the prevailing narrative, which again, ironically, is the privileged narrative.

Problems and Contradictions with Critical Race Theory

I mentioned earlier that I thought that, down deep, most people really want to be seen and heard, and that providing people the chance to tell their story, could be healing for both themselves and others.
Critical Race Theory ostensibly places a high value on telling one’s own story.  In this work “What’s Wrong with Critical Race Theory”, on page 8 of this document:

What_s Wrong with Critical Race Theory

Is written:
“Stories, parables, chronicles, and narratives are powerful means for destroying mindset-the bundle of presuppositions, received wisdoms, and shared understandings [in our] legal and political discourse …. They can show that what we believe is ridiculous, self-serving or cruel.”‘ Storytelling, as will soon be clear, is a central feature of CRT  discourse; indeed, since 1989, when these words were written, a thousand stories have bloomed. Columbia University law professor Patricia Williams recounts a number of these stories in her book, The Rooster’s Egg.”

Patricia Williams
Patricia Williams

And:

http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/155304.htm

I actually think story telling is a fabulous way of expressing one’s truth, whether one is writing fiction, fantasy, mythology, or autobiography.  Certainly for many who feel that their story has been left out of the dominant discourse, will benefit from telling their story, and feeling satisifed that others are listening.  And in fact I think some of the best resources given in Airbnb’ Guide, are the fiction and autobiographical works listed there, such as books by James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, Maya Angelou, Kiese Laymon,  Toni Morrison, Isabel Wilkerson.

The problem though that arises for CRT vis a vis stories, is the same issue that arises vis a vis identities: the unwritten rule in the system is that only the “marginalized” ones are really of value for the cause.  So to begin with, only those who are in “marginalized” groups are considered to have stories worthy to hear, their stories are in Critical Race Theory, the privileged ones.  The “white woman’s tears” are not wanted and indeed may be mocked, as in this article dismissively entitled “Save the Tears” which is included in Airbnb’s Guide:  https://tatianamac.com/posts/save-the-tears/

This article includes such contemptuously entitled references as “How to Be Less Stupid About Race”, and refers to this article https://slate.com/human-interest/2019/09/white-fragility-robin-diangelo-workshop.html 

which is about the work mentioned above by Robin DiAngelo,  one of the recommended anti-racism resources in Airbnb’s Allyship guide.  Her book, “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism“,  is referred to in this way by Heather Heying, whose husband is Bret Weinstein mentioned above.
https://twitter.com/HeatherEHeying/status/1269642555680894978

Heying on DiAngelo
Heather Heying talking about white fragility

As Heying and others have noticed, the term “white fragility” essentially is used much as the term “blasphemer” among fundamentalist sects.  Anyone who doesn’t accept any and every part of the doctrine, is dismissed as suffering from “white fragility.”  There’s literally no way to be respected if you stand outside the system created by Critical Race Theory ideology, as for instance an individual espousing an alternate philosophy or theory.  Everything inside the sect is right, everyone outside is wrong.  And this is how you recognize a cult.  But can we recognize a cult when it’s spreading across our nation?

Whites are deemed essentially “fragile”, and yet signs of humanity, such as crying, may also be held in contempt.  Here’s a paper that argues about “How White Women’s Tears Oppress Women of Color”

How White Womens Tears Oppress Women of Color

So it may become apparent as I go along here, that under Critical Race Theory, the stories which will be invited to be told, are those which support Critical Race Theory, and not others.  It’s implied that white people’s stories aren’t wanted, because the assumption is that they have already been told, and are reflected in the dominant paradigm.  But as well, perhaps this is less obvious: the stories of “marginalized” people aren’t likely to be wanted, if they don’t conform to the theory, which again, sees a world full of racism, and experiences of racism.

Another comment on the way that white people figure into Critical Race Theory: unlike the marginalized people, who are encouraged to tell their individual stories, from which it is expected that new philosophies will emerge to challenge reigning paradigms, white people are not really expected to tell their stories.  Yet this doesn’t mean that white people aren’t talked about.  They are, but they are generally referred to as a group, eg as “whiteness”, not as individuals.  So, their individual stories aren’t valued, except I suppose when they have to tell of their “woke conversion” which seems to necessarily involve attesting the creedal formula  “I am aware of my white privilege“, in much the way in which, in Christian fundamentalism, one is expected to be born again, and recite the saving words “I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

Lest this comparison seem mere hyperbole, during the last week in particular,  there have arisen many scenes of quasi-religious submissive behavior on the part of white people either toward black persons, or groups, or involving dogma or creedal attestations

https://twitter.com/GodCloseMyEyes/status/1267654392418885633

https://twitter.com/LankLondon/status/1267526369925185536

https://twitter.com/fitzfromdublin/status/1267923416398643201

https://twitter.com/PreetRang/status/1267413715726581765

Even white police and National Guard members are kneeling before black protesters, black rioters, even in some cases when black individuals are screaming at them.

https://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2020/06/02/police-kneel-with-protesters-moos-pkg-ebof-vpx.cnn

https://twitter.com/GadiNBC/status/1267945648705298433

Here, police officers kneel before black people to wash their feet.

https://twitter.com/BretWeinstein/status/1269827367515480065

https://twitter.com/UncleSamsNation/status/1269754584270069762

Here a police officer lies on his belly with his hands behind his back, before black activists.

https://twitter.com/JGilliam_SEAL/status/1269705939755642881

Imagine having to enforce the law in a city after everyone in the city has seen you willingly allow yourself to be humiliated in public like this.

