Had to dig up this old email chain.
It should almost go without saying, but: at the heart of most of the white liberal agonizing from the last several days is absolute terror in the face of blackness. Often, at the core of those who demand materially useless rituals such as privilege checking is pure racial panic. They work to position themselves as obsequious reflections of black agency not out of respect but out of the opposite of respect; to grant that they might have a racialized conscience that must by duty interact with the racialized conscience of the nonwhite, they would risk being interpreted by same. They arrange their opinions not to work to the benefit of the essential category of blackness they've created but to be protected themselves from that blackness, from the potential of its judgment. To see nonwhite people as fully-realized actors with whom one might disagree on topics of race would be to risk being regarded as racist by any one of them, and for many or most of the white people who write about race, avoiding that accusation is a higher priority than working against racism as such. They therefore create a mental world in which the act of ceding all personal responsibility for issues of race to the nonwhite is an act of charity, when in fact it operates on the assumption that the nonwhite are inhuman. They are in bad faith.
This is why they only engage on issues of race in mediums where they can encourage and expect immediate assent, amplification, agreement, and support. It's why you never, ever read social liberals writing on such topics in a way that does not immediately receive social approval which confirms their blamelessness, any individual intellectual responsibility dissolving into a haze of attaboys, #realtalks, THANK YOUs, and the like. Even acts of self-implication are rendered toothless through the inevitable flurry of approval which ignores the sin for which the writer was self-implicating and preserves only the end state of racial blamelessness. Like I said last night: social liberals' writing on race and sex engenders no demonstrable productive effect on the world, but is more likely than any other kind of writing to win fulsome praise. Is it really unfair of me to assume that the purpose is then not to achieve that productive effect but rather to win the praise?
I never asked anybody's permission; not on the theory that I know everything, but on the conviction that only I am responsible for the content of my conscience and the morality of how I express it. I want nowhere to hide. The advantage of avoiding the inevitable reduction of nonwhite people into a set of social cues and essentialized political traits, I consider a bonus.