Church is in session, and Pastor Comstock is at the pulpit. If you wish to repent for your sins, rather than waiting for Yom Kippur, Confession, or whatever Buddhists and Hindus do, the next best way is to subscribe to my Substack. It’s good for your soul.
Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 book Unbroken tells the story of World War II bombardier Louie Zamperini and the unimaginable ordeals he survived after his plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean. Zamperini spent 46 days adrift in the ocean when he washed up on a Japanese-occupied island and spent the remainder of the war as a POW while enduring horrific torture.
Miraculously, Zamperini survived, returned to the US, married, had a daughter, and became a severe alcoholic. Through a series of fortuitous events, Zamperini attends a service at Billy Graham’s revivalist church. At that service, Graham begins his sermon with “I see a drowning man…” which resonates with Zamperini due to the ordeal he survived. After that service, Zamperini resolves to make peace with his past, never drinks again, and reclaims his life.
When Zamperini returns from the war, he is broken; however, his finding of religion makes him “unbroken.”
I recount Zamperini’s experiences here because I recently attended various traveling religious revivalist shows, which have compelled me to re-examine my life and reckon with the evils of my past. As with most religions, this one needs missionaries who can carry the word, and I wish to preach that gospel to you today. Heathens need not continue.
First, let me introduce you to my savior…Robin DiAngelo.
You may know Robin from her various scholarly, quasi-religious works such as White Fragility and her new book Nice Racism, which lay out the irredeemable evils of all white people regarding race. I planned on writing one of my typically snarky, lowbrow posts about Robin’s pseudoscience, neo-racism, and preachy obliviousness. However, after diving deep into her teachings and sitting through many of her racialist revival sessions, I have realized that, much like Louie Zamperini returning from World War II, I am also a drowning man in need of the divine life preserver that emits from Robin’s salt and pepper locks.
But, before we go too far down that road, let’s start from the start and allow me to explain how I began my sojourn from white sinner to (dare I say) white savior.
For years, I had known Robin as being a part of a race-identitarian clique along with folks like Ibram X. Kendi and Ta-Nehisi Coates but had never read or listened to the primary material; however, she recently re-entered the news cycle when in a roundtable talk, she said, "I'm a big fan of affinity space, and affinity work, and I think that people of color need to get away from white people and have some community with each other.”
“Yikes,” I thought. “It’s time for your boy to do his thing and make hay while the comedic sun shines.” After all, in that same session, she makes the audacious claim that anyone who isn’t on the anti-racism ship (is that a problematic analogy?) doesn’t get to have a job, “what I want to do is create a culture that actually spits out those who are resistant, as opposed to what it does now, which is want to break with those who want to break with white solidarity.”
But the longer I listened, the more I realized that the initial repugnance with which I met her philosophy was simply the denial stage of my journey along the white stages of grief. As I traversed the anger, bargaining, and depression stages, at long last, I reached the destination; acceptance of my white sins.
The best repentance I can imagine is, much like John and Paul did for Jesus of Nazareth, to sell all my worldly goods and roam the earth as a vagabond, spreading the gospel that captures the good deeds and sapient words of our savior Robin of San Jose, in what I shall call The Book of Gordon, which are taken from talks (really sermons, if I am being honest) she has given over the past several years.
Before we get into the homilies, let me tell you something about her style; Robin loves to use humor because, as she explained in her book launch for White Fragility when it comes to talking about race with white sinners, there is
anxiety and so much charge and so much defensiveness and on and on for white people around race that when we begin to be challenged, we can begin to shut down really quickly, or glaze over or tune out and those of course function to protect our positions and hold out worldviews in place.
It’s like she stared into my soul. At first, I had more glaze on me than a Dunkin Donut honey glazed, but after hours of her beautiful haranguing, artful raving, and exquisite hysterics, she finally broke through my Bull Connor-like exterior, and I saw the light. I will have never-ending gratitude to her for the fact that she could use comedy to soften the blow to my mortal soul.
And let me tell you something, brother…move over Sam Kinison and George Carlin because we have another comedic mastermind to join their ranks (imagine if Moses had a solid stand-up routine, maybe the whole Jewish thing could have worked out better. Oh well). Once she starts to riff on how awful white people are, there is no stopping her. I was waiting for her to pull out the Gallagher watermelon, but instead of smashing that delicious red fruit, I hoped she would obliterate a Trump voter, but alas, she didn’t go that route. Instead, she did something more sublime, tantamount to turning racist water into anti-racist wine. Let me recount her exquisite drollery.