In this video, major political leaders, including Nancy Pelosi, kneel on the ground while wearing African fabrics:
https://twitter.com/jason_howerton/status/1270065883617079297

And an African woman complains about their use of these traditional African materials:
https://twitter.com/Diogenes_Truth7/status/1270138556313411585

In fact the number of scenes of people getting on their knees before black persons, was such that one commenter created a video about this and the hashtag #GetUpOffYourKnees

https://twitter.com/michellemalkin/status/1268047761301098496

What is going on here, and do these scenes which essentially seem to involve public humiliation of white people, really benefit anyone? Will all of this reduce racism in the world, will it make the world a better place? Will it really help correct problems and injustices in the world, if we make people more obedient?  If we force them to recite the catechism of Critical Race Theory?

Consider for a moment what would actually be required, in terms of personality traits, temperament, and ego strength, if you were a person in a community, institution, corporation, police department or other setting, where systemic racism existed, and you felt called upon to challenge that. Suppose the whole system or nearly all of it was rotten, and someone needed to confront authority and stand up to the racism present there.  Do you imagine that this could best be done by grooming white people to be obedient, to conform, to be subservient, to accept what they are taught without question, to doubt themselves and perennially question their worthiness, to be afraid to challenge the status quo, to refuse to question authority?
Of course not.  If there are really completely rotten institutions in the nation or world that need people to stand up to them, those people need to be courageous, they need to be independent-minded, they need to be able to question authority and defy convention…and that is most decidedly NOT the kind of white person being developed by the Woke Cult, by Critical Race Theory, and the Social Justice and Black Lives Matter movements. Conformists

That humiliating scenes like this can be found, is not helpful to anyone.   The fact that this is happening, is related to a phenomenon called White Guilt,  which was so well explained by Shelby Steele, which can be used to manipulate white people, and cause them to hate themselves, even to the extremes such as have been in the news with some white people feeling a need to express utter contempt for their race.  In Lauren Michelle Jackson’s article, which I find valuable, though not for the reasons it was included among resources in Airbnb’s Guide https://slate.com/human-interest/2019/09/white-fragility-robin-diangelo-workshop.html   she refers to “I was joined to my left by a woman named Mary, who would soon share with me the racial shame of her white burden.”

White burden: as Shelby Steele explains so well in his book Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country, that “liberalism has been wholly concerned with redeeming modern America from the sins of the past, and has derived its political legitimacy from the premise of a morally bankrupt America.”  These “past sins” are held by Critical Race Theory to be “white sins”, and hence we see, in Critical Race Theory, the reference to “whiteness” as something bankrupt, empty, something dirty, or innately oppressive.

This article addresses this pathologizing of whiteness and of white people: https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/06/03/i-did-not-kill-george-floyd/

Thus while one can have a university department featuring “Black Studies” in terms of offering courses to boost pride in one’s heritage, the converse would be unthinkable:  “White Studies” could not exist to support pride in ancestry, heritage or traditions, but rather must instill guilt and to correct the presumptive “original sin” of being white.  In university it’s called “Whiteness Studies” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whiteness_studies, and “Whiteness” is ineluctably related to something “bad” and indeed burdensome, in terms of being a reference to greater status, privilege, or even the source of systemic racism.

One of the saddest things I see in all of this, is how originally well-intentioned efforts to bring about more justice, peace, harmony and less suffering for black people and other minorities, have led to two dysfunctional results.  First, there is degree of escape from ordinary conventions of accountability and just, respectful behavior that is permitted for blacks or other marginalized persons, as the understanding is, through its basis in moral relativism, that the very basis for objectivity, facts, rule, policy, laws is open to question as perhaps being sourced in white supremacy or a racist system.  It is for this reason that we can hear a response, for instance, when a journalist asks a black woman if she thinks looting is acceptable, “White people have looted from us.”

In a video posted on Twitter, a black woman confronts white women who are cleaning Black Lives Matter graffitti off a public building, and shames them for using their “white privilege” in a way that she interpreted as trying to diminish the message of BLM.
https://twitter.com/DigitalForests/status/1268363871661838338

Thus we can see some black people using Critical Race Theory to feel free to abandon social norms and civil order, to justify crime, looting, and vandalism, while on the other hand, white people contract and shrink themselves, become obedient, fearful, passive, self-flagellating, miserable. In the video in the above link, the white women being scolded, as we would expect, do not feel free to chide the black woman speaking, for her support of vandalism. They have been shamed into a corner and thus can’t stand up for what is right.

In fact, this is not just white people doing this to themselves: they are literally expected to and instructed to do this.  Critical Race Theory helps support the creation of something that might be viewed as a “Superego on Steroids” for white people, such that they must always be scrutinizing themselves to find ever more flaws, ever more hidden and unconscious bias or racism.  There is literally no end to this requirement to investigate one’s own white psyche to find residue of their tainting, their original sin,  from being born in a system of white supremacy.

The requirement to ceaselessly examine oneself to find traces of racism and privilege, one’s original sins, is apparently a “whites only” requirement, not something required for other races.
The centrality of the concept of white privilege to CRT, and the start of this obsessive, lurid and depressing requirement  to look within to find one’s sins,  was born in 1988 with Peggy MacIntosh, https://www.wcwonline.org/images/pdf/White_Privilege_and_Male_Privilege_Personal_Account-Peggy_McIntosh.pdf

As Jackson’s article makes clear,  white women struggling in this difficult situation that CRT puts them into, are likely to be  scrutinized and WILL end up reported on as deficient. Because there is simply no way to “win” and turn out to be a good person, under CRT, not only not for white people, but really for anyone. As James Lindsay says at minute 50  in this video, “The second you accept the Intersectional approach as valid, your privilege makes you lose.  You cannot win.”

