The Psychosis of Whiteness: Surviving the Insanity of a Racist World
Britain has an unfortunate tendency to import the more questionable aspects of American culture, and so it is proving with Critical Race Theory (CRT). Both the literature and the practice have been in the UK for some time and will doubtless further their incursion into schools once transgenderism has finished its turn.
Now that the US armed forces are advised to read Ibram X. Kendi, Britain has some catching up to do, and a new, home-grown addition to the CRT pantheon is vying for position in a boom industry, The Psychosis of Whiteness (PW), by Professor Kehinde Andrews. Professor Andrews is attached to the Birmingham City University School of Social Sciences and is described as “an activist” on his university’s webpage. “Kehinde led leading the development of the Black Studies degree and is director of the Centre for Critical Social Research; founder of the Harambee Organisation of Black Unity; and co-chair of the Black Studies Association.” Yes indeed, he is an activist.
His university provides a good working definition of CRT, along with a word of warning to its critics;
From its origin in US legal studies, CRT has grown to become one of the most important perspectives on racism in education internationally. Frequently attacked by detractors who over-simplify and caricature the approach, CRT offers an insightful and nuanced approach to understanding the processes that shape and sustain race inequality in society.
It is not easy to over-simplify CRT, as its initial problem is that it is a one-trick pony. There are only so many ways in which you can say that the White man is evil and oppressive, the Black man sainted and oppressed. And after a while, as the books plod by, they begin to read like a series of women’s romance novels, where each plot differs slightly but is basically the same formulaic stroll through familiar territory.
Dogma aside, another central problem with CRT is that the model of rationality it uses is not one the post-Enlightenment West is used to. The CRT professional’s riposte to this charge would be that the Enlightenment was a White man’s enterprise, and therefore part of the problem (even though slavery appeared in the West before the Enlightenment and was eradicated in the century after it appeared). Unfortunately, White men didn’t invent rationality, they discovered it, and it is not quite as malleable as CRT suggests.
The reasoning used in CRT is not tethered to the objective world, and the result is that the practitioner can switch from objectivity to subjectivity as easily as a roulette player moves his chips from red to black. And so race is a social construct unless it pertains to one of the White races, in which case it is an immovable part of the objective world. The guiding idea in CRT (and “woke” thinking in general) is that epistemology offers a range of choices, like a supermarket. This has been called “standpoint epistemology”, giving rise to expressions like “my truth” and allied to and supported by a co-axial language in which ordinary words are co-opted and invested with meaning by diktat rather than traditional meanings. But while we are wearily used to reading about “micro-aggressions”, “unconscious bias”, “White fragility”, “systemic racism”, and all the other jingles, PW has an addition to the lexicon; psychosis.
As an aside before Professor Andrews presents his working concept of psychosis, the book’s preface reminisces about childhood television, and how Black programs were “oases in a desert of Whiteness” (Blacks do seem to require race-based television). He does not mention the current wilding of British televisual drama featuring, among many metamorphoses, a Black Anne Boleyn. There is a host of other actors on British TV today whose characters have transitioned not in terms of gender but rather genetics. I wrote about this at Occidental Observer here. But on to psychosis.
With the word in the book’s title, a working definition of “psychosis” is obviously required, and Professor Andrews consults DSM V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual). Despite the book being criticized by some as a sales catalogue for the pharmaceutical industry, it is the Bible of psychiatry, and as such a perfectly valid starting-point.
Professor Andrews finds psychosis to be a sub-set of schizophrenia, of which the author has experience through family diagnoses. The following seems like an incidental observation, but it is key to understanding Professor Andrews’ epistemology;
Brain scans of schizophrenics show observable changes to the structure of the brain over time. By any measure, schizophrenia is as ‘real’ a condition as there is. [Italics added].
While brain-scans, writes the professor, confirm schizophrenia, psychosis is purely subjective. We have moved swiftly from the bio-medical, objective plane in which brain-scans are valid diagnostic tools, to one in which they are not. So, although we appeared to have access to a working medical definition of psychosis, we change direction, learning that “[P]sychosis is a political construct rather than an objective medical diagnosis”. Despite the apparent scientific validity of familial brain-scans, scientific definition is invalid because “One of the delusions of Whiteness is that ‘science’ is an objective pursuit, free from the constraints of politics and emotion”. Emotion is the default position for CRT, and politics crucial to the very essence of the Black experience;
“Blackness is defined by politics and not by skin tone”.
So, Professor Andrews has defined psychosis as a sub-set of a condition which can be objectively proved by scientific method, but claims that it is purely subjective. The medical world would not necessarily agree. Dr. Graham Blackman, for example, psychiatrist and clinical lecturer at Oxford University, has noted this year that;
“Patients presenting with psychosis may have another physical illness or condition causing their symptoms that can be identified using MRI scanning”.