At one point in her talk, she shares this slide:
Superficially this doesn’t seem funny. After all, what’s funny about white people experiencing racial stress, you bigot? However, what got the audience rocking is that the cucked guy in the slide is <spoiler alert> Robin’s husband, who is also sitting front and center at the talk. Even though he objected to the picture because “everyone is going to think I’m an asshole,” she still forced him to do it, all the while knowing that he would be the butt-end of a joke in her book talk that targets racist white people (but especially men).
Please show me the Lenny Bruce routine that contends with this genius. I’ll wait.
Aside from the Olympic-level wit, I also love the energy. Robin could have gone online and found stock images of white guys with their hands over their ears all day long. Here are dozens of them I found with a 10-second Google search. But if she did that, how could she display her dominance over her beta husband to the man-hating feminists in the crowd? She wouldn’t. That’s how. Robin is playing comedic 5D, underwater, upside-down, inside-out chess while ya’ll are playing tiddlywinks.
At the risk of blaspheming here - Robin, baby, sweetie. This may be a bit too forward, but shooters gotta shoot, so here I go…if your husband ever gets sick of his daily (dare I say, hourly) emasculation sessions, I am more than happy to be your simp. I love to pee sitting down. If you want to have all your anti-racist friends over to cat-call me, berate me for Jim Crow laws, and force me to be your human ottoman, I am all in. I would love nothing more than to pleasure you in bed and then be forced to go to sleep with my blue balls throbbing to the slightest touch of the sheets. E-mail me at ThrobbinforRobin@gmail.com, and we’ll talk.
Now that I’ve explained her exquisite delivery, which never devolves into mau mauing sessions, let me extricate some of Robin of San Jose’s notable insights that will constitute the first volume of The Book of Gordon.
1 - “I have never met a white person who didn’t have an opinion about racism.”
It’s true. Ask any Chinese, Mexican, Brazilian, or German…no opinions about racism. Complete tabula rasa. White people, on the other hand, it’s all we ever talk about. If I had a nickel for every time I heard a white person talking about racism while in line to buy deodorant at CVS, Robin would be a wealthy woman (because obviously, I would give her tithing, not at the measly 10%, but at the actual value of her work, 100%).
2- “As a sociologist, I’m really comfortable generalizing about white people”
As a Sociologist? For Robin to base her ability to judge all white people merely on her profession is like saying Jesus‘s divinity came simply from his profession as a carpenter. Of course, he was that, but you know what he also was? Oh, just a little thing like…The son of G-d (according to my Gentile friends, anyway). While understating her divinity, Robin also teaches us white folk about humility. Awe-inspiring doesn’t seem to cut it in this instance.
3- “If you have not devoted years of sustained study, struggle, and focus on this topic, you just simply can not have an informed opinion on racism as a white person.”
You think you know about race, huh? Have you had sustained study, struggle, and focus on the topic for one second less than Robin? Do you think you have a better handle on the inherent racism of all white people than the divine one? Hold your tongue, blasphemer! Time to take your medicine cracker.
4 - “We haven’t had to build our racial stamina”
I have given up running and, instead, get up at 5 am to be scolded by a variety of minority groups about how racist I am. I used to run marathons…now I can be harangued for two consecutive hours without crawling into the fetal position. My goal is to be able to go all day without hanging myself.
5 - “The smallest amount of racial stress is intolerable. The mere suggestion that being white has meaning often triggers a range of defensive responses, and these include emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and withdrawal from the stress-inducing situation. These responses work to reinstate white equilibrium….”
Yes, yes, and yes! Yes, to it all. I was blind, but now I see! Put me in my white racist's 12-step program. In truth, I needed my white equilibrium thrown off. Give me racial vertigo or Ménière's disease but in a positive, non-nauseating way.
In her early days of wandering through the diversity training desert, trying to find any oasis that could nourish her and her followers with even a sip of anti-racist water, Robin was taken aback by:
6- “how angry and defensive so many white people became at the suggestion that they were connected to racism in any way. The very idea that they would be required to attend a workshop on racism outraged them.”