While many whites who seek to support the cause of social or racial justice may congratulate themselves on their liberal and progressive wokeness, Jackson assures us that “White progressives … are also the group most responsible for the social exhaustion that people of color experience on a daily basis.”
Jackson watches white women in the workshop on systemic racism struggle to say the right thing.  She not surprisingly feels that  “the right answers…were boring.”
White people are often told, “check your privilege”, and “own your privilege”, and these good white women in the workshop tried to do that, and ended up thus appraised:

“putting whiteness into speech … however critically, is not an anti-racist action.” Declaring that whiteness exists—for others or oneself—does not, itself, do anything. Saying “I have privilege” does not do anything besides make the speaker feel good, and feeling good is anathema to social change”

Even Robin DiAngelo, the author of the book White Fragility, is cut down with this critique: “DiAngelo knows the choreography well and attends rehearsals without fail. She turns away and away and away again from the worst of what whiteness (studies) may bring.”

As well,  white people may be considered suspect if they seek to live free and simple peaceful lives, free of spending the required amount of time dutifully contemplating racism.

“White equilibrium is a cocoon of racial comfort, centrality, superiority, entitlement, racial apathy, and obliviousness, all rooted in an identity of being good people free of racism”White comfort cr

All in all, this article makes it clear that if you are a white person interested in throwing your energy into a movement issuing out of Critical Race Theory, you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.  

James Lindsay elaborates at about minute 22

there is really no way at all for whites to become “good” and virtuous under Critical Race Theory.  Those not accepting the system at all are termed “gleeful racists” or are automatically dismissed as having an abundance of “white fragility”.
Those who seek to help the black community by “using their white privilege” to speak for them, now can stand accused of speaking for a group of which they are not a part and therefore do not know anything.  Those who seek to be “allies” to the black community, can be cynically criticized as “trying to gain status by trying to appear as a good white” or “trying to insulate themselves from criticism” and operating in their own self-interest to appear good.

Again, there literally is no way for whites, or really anyone, to simply stand outside the theory and disagree with it, and still be respected simply as people with a different point of view, because the theory, like any fundamentalist religion or cult, requires demonizing or vilifying all those who reject its orthodox teachings, its fundamentalist dogma.

The second dysfunctional result is the psychological torture that as we can see in the videos of subservient kneeling, the obsequious videos showing white people humiliating themselves by standing in front of groups and stiffly admitting their perceived wrongs or guilt or acknowledging “white privilege.  There is a future of truly “cringe-worthy” contraction,  self-loathing, torment and self-doubt for many white people as they don’t seem to find a healthy way to “correctly” inhabit the space allotted for them by the orthodoxy of this theory.  White people who wish to “fit in correctly” can feel obliged to contract, shrink down, not take up too much space, apologize for themselves, get with the program, be submissive and obedient.  Eg, to do and be exactly what, 30 years ago, caused women to awake into feminism, because they refused to do this or be like this any more.

Taken together, these two dysfunctional results comprise a relational and interpersonal problem with Critical Race Theory. It impacts the relationship, both personal and structural/social,  that is posited between the “marginalized” individuals, and those who are “privileged.”  As we see in Airbnb’s Guide, there are two categories of people, marginalized people on the one hand, and privileged “allies” on the other hand.  Again, I want to point out the irony here:  the “allies”, white or at least not black, who are deemed to be “privileged” under this theory and within this guide and the context of recent events with the death of George Floyd, are actually sidelined and thus “de-privileged” within CRT, as they are relegated to the realm of “helpers”, and not just that, but helpers who are basically told what to do.   Note that in Airbnb’s Guide, there isn’t a single recommendation to readers, to do what I actually think would be most valuable, which is to explore this issue in depth and thoughtfully, to think for themselves and come up with their own views on issues of racial justice, police brutality, racism and institutional racism, the death of George Floyd, or the civil unrest thereafter which included massive rioting and looting and destruction of property.  Rather the resources given, assume that what is needed is for whites as “allies” to simply fall into line with the orthodoxy, the “teachings” or indeed the “religion” of this Guide, and with Critical Race Theory on which it is founded.

It may not at first glance be obvious what the relational implications of this are.  Some would say that the relationship between whites and blacks in this nation has always been overlaid by inequality and power imbalance, with whites telling their stories and blacks being sidelined, relegated to shut up and listen.  And so they may see an opportunity for healing in a situation where black people and their experience are given prominence and whites are taking a back seat for a change, as listeners now.

However, in any meaningful friendship or relationship, you cannot have an imbalance where one person is allowed to tell their truth, and the other is not, and is relegated to a supportive role.  The fact that black experience and stories have in some contexts (perhaps in Middlesville USA, but not in the African veld or in black families or communities, black universities) been historically sidelined, will not be solved by now privileging their stories and sidelining white stories or expressing contempt for “white tears.”

The relational problem also correlates to Systems Theories which affect every group system: this pertains to the way that a group is made dysfunctional when it shuts down or subordinates a part of itself. So in the same way that white supremacy or white racism have caused harm through subordinating black people’s experience or in any way invalidating the beauty of their lives or making them “lesser” beings, a community or group setting which would subordinate or silence those white individuals who are part of it, creates a “shadow” element, which can then deprive the group of necessary feedback upon its functioning.   The basic idea is that people cannot make themselves whole, by trying to put others down or allow others to be less than whole, or not allowed their full expression and freedom.