So, after a fleeting visit to objective science, we have moved to the familiar postmodern idea of objective givens as subjective constructs. Indeed, for Professor Andrews, the whole psychotic state is subjective and, instead of trying to further clarify what it might be, he states that “We must problematize the term psychosis, a condition that does not exist outside the imagination of the diagnoser”. In another twist, it is now the person supplying the diagnosis who is the one hosting the condition in her imagination. Professor Andrews alludes to Alice in Wonderland with reference to the television, and his definition of “psychosis” is certainly getting curiouser and curiouser.
Psychosis, then, relies on the bedrock of the medical but is also a political and emotional construct. And there is more;
“Given the racist history of psychiatry and its inheritance of a deeply racialized idea of what mental health is, I use the term ‘psychosis of Whiteness’ as a provocation”.
And we are not done yet.
“I use psychosis here as a metaphor”.
Objective medical condition, subjective state of hallucination, provocation, metaphor. “Psychosis” is proving to be an elusive quarry.
Professor Andrews is on firmer ground when it comes to the relationship between psychosis and Blacks. The consideration of Black mental illness is among the first of many puzzles Professor Andrews solves by applying the principle of limited degrees of racial separation. Whatever the problem for Blacks, the ultimate cause can be traced unfailingly back to the White man, and his complex psychosis, that provocative metaphor which is now objective, now subjective, now pragmatic, now hallucinatory. And so the increased likelihood of Blacks being diagnosed with mental illness is easily explained;
“Sadly, it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy that Black people are more likely to suffer serious mental illness because living with racism is in itself a source of trauma”.
Whites even dominate mental illness. “Black people,” we are told, “do not have a happy history with the word psychosis. The term has historically been used as a stick to beat us with”.
Curiously, and if this is the case, it is reminiscent of another era and a famous and now vanished state which at one time used mental illness as a stick with which to beat their opponents, and Professor Andrews rather lets us in on what he would like to see in terms of the White electorate.
Professor Andrews correctly observes that delusions of grandeur can be symptomatic of psychosis — they have been linked in the clinical literature — and naturally ascribes this trait to the White ruling class. But he goes further;
“[W]hy were bumbling charlatans and closet fascists being elected all over the world? But the answer is simple: delusions of grandeur aren’t just reserved for the men themselves but are shared by much of the voting public”.
When Whitey votes for Whitey, then they must be mentally ill. This is reminiscent of Soviet Russia, in which the KGB often incarcerated political dissidents in mental hospitals with a diagnosis of “sluggish schizophrenia”.
The psychosis of Whiteness is at least an equal opportunities psychosis;
It cannot be reiterated strongly enough that the psychosis of Whiteness is not reserved just for those with White skin. There are countless historic and present-day examples of racialized shucking and jiving to the tune of White supremacy to pocket some pieces of silver.
Judas Iscariot did not dance for his silver (at least the Bible makes no mention of it), but his payment was for betrayal, and Professor Andrews devotes a chapter to those often described by their brethren as “Uncle Tom” and “house nigger”. This is a particularly hated species for the professional Black academic. Tony Sewell, the Black British education expert who has done so much to improve outcomes for Black schoolchildren, is repeatedly mocked. Professor Andrews writes of “the Sewage Sewell report”, this strike-through being a device he uses several times for the purposes of unsophisticated humor. Channeling a 14-year-old blogger doesn’t enhance the professor’s academic style, and Mr. Sewell has obviously riled him by going off the plantation to work in the house for the master. One of CRT’s many fortune-cookie mottoes is “White fragility”, but the Black version is a good deal more delicate.
Despite the fact that we have rather a rickety working definition of psychosis, Professor Andrews is in no doubt about the other half of his title; Whiteness. One of the central formulae of the CRT grift is as follows: Black achievement is due to Blackness, Black failure is due to Whiteness. This is empirically unverifiable, but we must not forget that objective science is a White enterprise and as such invalid, unless temporarily required by a Black academic for a diagnostic brain-scan or some such. Science aside, part of the CRT stratagem is to rig the argument in order to make it unwinnable for Whitey, and part of this gaming of the system is to concentrate not on the present, in which the racism required of Whites is hard work in the proving, but on the past.
Black race writers have a cognitively dissonant view of history. They need it as a grand narrative of oppression dominated by Whites in order to fund their grievance — and protect their revenue stream — but they also require a revisionism which shows that Blacks invented everything from the printing press to the Large Hadron Collider.
Historically, the grievance list is a long one for a short book, but it all proceeds down very well-trodden pathways, and Professor Andrews’ working maxim paraphrases Stalin’s deputy Beria’s famous instruction; Show me the White man, and I’ll show you the crime. And so there is plenty of standard Empire-bashing in PW, the Empire having been a slaughterhouse of rapine and looting with no evidence of having civilized the colonialized countries in any way. Segregation, Civil Rights, Jim Crow — the gang’s all here. Also present and correct is the obligatory attempted rebuttal of the moral relativity argument. With anything remotely woke, such as CRT, relativity is perfectly serviceable as a methodological tool unless Whitey is using it to excuse the past.
