• Woke Racism

  • How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America
  • By: John McWhorter
  • Narrated by: John McWhorter
  • Length: 5 hrs and 17 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (2,877 ratings)

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Woke Racism

By: John McWhorter
Narrated by: John McWhorter
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Publisher's Summary

Acclaimed linguist and award-winning writer John McWhorter argues that an illiberal neoracism, disguised as antiracism, is hurting Black communities and weakening the American social fabric.

Americans of good will on both the left and the right are secretly asking themselves the same question: How has the conversation on race in America gone so crazy? We’re told to read books and listen to music by people of color but that wearing certain clothes is “appropriation”. We hear that being White automatically gives you privilege and that being Black makes you a victim. We want to speak up but fear we’ll be seen as unwoke, or worse, labeled a racist. According to John McWhorter, the problem is that a well-meaning but pernicious form of antiracism has become, not a progressive ideology, but a religion - and one that’s illogical, unreachable, and unintentionally neoracist.

In Woke Racism, McWhorter reveals the workings of this new religion, from the original sin of “White privilege” and the weaponization of cancel culture to ban heretics, to the evangelical fervor of the “woke mob”. He shows how this religion that claims to “dismantle racist structures” is actually harming his fellow Black Americans by infantilizing Black people, setting Black students up for failure, and passing policies that disproportionately damage Black communities. The new religion might be called “antiracism”, but it features a racial essentialism that’s barely distinguishable from racist arguments of the past.

Fortunately for Black America, and for all of us, it’s not too late to push back against woke racism. McWhorter shares scripts and encouragement with those trying to deprogram friends and family. And most importantly, he offers a road map to justice that actually will help, not hurt, Black America. 

©2021 John McWhorter (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"This is a passionate, often fiery book, but it is also seriously considered and scrupulously reasoned. Whether or not readers are persuaded by McWhorter’s analysis, they must, in the name of intellectual honesty, consider the book mandatory reading." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) 

"McWhorter brings us much-needed pointed social commentary with humor and grace. Give this book to those who are questioning the new religion, even those who have found it. Woke Racism has the capacity to melt the hatred and fervor that is now all the rage, and to bring love and forgiveness, logic and discourse, back into fashion.” (Heather E. Heying, evolutionary biologist and coauthor of A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century)

“Scathingly brilliant and strawman-killing from the get-go, Woke Racism will make you stop in your tracks no matter what your politics are—and very possibly reexamine some of your deepest held convictions. Masterfully and beautifully written, this book is a powerful appeal for common sense.” (Amy Chua, professor at Yale Law School and author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and Political Tribes)

What listeners say about Woke Racism

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Thank You

I’ve enjoyed many of Professor McWhorter’s books and Great Courses. He actually made me rethink my prescriptive grammatical bias. He always gives me something new to consider.

There’s a lot of praise I’d like to heap on this book - but I admit, I’m still afraid of The Elect. It took courage for someone in the public eye - and an academic - to write this book. It is well reasoned, respectful and presented without ideological vitriol. I hope it is received in the same way. For all our sakes.

68 people found this helpful

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Read/listen to this book. Regardless of your overall politics.

I jumped on the anti-racism bandwagon for about 2 weeks after the murder of George Floyd. Naturally, being someone whose skin turns angry red when exposed to sunlight, I proceeded to read White Fragility. I got through it and while I agreed the author made some good points quite a few things felt “off”. Shortly thereafter, while trying to see what people smarter than myself thought about the book I came across an article by John McWhorter in the Atlantic. In his critique of the book, he have words to what I was having a hard time putting my finger on. It was shortly there after I heard him on Coleman Hughes’ podcast talking about how the anti-racism movement seems a lot like a religious movement and alluded to writing a book on it. I have been waiting for this book ever since and it exceeded my expectations. And I think he is spot on.
I was a devout evangelical Christian for most of the first 30 years of my life. Fortunately, I was able to break free from the horrible grip of religion in my mid 30’s (I am a devout atheist now). My experience in the church with the way people double speak about how you are a horrible sinner but it’s not your fault, but actually it is if you don’t believe in Jesus: Just substitute racist for sin and the Elect (to borrow Prof. McWhorters term) for Jesus; and you could use most of the same jargon and talking points between the two. I strongly suspect you would not be able to tell which one was which. Thank you John McWhorter for writing this book.

52 people found this helpful

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  • G.
  • 10-31-21

Why are academic politics so vicious?

Why are academic politics so vicious? Because so little is at stake.

I know Professor McWhorther from his entertaining and often very funny podcast on Slate. I am very disappointed in his work here. I bought his book on bad words and enjoyed it. After listening to that book I bought a hard copy and shared it with a friend. So I am a fan of his previous work. This book presents a topic and a point of view that needs to be in the public square. But McWhorter takes an approach that is so demeaning and mean spirited toward those he disagrees with that I had to turn it off. There is good stuff here but I could not deal with the demonization of "wrong ideas". Maybe McWhorters has more of a "true believer" bent than he thinks he does, or maybe he thinks this is what sells. The packing of his ideas destroys some very good points.
I finished the book and it confirmed my previous impressions. McWhorthers suggests a turn to a more practical response racism by setting a realistic action agenda that improves lives here and now. His agenda of reforming drug policy, promoting vocational preparation and sticking with proven reading education techniques all provide needed help. I do not join in his fear of a demonic movement he calls "woke antiracism". There is excessive talking and misguided action around many issues. McWhoters is justified in pointing this out but his shift into attack mode is way over the top.

35 people found this helpful

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Exactly what needs to be said

Modern bigotry is no less bigoted because it’s socially acceptable or even because it draws on historical reality. This book makes the case clearly and powerfully.

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As usual, he approaches the unapproachable with stunning intellect and humor!

As usual, John McWhorter takes a seemingly unapproachable topic and more than making it approachable he transforms it into the understandable.

I’ve been reading McWhorter’s books for years, as well as listening to his Great Courses, and am so grateful that he is who he is, and WHEN he is, to be able to meet this topic head on in his particular style.

Thanks, Dr McWhorter, for your work.

31 people found this helpful

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Scathing


this is one of the most honest critiques of woke culture and critical race theory I’ve ever seen. It was long overdue. His contention that they’re really unreachable religious fanatics makes a world sense to those of us who’ve actually tried having honest and rational conversations with the clergy of the woke.

26 people found this helpful

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Liberating clear thinking

I found the ideas in this book refreshingly rational and clearly expressed. It's a very timely book that many people would benefit from reading, but many would be offended by because of its challenge to a new orthodoxy in the US. My only criticism is it's relentlessly snide and sarcastic tone, especially so in the audible version.

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Author speaks as well as writes!

The title “Linquist” fits the author perfectly. His captivating ideas are as poignant as his meticulous speech. As educational as entertaining. It’s a shame he used his time repeatedly to inform us how much he disliked Donald Trump. He rails against terror yet labels another he disagrees with “a monster.” It would be nice to get a break from the political mudslinging.

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Clearly stated and supported

Woke Racism is a very clear description of the roots of the fascism on the left being a religious belief and not an intellectual proposition. It clearly describes the supposedly unassailable dogma I find to be creeping into professional development within the school district where I teach.

15 people found this helpful

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the most important book of our time. Nuff Said!

like I said. this is the most important book of our time. Buy it now. trust me.

12 people found this helpful