This stifling of all dissent is where Critical Race Theory is most at odds with classical liberalism.  Most of us who are now middle aged and grew up as liberals, grew up with “Question Authority” T-shirts and posters. Yet we now find ourselves in the disturbing position of having the so-called liberal and progressive leaders, insisting that we go along with the program, and do not question their authority.

Question Authority

A functional system depends upon the feedback it gains from all its members.  In unhealthy families, for instance, abusive members are able to continue their abuse, because a dominant narrative has been formed, that privileges the abusive member in relationship to the individual who is being abused.  Frequently this takes the shape of a child abused by one of the parents.  Even if the child were to tell others in the family about the abuse, chances are in many cases that they would not be believed, or would be shamed into silence, because what they had to say challenged the dominant narrative about the family and that abusive individual.  While some might attempt to rectify this, through a campaign called “Always Believe Children” or “Believe All Women”, the fact is that some children tell fictional stories and some women are liars.  One can’t simply invert the existing power imbalance and expect utopia.

Even if the group involved contains no white individuals, only black persons, the tenets of Critical Race Theory still create a shadow in the group, because they require that all those black people tow the line and follow the orthodoxy: in essence, that they submit to the religious screed.  And here is where the neat categories of marginalized identities as defined in Identity Politics and Intersectionality begin to break down, when the rubber meets the road.

Not all people in any one “marginalized” group, be it a group of black people, Asians, of gay and lesbian people, trans people, disabled, or any type of marginalized people, will have the same experience, and not all of them will have the “correct” experience, as per the requirements of the theories’ orthodox teachings.  See, you just cannot require people to have a certain kind of experience.

The way groups attempt to deal with this, is to dismiss those with the “wrong” stories or views.  This kind of dismissal is exactly what black people report, black thinkers and intellectuals, high achieving people who’ve spent decades of  their lives studying these issues, when the things they have to say don’t fit the orthodoxy.  They experience so much outright dismissal and hatred, that it becomes very depressing.  Candace Owens relates that experience in this video where she expresses her views on George Floyd’s death:
https://twitter.com/RealCandaceO/status/1268280610818101248

But again, look at what you’re doing: if you’ve got a majority group, which promotes a dominant, privileged narrative, in this case Critical Race Theory, and you’re trying to silence and shut down, not through argument but  by name-calling, dissenting voices, what are you doing, except what you are complaining has been done to you for centuries through white supremacy and white racism.  You’re trying to silence those who are in the minority, are inconvenient, with whom you don’t agree, who don’t fit your cultural narrative or story or values or philosophy.

bright light

The Bright Light of Open, Honest Mutual Dialogue

One of the better suggested resources in Airbnb’s Guide, in my opinion, is the suggestion to be involved in what are referred to as “Daring Discussions.”  This resource is given as a guide for such discussions:
https://assets.contentstack.io/v3/assets/bltb428ce5d46f8efd8/blt9009ab6d9bf05450/5ed53eb108ac190a51c6ae3a/Daring-Discussions_Tool-Kit_(1).pdf

This document is one of the better resources I see in the guide because it paves the way for mutuality, for openness and honesty, and to see each other as different but equal, which  I believe cannot be done adequately under Critical Race Theory.  The one problem with this document, by comparison with NonViolent Communication which I will next explain, is that it still contains the dogma about privilege.

The document begins with the hopeful start: “The world we live in is one increasingly focused on the things that divide us.”  Thus it seems more than ironic when in the fourth paragraph, the author writes, “Being or becoming aware of privilege is important for respectful dialogue…privilege means…the relative power you hold in a society that is structurally unequal due to racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, ableism, religious discrimination and so on.”  Eg, the would-be daring discussionist, is being asked to focus precisely on “the things that divide us”!

On the positive side, the document also says:  “Participants are asked to commit to avoid judgments, defensiveness and anger and to try to express any negative feelings and different views constructively and from a place of giving as opposed to being [op]positional or needing to be right.”

Non-Violent Communication As Compared to the Violent Communication too often used in the Anti-Racism Movement 

It’s much owing to the tenets and teachings of Critical Race Theory, that we now increasingly hear it said that “it’s not enough to not be racist, one needs to be anti-racist.”  In a way, this hearkens back to the mantra that was popular 30 or 40 years ago, which was “If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”  One could read it, at one level, as a request for people to be actively involved in important contemporary issues, rather than passively complacent.  Engaged, rather than distant observers.

At the same time as this statement seems to call for meaningful engagement, it also preaches, puts forth an orthodoxy, and makes a demand that the listener accept some degree of the assertion that there is a sufficiently large problem of racism in the world, that even those ostensibly not effected by it, will leave themselves open to being viewed as ethically or morally bankrupt if they do not actively engage with racism along the lines the speaker requests.

I want to suggest here a different approach.  Coming from a perspective grounded in depth psychology,  spiritual exploration, and study of Non-Violent Communication, NVC for short,  there need not be any teachings, any preaching, any theory, any demands made of others, any talk of privilege nor any need to acknowledge any privilege, any orthodoxy at all, and certainly no shows of obsequious subservience or recital of anti-racist “creeds”, in order to work to “end racism” or other forms of oppression or injustice, or to achieve other goals which help us all move towards our real purpose of mutual, peaceful harmonious existence.  In fact, one of the amazing paradoxes of NonViolent Communication, (which relates to a similar paradox in depth psychology, psychotherapy, and spiritual exploration) is that even if we set out with no intention to do anything about racism (or, substitute here the issue of your choice) , as if we could care less about racism, we can actually end up helping end racism and heal the world, just by participating in NVC.

