Black Lives Matter protest in Tel Aviv June 2nd 2020
Black Lives Matter protest in Tel Aviv June 2nd 2020Miriam Alster/Flash90

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is the latest intellectual fashion pushed by the New York Times and the Guardian. In the hope of understanding why such august journalistic institutions would push their well-educated readerships to embrace its message, I decided to read a work inspired by CRT.

My choice was not Robin DiAngelo’s celebrated “White Fragility” or Ibram Kendi’s award-winning “How to be anti-racist”, but a text written by a black person for other black persons. Urged by a newsletter that promotes African culture in Berlin, I decided to read “Living while Black”, a book written by the Afro-French-born psychologist and therapist Guilaine Kinouani. My expectation was to gain an insider’s perspective of intra-Black discourse about racism and expand my cultural and psychological horizons.

Unfortunately, my expectations were quickly dashed. From the first pages of the book, it becomes clear that Ms. Kinouani has written an anti-white screed (I deliberately avoid the term “racist” since in CRT-dogma, after all, only whites can be racist). The following passage delivers a taste for the tone of the whole text:

“You get into a room. It is a white space.

"As you enter, you feel a sense of heaviness. You look around and notice pairs of eyes staring as though devouring you. You instantly realise you are the only person of colour in the space. A sort of malaise takes hold of you. You feel a little queasy. Perhaps the discomfort starts to make you feel dizzy. You may experience nausea. You might attempt to stick around and impose your presence, in silence. You may even take a seat but in any case, your body is reacting to something. Soon enough that something becomes overwhelming. Every move you make is with microscopic precision as self-consciousness takes over your body. Your Blackness is in sharp closeup from the outside in. You know you want to exit now. You know this space is inhospitable to you. It may start to feel hard to breathe and so you try to look for a way out and a reason to leave, discreetly.”

Blacks in Ms. Kinouani’s book that one has the distinct impression that even Jews in Nazi Germany had an easier time.
Throughout the book, whites are consistently portrayed as malevolent and evil, while Blacks are permanently portrayed as helpless victims of racist structures. Indeed, whites are so evil towards Blacks in Ms. Kinouani’s book that one has the distinct impression that even Jews in Nazi Germany had an easier time (This impression is not accidental: According to CRT, German Jews during the 1930s could often pass for Aryans, whereas Blacks in America and Europe are permantly brandmarked as black. On the other hand, CRT fails to mention, Blacks are not slated for extermination by means of mass murder in gas chambers or lethal work camps).

Ms. Kinouani has apparently never read the memoirs of Holocaust survivors. If she had done so, she would have realized that most of the victims of Nazi oppression didn’t fail to display gratitude but were loyal, uncomplaining and productive citizens of whatever country they lived in.

In Ms. Kirouani’s book, there are no righteous whites. Whites are collectively complicit in upholding and benefitting from racist structures. That Ms. Kinouani and her seven siblings benefitted from French welfare benefits and a quality education paid mostly for by French taxpayers is a fact only a “racist” reviewer would dare highlight. The world of Ms. Kinouani knows no gratitude, only rage and indignation.

Guilaine Kinouani’s pictures in the web mostly show a sullen look, an angry Black expression which is counterpoint to the “angy white male” at whom the New York Times and The Guardian justifiably jeer. Ms. Kinouani claims her anger is justified: she is doubly oppressed as a Black person and as a woman and is therefore entitled to rage against the "capitalist white supremacy" that oppresses people like her. That in the meantime Ms. Kinouani eagerly partakes in the multi-billion dollar business of combatting racism is an irony that cannot be missed: Her “anti-racist” online platform markets a broad spectrum of lucrative anti-racist services to government agencies and corporations.

Despite her flawed work, Ms. Kinouani’s book has successfully opened my eyes to the magnitude of racism in the Western world, but not of the sort in which she believes. If Penguin Books publishes this drivel, which it very likely would never publish from a white male, the reason must be racism. We live in times permeated by a racism of low expectations in which the quality of one’s work matters far less than the minority category boxes an author or artist can check off. This racism of low expectations is pervasive in white progressive circles which enthusiastically applaud nonsense as long as it is the work of minorities raging against oppression.

Liberal racists who celebrate minority achievements regardless of their merits are the intellectual heirs of the white supremacists of yesteryear who poo-pooed minority achievements regardless of their merits. Today, just like 60 years ago, only a righteous minority has the intellectual honesty and ethical courage to praise or criticize work in a colorblind fashion.

For this reason, I urge you to buy Ms. Kinouani’s book if you want your anti-CRT convictions to be strengthened. If you are looking for a book that helps you to empathize with real black suffering or feel admiration for black intelligence, I urge you to read the memoirs of Frederick Douglass and Thomas Sowell’s writings.

PS. Throughout this review, I have capitalized the word Black and not the word white in line with the racially-conscious spelling used by Ms. Kinouani throughout her book.

Rafael Castro is a Yale and Hebrew University educated business and political analyst based in Europe. Rafael specializes in proofreading, editing and ghostwriting quality texts for entrepreneurs and politicians. Rafael can be reached at [email protected]