Here I thought my anger stemmed from the fact I had a real job, with real work to do, real deadlines to meet, and real goals to obtain, but it’s clear that construct was whispered into my ear by a tiny devil Jefferson Davis sitting on my shoulder, speaking sweet apartheid nothings into my ear. I’m on to you, you Confederate son-of-a-bitch. I’ve got an angel on my shoulder now, and her name is Robin. Good luck against her flaming sword (I didn’t use flaming in the gay way, but in the “she’s gonna mess you up” kinda way, just so we’re clear).
7- Racism is not based on individual actions but rather is based on a complex, interconnected system
Much like when Niels Bohr theorized about the structure of the atom, Robin theorizes on the construction of systemic racism and the white devils who perpetuate it. And much like Robin having Bohr’s atoms in her cells, Niels was the white racist motherfucker Robin is describing here. Imagine where the world would be if Bohr spent his time on worthwhile things, like structural racism, rather than useless things like the atom. You can’t even see those things, but I can clearly see your klan hood.
8 - “Progressive white people cause the most daily harm.”
In Exodus 3, G-d speaks to Moses in the form of the burning bush to command him to bring the Israelites out of Egypt, to which Moses responds in verse 11, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” Now, it is my turn to play Moses and question the all-mighty. Robin, why do you isolate members of the Libertarian Right like me? We need your help to shed us of this inherent pervasive racism buried deep within each of us. I beseech you, do not forsake us!
9-In Robin’s workshop, white people expressed their anger, slammed their notebooks on the table, refused to participate in exercises, and argued against any and all points
They raised their hand to the lord?! Excommunication is the only remedy. Cast them out into the vast wasteland of the internet. No, wait. Crucifixion! Now I see how the Crusades started.
I’ve been working for a while now, and even though I have found people in corporate America among the biggest conformist sheep on earth, I believe! I believe! Let me be your avenging angel and smite the notebook slammers. Let me strike down the exercise refuseniks. My life is yours to use as you see fit.
Time for a parable (complete with PowerPoint slide):
10- A white friend told Robin about a white couple she knew who bragged that they purchased a house in New Orleans for $25,000 but had to buy a gun, and “Joan” is afraid to leave the house. In a moment of “white racial bonding,” Robin knew she had bought a home in a black neighborhood.
Is it fucked up that Robin put her “friend” on blast for being a racist? Should I be skeptical of the validity of this conversation since she could have taken a screenshot of the chat on her phone rather than transcribing it into a slide? Does it seem odd that the couple was bragging about the great deal they got on the house while at the same time admitting the wife was terrified to leave?
No. No. Crisis of faith. Crisis of faith. That’s all this is. Even the holiest amongst us have crises of faith at times. Get me the self-flagellation scourge.
11- Racism is when white people feel entitled to “black bodies.” When they have black people do their work for them.
Have you ever hired a black person for a job? You have? Congrats…you and John C. Calhoun see black people the same way, as simply bodies to do your work for you. You’re no better than a plantation owner south of the Mason-Dixon line in 1850. Listen to Robin; it’s better not to hire black people because we wouldn’t want anyone to think you were racist by feeling “entitled to black bodies,” would we? The righteous one helped you avoid that trap. Maybe you should study the word a little more closely to help you avoid these egregious sins.
12- “We measure the value of our space by the absence of black people in particular.”
We were house shopping several years ago and found it odd that alongside the number of bedrooms (4), the size of the utility panel (200 amps), and the type of water system (town), the realtor had a “black people per square foot” figure for the house. Now that I read the word of Robin, it’s clear that our white realtor thought the house would be worth more with no black people living in the house with us. As opposed to if there had been random white people living in the house, which would have increased the value by about $100 per square foot per white person. That tricky bitch. I’m on to you now.
Finally, every church needs hymnals for their gospel choir, and I have the perfect nomination for our initial song. I introduce you to Eddie Murphy’s classic, Kill All The White People.
Repent, all you sinners! Let Robin shine her golden light down on all of you. After all, if I could find my path out of the darkness, there is hope for all of you still.
Excellent work, and by "work," I mean both your work on this essay and the work you are doing to overcome your racism (the original sin we white people were born with). I was overcome with the spirit of DeAngelo as I read your testimony, and the spirit bare witness to the truth of thy words. Previously, I had thought that the way to deal with all this talk of racism and privilege was for me to play identity politics too (as someone who is part Neanderthal: https://aghostinthemachine.substack.com/p/identity-politics-for-white-people), but you have shown me the error of my ways. I am henceforth renouncing my white privilege by renouncing my white skin and putting on blackface instead.
First article I’ve read. Lol. Funny and smart.