One of the reasons for this, is the profound reverberations that flow from actually listening to and seeing other people, and honoring their needs.  This beautiful beholding of others has far-reaching implications.  We see that in reality, we are these other individuals whom we behold, much as in the beautiful phrase from “Thou Art That.”   The imagined separations dissolve away. Thou Art That ph

For to really see and hear others, shows us, quite in contrast to what is taught in Critical Race Theory, we all actually have the whole universe inside us, and all people, and all races.  We have within us both white and black, oppressed and oppressor, gay and straight, male and female, child and adult, abled and disabled, and all other dualities and possible identities, through the wonderful beauty and divine paradox that is the ineffable reality of the human soul.  As was sung by Amergin, in this ancient poem of Ireland:
https://www.scribd.com/doc/24999770/Echoes-of-Antiquity-in-the-Early-Irish-Song-of-Amergin

Song of Amergin

So, perhaps you may say that is a teaching, a theory, but as it’s also poetry, you are free to disbelieve.

In contrast to those speaking from Critical Race Theory, what I’ve just said obligates you to nothing.  There’s nothing you have to do.  You are neither obligated to action or to non-action, you don’t have to live your life in a certain way, and in fact you don’t have to do anything at all, either with regard to racism or any other issue.   You could spend your whole life alone in a shack in the forest, meditating on a blade of grass, or praying in a monastery, or you could be a college professor in an Ivy League university, or a medical doctor working for Doctors without Borders and providing care to poor people in need on another continent.  What you’re doing might vary: you could be helping provide free legal aid for refugees, or you might be busy working on a wall to keep illegal immigrants out.  The beauty of open honest mutual dialogue is that you can start wherever you are, and whoever you are, and connect with someone else   –or perhaps, lacking that other person, connect with another part of your own self  — and see where it takes you: or not.  No obligation.

Non-Violent Communication is primarily about working with other people, but as I hope to show, its tools also  benefit self-exploration of any kind.  Whatever issue you want to explore, you can do in a safe and mutually respectful way with this model.  If you want to work on race issues, you can work with people of other races.  Or you can do self-inquiry on these issues.  If you want to work on sexism, you can work with people on that.  Any of the “isms” can be worked on, as well as any other area of inquiry, politics or area of conflict in society in contemporary times.  The main thing that I have “grokked” from my experience with this, is that whatever you work on, needs to be “live” for you, it needs to be “real”, something you can feel in your gut and heart: it can’t just be an abstract, distant concept, a theoretical or intellectual curiosity.

You can read about Non-Violent Communication in Marshall Rosenberg’s book on it which can be purchased here:
https://www.amazon.com/Nonviolent-Communication-Language-Life-Changing-Relationships/dp/189200528X/ref=sr_1_1

Or read here in pdf form:

https://dragunview.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/nonviolent-communication-a-language-of-life-with-added-charts.pdf

Or find it here:
NonViolent Communication A Language of Life with added Charts

As I explain the NVC system below, I will refer to page numbers in this pdf, so you can read the book and follow along if you wish.

What is NVC and how can it help heal the world and end racism, even when a person engaging in it, sets out lacking interest to have anything to do with racism or anti-racism at all?

The NVC Process: How it Works

As is suggested by its name, Non Violent Communication does believe that some ways of communicating are more respectful,  empathic, honest and clear than other ways.  So, there are forms of communication which are considered more “violent”, not because they involve physical assault, or physical violence, but because they involve verbal attacking, criticism, contempt, disrespect, defensiveness, resistance, reactionary responses, judgment, “evaluation” of various kinds.  Unfortunately, most of us are not taught, either by parents, teachers, or movement leaders,  how to avoid communicating in these unskillful ways.

The NVC process helps teach people to communicate using a more focused attention that helps avoid such inadvertent violence.  While using NVC style communication can be very effective to resolve conflicts, it is not easy to use in non-structured situations, without someone there to guide the process, or in settings where options for communication are quite limited, such as in random posts on social media. It works best either used one on one, or in group settings where there is a facilitator to help mediate the discussion.

It utilizes four components: (see pg 14 of the pdf document in link above)

(1) Observations, or what is seen, which we try to articulate without using any judgment or evaluation.  We focus on what we like or don’t like that others are doing.
(2) Feelings: we next state how we feel in response to what we have observed.  This is not what we think, but what we feel.  This is an important distinction.
(3)  Needs:  after stating our feelings about what we have observed, we then state our needs relative to this.  As a help in discovering what our needs are, NVC has developed a “needs list” that lists common human needs.  Generally everything that concerns us in our lives can be traced to one or more of these needs.
(4) Requests:  After having stated what we’ve observed, and spoken our feelings about the matter, then worked to identify and express our own needs, we finally will work to articulate specific, clear requests of the other person or group working with us in this situation.

