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Antiracism in Black & White | James Lindsay with John Wood, Jr.

Two men

James Lindsay is a leading critic of antiracism in the digital space. But he is a lightning rod for criticism and condemnation, with a style that many believe makes him a damaging influence on the public discourse. For others, he is a champion of truth telling and an independent intellectual voice that needs to be heard.

John Wood, Jr., national ambassador for Braver Angels and a public voice on matters of race and society, plumbs the depths of antiracism in its substance, cultural origins, and arguments in this far-reaching conversation on one of the most important intellectual movements of our time.

Lindsay is founder of the media website New Discourses (, and co-author of Cynical Theories (, a book on critical race and gender studies written in collaboration with Helen Pluckrose.

Twitter: @braverangels@ConceptualJames@JohnRWoodJr

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4 thoughts on “Antiracism in Black & White | James Lindsay with John Wood, Jr.”

  1. This podcast gets very wordy, but it’s worth it to hear rational people discuss the issues.
    But I do have a sticking point that I have with nearly all such discussions. The discussion is entirely about White successes and failures relative to black culture and rights. No discussion can be complete, and there will never be either equality nor equity, until the conversations and observations go both ways.
    To the extent that blacks make it about acceptance from Whites, they are willing to make their own identity a function of White judgement. I figured out a long time ago that the only opinion of me that matters is my own opinion of me. No one will ever be accepted by everyone, or rejected by everyone.
    And one more little detail: It is the democratic party that has the sordid history of slavery, the KKK, Jim Crow, and which today controls every black ghetto in America.

  2. Well I’m feeling slightly duped. I listened to the full 2 hours and 8 minutes of this podcast, and tried to listen closely to what was being said, as objectively as I could (as in, I tried not to argue with it in my head as it was playing). By the end of it, I felt somewhat shortchanged by how looooooong it seemed to take to make points that could seemingly be summarized thusly: Critical Race Theory and so-called anti-racism are not progressive but are actually regressive because they continue to view humanity in largely racial terms, and the proper goal must be a post-racial view of the world instead, which is what MLK and the civil rights movement were after. Mmmmkay.

    Both participants are clearly steeped in the language of academia, which makes sense because much of their discussion centers around the racial discourse and thought movements that are going on in modern academia. But there’s no denying it makes for some tedious listening. Lindsay’s ears often prick up when the conversation refers to cultural issues rather than racial issues. I think he wants to make the argument I made, oh, a good 30 years ago as a young White progressive, that really, us white folks aren’t actually racist. In fact, all humans are “culturalist.” We are naturally averse to, and suspicious of, people from different cultures. And we all look down on poor folks of every ilk. While there is some truth to that, it ultimately smacks of “whataboutism.” Yes, humans are kind of tribal, but to focus on that is to minimize the specific scourge of racism that runs through every aspect of American society. And listening to a White mathematician and a Black Republican discuss this could have been compelling. After Woods’ introduction of Lindsay, I had high hopes. He was described as a social critic, but he was supposedly politically a progressive. I don’t know what the guy’s actual politics are (the implication was that he believed in “big government” or something to that effect) but his Twitter feed is about as regressive as it gets. No doubt that’s an overstatement. I don’t spend much time on Twitter, and from what I’ve heard it’s essentially the public toilet of the human mind, but I was a little bit surprised by how coarse and frat-boyish his feed is. He spends all his time critiquing such important issues as the “feminization of the military,” what he views as overwrought defenses of women journalists who’ve experienced death threats, and endless take-downs of “wokery” because he apparently hasn’t gotten the memo yet that “woke” is a term that’s kinda dead, except among social conservatives and White media personalities. This dude is definitely not the intellectual heavyweight I was expecting. Neither was I, 30 years ago. I’ve learned and I’ve grown. This guy… hasn’t, and I’m pretty disappointed that Braver Angels gave him yet another open mic. C’mon.

    Lastly, I’ll just say that ultimately his beef seems to be much more with “hooey” in academia. Well, sweetie, this just tells me how young you are. Also, that you like math. Math is simple, has firm answers, and requires no emotional connection or consideration of other people’s viewpoints or experiences. Not so with the humanities. They are messy and malleable. He wrote a series of hoax papers on silly subjects and submitted them to academic journals, and got a few of them published, therefore these publications are not legitimate sources of rigorous thought. That may well be. But that’s not new. That’s baked into the very nature of academic navel gazing. To wit: In 1987 at UT Austin I had to write a paper about the novel Slaughterhouse-Five, and had to cite at least five sources. I found a series of academic papers that had, I suppose, been written by graduate students of some sort, one of which was a cogent analysis of the significance of the birdsong “Poo-tee-weet” in the novel. So much for my brush with post-modern deconstructivism. If you can’t take the navel-gazing, get out of the belly-dancing line!

    Oh and for the guy above, there is ample, well-researched content online about how Republicans and Democrats switched places on civil rights. Hint: “Southern Strategy” will get you started.

  3. Christian Kulak

    A very mature & fair discussion on this topic. I highly recommend it. It would be interesting to see a debate between Lindsey and any of the CRT scholars. He is certainly a person with high intellect and is an important voice in race relations.

  4. My husband and I would like to share the transcript of this conversation with our students. If a transcript is available and this is an acceptable request, please let me know. Thank you for the work that you do, Braver Angels!

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