NVC 4 components

In developing his NVC system, Marshall Rosenberg identified certain forms of communication that he termed “life-alienating communication” as he felt that these ways of speaking alienated us from our native state of compassion.  On page 18 of the pdf link above, he points out the first of such types of life-alienating communication, as “Moralistic Judgments.”
Right here is where we see the major problem in the approach of the Anti-Racism movement and Critical Race Theory, in terms of the actual on-the-ground inter-relational consequence  of the ideologies involved.  They give rise to judgmentalism, to intolerance.  As I’ve been trying to demonstrate, there is virtually no way for a well-intentioned, caring individual to disagree with the basic ideologies of the movement, while still being respected.  People who don’t submit to the required orthodoxy are summarily dismissed as “racist”, “privileged”, or a host of other judgments and invectives.  This intolerance for dissent is violent communication, which not surprisingly is increasingly leading to actual physical violence.

In Austin recently, the Austin City Council, no less, accused its entire police force of being racist, because they wore police uniforms.
https://twitter.com/mkelly007/status/1269276204709875713

Another form of life-alienating communication is Making Comparisons, pg 20 of the pdf, which is a form of judgment, involved when we compare ourselves to other people, either individually, or as a group.  Under Critical Race Theory, anti-racism work often involves making comparisons between individuals and groups.  The term “white privilege” implies that the movements would have a hard time seeing white people outside of this comparative and evaluative term.

A third manner of using life-alienating communication is Denial of Responsibility.  The responsibility implied here, is our own, our need to take responsibility for our own feelings, thoughts, actions.  This is an issue in Critical Race Theory and Anti-Racism movement, because the movement in some of its ideology, posits that in many situations, black individuals are not responsible for their own feelings, thoughts, actions.  Someone else or something else is theorized to be at times responsible,  generally a white person or white supremacist/racist system.  This is a disempowering and cynical as well as psychologically and spiritually void orientation to the world and to the human psyche.  Far from setting the foundations for liberation, it tragically sets the stage for continual enslavement: because people can never be free when they make their happiness contingent upon external or structural factors over which they have no control.
Other forms of communication that Marshall Rosenberg has identified as life-alienating, round out the other methods and common practices of the Anti-Racism movement.  On pg 22 of the pdf, he says:  “Communicating our desires as demands is yet another form of language that blocks compassion.”  The Anti-Racism movement does not so much make requests, as it makes demands.

In this video, a Black Lives Matter protest group confronts the mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, and asks him a question that is not really a question, it’s a demand, to defund the city’s police department.
https://twitter.com/BenjaminABoyce/status/1269435552484343811

Amazingly, he was able to stand up and say no, which led to a furious mob yelling obscenities and calling out “shame”!  https://twitter.com/DailyCaller/status/1269409734630793219

He said no, in spite of the fact that just earlier he made a cringeworthy spectacle of himself showing obeisance to this group: https://twitter.com/RaheemKassam/status/1269421385660719106

Rosenberg also points out that language calling for punishment, demanding that people “get what they deserve” is also life-alienating communication.  Examples of this type of alienating communication:
(1) The mayor “deserves” to be given the middle finger and voted out because he refused to do as demanded and defund the police
(2) A person “deserves” to burn in hell for not accepting the religious dogma
(3) A criminal “deserves” to be punished with a long prison term.

Observing without Evaluating

When making observations, it’s important to avoid judgment or evaluation.  Pg 26 of the pdf book helps clarify how to make observations without infusing them with judgment.

Distinguishing Feelings from Thoughts

Our culture, for the most part, highly overvalues thinking as compared to feeling.  In fact, the culture “privileges” thinking.  The realm of feelings is devalued, quite possibly because, as with intuition,  it’s a realm more connected with women.  The one area where I do see feelings emphasized, actually seems a dishonest use:   when people make others responsible for their own feelings, in order to weaponize them for a cause, such as fighting racism or sexism, homophobia, or any other cause.
Pages 31 to 32 of the document help clarify how to distinguish feelings from thoughts, as well as how to distinguish feelings from evaluations. For instance, I often have said “I feel unheard, I feel unseen”, without realizing that those terms involved interpretations, evaluations of others, rather than pointing to specific feelings.  So, it’s less accurate or helpful to say “I feel unheard”, than to say “I’m not sure that I have been heard.”  See a feelings list on pg 33 of the pdf.

Taking Responsibility for Our Feelings: Coping with Other’s Negative Messages

NVC aligns with depth psychology and spiritual teachings,  in stating that what others say and do may be the stimulus, but is never the cause of our own feelings.  This helps clarify why different people have different responses to the same outer events, incidents or policies.

Let’s take a look at different ways to cope with other’s negative messages, which will begin moving us from understanding our own feelings better, towards strategies for more skillful communication.

Let’s begin with two hypothetical “negative messages” of the sort that are likely to arise in the context of Anti-Racism work, which is “you haven’t owned your white privilege” or “you’re a racist”.

Rosenberg says there are four ways one might respond to these kinds of negative messages, which are:
(1) Blame ourselves
(2) Blame others
(3) Sense our own feelings and needs
(4) Sense or imagine other’s feelings and needs

In practice, this is how this could look with the example statements:
(1) “Oh My God, there’s something really wrong with me, and I’m ashamed…”
(2) “You people are disgusting fundamentalist creeps, who can’t stop judging everyone else.”
(3) “I’m feeling hurt and betrayed, angry….”
(4) “I am wondering if you are feeling hurt or angry because you didn’t feel supported or heard or validated by what I just said?”

Uncovering our Needs Under the Feelings

Once we figure out how we actually feel we can start identifying our own needs. (pg 37 pdf) This is difficult, because as Rosenberg writes, “Most of us have never been taught to think in terms of needs.   We are accustomed to thinking about what’s wrong with other people when our needs aren’t fulfilled.”  Rosenberg observed that when he could shift people towards focusing on their needs rather than focusing on their perception of what was wrong with the other, “the possibility of finding ways to meet everybody’s needs is greatly increased.”

Needs list:

NVC needs list oneNVC Needs list

After identifying needs, participants will also be encouraged to examine what are their strategies for getting those needs met.  This is where the creativity and best effort can often be applied, because it’s here in collaborative work to find strategies to meet the needs of both individuals or groups, where the real payoff can be in conflict resolution. Sometimes the strategy that one group uses to get its needs met creates a heavy burden or negative impact for those in the other group. For instance, in a majority white community where someone has inadvertently done or said something racist, a strategy to “carry on the peace” may involve downplaying the significance or potential hurtful impact of such a comment or action.  With Critical Race Theory, the strategy seems to often be that the black activist community seeks to get its needs for validation met by silencing white individuals who don’t accept their claims about racism or systemic racism.    Thus a degree of coercion is used, or threat of punishment, in the strategy to get needs met, and this is not healthy for anyone, on either side of the issue.

Making Requests

Once participants in NVC have made observations, identified their feelings and needs, the next step is to make requests of the other person or group. When making requests, it is important to frame them in the positive rather than in the negative.  Negative requests such as “I request that you stop being racist towards me/towards blacks” not only provoke resistance, but they do not clearly communicate something that a participant can do, some action or effort they can undertake.

While speaking, an NVC participant may ask to: (1) reflect, or  have the listener say what they think they heard , (2) describe the impact of the speaker’s communication upon them, (3) ask if the listener would be willing to take a particular action.

When making requests, it’s important to keep in mind that NVC is not a method to use to force change on people.  If participants seek to use the method only so long as they’ll gain compliance or get what they want, they will be disappointed. NVC honors people’s freedom and issues out of the belief that it’s best if changes come willingly, out of compassion, rather than as a result of any kind of coercion.

Sample Dialogues: Critical Race Theory and Non Violent Communication
Now that I’ve explained the basics about how NVC works, let’s take a look at two example dialogues, to better understand how this would look in practice.  In the first dialogue, two women speak under the “framework” or structure of Critical Race Theory.

Sample Dialogue Critical Race Theory

If the dialogue seems slanted to you, take a look at videos from actual anti-racism workshops, such as this one which actually took place over 25 years ago.  It’s likely the exchange would be more heated today.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzLTyp0ZBx4

In analyzing the difficulties with this dialogue, it can help to explore issues/logical contradictions I perceive in various anti-racism and unlearning racism workshops and diversity trainings, eg these:
(1) They seek to place much more emphasis on how we are different, and in particular how those differences divide us, than on our similarities.
(2) They seek to use individual stories only to support a preferred set of ideologies, eg, they contain an implicit bias and privileged narrative.
(3) They seek to weaponize differences and alleged power and privilege imbalances, to silence white people and require them to comply with the privileged or dominant narrative.
Eg in Lee Mun Wah’s handout entitled “21 Ways to Stop a Conversation about Diversity” which is here https://stirfryseminars.com/resources/handouts/Topic-1-01.pdf
21 ways to stop a conversation about diversity (2)

He is basically telling you what you are not allowed to say: the stories or worldviews you are not allowed to have.  Eg “I think identifying into groups only further divides us”, number 6 here, is implied to be a “bad” comment because if you say this you’ve shut down the dialogue.
If you watch exerpts such as this one from his Color of Fear film, however, you’ll see several of the participants berating and even yelling at a white man in the group, putting down his statement as bullsh#t, accusing him among other things, of “walking on stolen land.”  It’s implied, apparently, that having an opinion about group identity unacceptably shuts down a dialogue, but yelling at someone and accusing them of walking upon stolen land, and calling their comments bullsh#t, is okay and does not also shut down a dialogue.
There is a place for confrontation in our mutual dialogue.  But it cannot be white people only who are confronted, and black and other minorities deemed to always know all the truth, have the complete story, and never need to be challenged or corrected.  And this is in essence my main criticism of dialogues that take place under Critical Race Theory: there is no way to produce effective, meaningful or healthy dialogue if you are bullying one party into submission or telling them to shut up and trying to prevent them from having a different opinion.

Now let’s look at another dialogue, with these same two women, which takes place under NVC.

Sample Dialogue Using NVC Theory

More about what
All in all, I think you’ll get the idea that by using NVC principles and a mediator who is skilled in working with those principles and either individuals or groups, it’s possible to help people hear each other, respect each other and connect far more effectively than might be the case otherwise.  When people do connect, and support each other, they do so out of their own free will and genuine compassion and not because they feel obligated.

Though I’ve included resources pointing to specific articles about NVC or groups that attempt to bring in an awareness about structural issues in society and systemic racism into their work, for those who are interested in this, I do have some concern about the attempt to do this.  My concern is that NVC could end up hijacked by Critical Race Theory or distorted so that it is no longer actually capable of doing what it does so very well, which is help people respect each other’s needs and feelings and help them meet on common ground.  While it certainly is valuable for a mediator to be well informed about world events and social dynamics, it’s also important for them to avoid coming across as being biased towards one participant over another, or favoring one group over another.  The way that being well informed would come through in a mediator’s work, is for the mediator to know what questions to ask to help the participants themselves state what they think is true for them, rather than the mediator making these statements for them.

27 officers injured largely peaceful

Conclusion

Again, I want to say that I believe we are living in dangerous times. Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality and Identity Politics and the movements their ideologies support, ranging from Black Lives Matter to various Anti-Racism groups and Social Justice groups, together represent a pessimistic, cynical, divisive view of the world. They are ideologies based in illogical arguments and circular reasoning.   They promote intolerance and stifle dissent, compel obedience and obeisance.  Like fundamentalist religious cults, they define all those not accepting their doctrines as blasphemers, and punish the blasphemers.

As well, these movements increasingly push for extreme changes, changes that at one time were laughed away because they sounded so ridiculous, but which are now threatening to be mainstreamed.  For instance, the call to “Abolish the Police” is growing louder and a dangerous fanaticism is spreading.

https://www.city-journal.org/abolish-police-call-to-action

https://thefederalist.com/2020/06/05/abolish-the-police-is-a-slogan-for-the-destruction-of-america/

https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/06/03/i-did-not-kill-george-floyd/

Just as I write this, Minneapolis City Council voted to disband their entire police department.

https://theappeal.org/minneapolis-city-council-members-announce-intent-to-disband-the-police-department-invest-in-proven-community-led-public-safety/

San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City also took actions to “defund” their police departments,
https://sf.curbed.com/2020/6/5/21281670/sf-mayor-defund-police-black-community-sfpd
And
https://www.foxnews.com/us/defund-police-george-floyd-protest-reforms-new-york-los-angeles-minneapolis

What could happen when the police are defunded? Lives could be lost. In Oakland for instance, it’s been common for some time  now that due to lack of funding for the police department, those calling 911 can wait on hold for 2 minutes or more.  https://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/this-is-not-an-emergency-its-just-oakland-911/Content?oid=26892656

Who is going to do the policing, when police are no more?  Armed mobs?  The spectre of a national fall into rule by criminal gangs inches ever closer to the horizon.

Don’t think this is mere hyperbole.  Just this week, the city of Seattle “abandoned” one of its police precincts to Antifa activists.  https://twitter.com/realchrisrufo/status/1270400478598193152
And
https://twitter.com/anarchomastia/status/1270180282964926464
Seattle police abandon precinct

The mayor of Seattle is not sure what to do. She’s squeezed between needing to appear to support BLM, and needing to protect part of the city from being overtaken by anarchists or a criminal gang.
https://www.thecanary.co/trending/2020/06/09/seattle-sleepless-as-authorities-mobilise-after-locals-declare-free-zone/
And
https://mynorthwest.com/1930871/seattle-protest-updates-tuesday/
And
https://www.kuow.org/stories/they-gave-us-east-precinct-seattle-police-backs-away-from-the-barricade
Stay tuned for what emerges from this dangerous situation.

We need to be very careful now with what we do and whom we support, lest we find Orwell’s 1984 quickly descending upon us. What we’ve seen this week suggests that many feel a police killing of an unarmed man must necessarily result in protests nationwide, and violent riots and looting. Yet, it is unlikely we will soon obtain world peace or perfect justice. Since these tragic events do occur from time to time, in spite of our best efforts, we literally are at risk of nationwide insurrection, which plays right into the hands of a group of dangerous people who would like to destroy the nation.  When structures of law and order are broken down, don’t naively think this will result in utopia of peace and goodwill.  Given what I’ve written about at length here, we are much more likely to see a rise of rulership by criminal gangs.

orwell 1984

https://twitter.com/PrisonPlanet/status/1269632203664822275

Appendix: Resources:

Writings by Shelby Steele and John McWhorter, Heather MacDonald, Coleman Hughes:

The Content of Our Character  https://www.amazon.com/Content-Our-Character-Vision-America/dp/006097415X/ref=sr_1_3
Shame: How America’s Past Sins Polarized Our Country:
https://www.amazon.com/Shame-Shelby-Steele-audiobook/dp/B00T3HDZSA/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=shelby+steele&qid=1591574029&sr=8-2
White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era
https://www.amazon.com/White-Guilt-Together-Destroyed-Promise/dp/0060578637/ref=sr_1_1
A Dream Deferred: The Second Betrayal of Black Freedom in America
https://www.amazon.com/Dream-Deferred-Betrayal-Freedom-America/dp/0060931043/ref=sr_1_5
The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture
https://www.amazon.com/Diversity-Delusion-Pandering-University-Undermine/dp/1250200911/ref=sr_1_4
Losing the Race:  Self-Sabotage in Black America
https://www.amazon.com/Losing-Race-Self-Sabotage-Black-America/dp/0060935936/ref=sr_1_1
Winning the Race: Beyond the Crisis in Black America 
https://www.amazon.com/Winning-Race-Beyond-Crisis-America/dp/1592402704/ref=sr_1_2
The Racism Treadmill, article by Coleman Hughes
https://quillette.com/2018/05/14/the-racism-treadmill/

Stir Fry Productions Unlearning Racism

handouts:
https://stirfryseminars.com/resources/handouts.php

Exerpt from the Color of Fear:

Non Violent Communication main website:
https://www.cnvc.org/

Bay NVC and Changing Consciousness
https://baynvc.org/nvc-changing-consciousness/

NVC and Social Justice
http://nlsj.learnnvc.org/

Comments on NVC and racism
https://faithandleadership.com/theresa-f-latini-practice-nonviolent-communication-identify-confront-and-transform-aspects-racism

https://workcollaboratively.com/2017/08/17/nvc-conversations-about-privilege-and-power-over/

Newt Bailey
https://baynvc.org/trainers/newt-bailey-10/

Kathy Simon
https://www.kathysimonphd.com/about-me

Nancy Kahn
On Empathy:

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