The argument over the applicability of contemporary standards of morality (such as they are) to events from the past prompts a bizarre comparison in PW in which the Professor utilizes a very English cultural reference in proposing the invalidity of pardoning the past because it was another country and they do things differently now;
By that logic we can’t condemn slavery, genocide, the denial of women to vote or any other atrocities committed in the past, as they were simply a product of their time. This is what I call the ‘Jimmy Savile defence’.
This is an extraordinary comparison. British DJ Jimmy Savile was found posthumously to have sexually abused many young children via his charity. Professor Andrews’ analogy implies that people now are excusing Savile because that’s just the way it was then (only the BBC covered for Savile), which they most certainly are not. There is always the feeling that CRT operators such as Professor Andrews get suckered into absurd notions because they give them the conventional reinforcement they crave. Certain wrong ideas stick because they are useful. A small but telling example:
Professor Andrews misquotes Enoch Powell’s famous Birmingham speech of 1968 concerning immigration. All Left-wing commentators do this with the Powell speech because the falsehood is always more appealing than the facts if it satisfies the narrative under construction, and so Professor Andrews writes of “Powell’s warning that blood would run in the streets as a result of multiculturalism”. Powell, of course, said no such thing, but made a classical allusion to the river Tiber “foaming with much blood” as a portent for trouble ahead.
Professor Andrews also seems unclear on other political events. Democracy appears to be a White playground in which the biggest boy wins. “In 2019”, writes the professor, “Boris Johnson had forced his way into the leadership of this country”. Johnson was leader of the Conservative Party which won a General Election. He therefore became Prime Minister, and that is how British democracy has worked for centuries. But if Whitey wins anything, illegitimate force must be lurking somewhere. No White Briton in a position of power is legitimate, he is a plantation owner manqué. There is, unsurprisingly, plenty in PW on slavery, the center of gravity of CRT.
Professor Andrews also makes much of the fears of Whites that they will be over-run by “Darkies” (the Professor’s term). But Whites needn’t worry;
For all the existential crises about minorities becoming the majority, or even the optimism that this might lead to powerful coalitions, the data tells us that the future is white. [Italics added]
The inventory of imagined grievances of a Black academic, which is all he provides, is not “data”, but we already know he has no idea what real data would look like. Maybe he means that civilization will remain predominantly White simply because the space Whites increasingly choose not to inhabit will almost certainly not qualify as civilized.
Which leads us to the familiar trope of “White flight”. In terms of relocation, Whites are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. Whites moving into a Black area – which I saw happen in Brixton, south London, in the 1990s – is sneered at as “gentrification”, while Whites leaving Black areas is cursed as “White flight”. But Professor Andrews seems rather indignant that Whites should want to move away from vibrant and diverse ‘hoods’:
Most White people do not live near or socialize with racialized minorities, and this segregation is both a cause and effect of the psychosis of Whiteness.
Yes, that must be it. This is followed by another misdiagnosis;
“White middle-class people are the most self-segregating group. They move as far away from minorities as possible and are proud of it”.
A social scientist should be able to tell pride from relief. Obviously, fear of Blackness and its range of social problems from crime to dysfunctional schools is the reason people want to move out of Black areas, but “Through the distorting lens of the psychosis of Whiteness, all Black people are a threat, aliens to be feared”.
This is absurd. Some Black people actually are a physical threat — not least to each other. But fortunately they have been marked out — or their culture has marked them out — like venomous creatures in the wild with bright markings, and one can note the way Blacks dress, walk, speak, act, and look at White people, and act accordingly. Gold chains and teeth, walking with a pimp roll, trousers at half-mast? These are all reliable indicators of dangerous Blacks. The rest of them are not a threat except in cultural terms.
Professor Andrews is less than charitable to some of those one would expect to be his allies, and he distrusts the anti-racism complex. The reader gets the sense that the writer wants to forge ahead in the race to build a world without Whitey (even though the future is said to be White), and so needs a few new ideas to attract readers who, as noted, might be in need of a fresh angle in a field rapidly becoming stale. There isn’t really much more you can build in the house of CRT once you’ve got the central supporting wall of White guilt for Black dysfunction in place. CRT is like ideological Cat’s Cradle; the strands look separate, but they are joined in one long, continuous thread.
Professor Andrews has no time for White conversion therapy;
“There is no evidence that engaging White people in discussions of Whiteness makes any difference to how they see the world”.
This is a blessing for White people, as Blacks quizzing Whites about their racism is like the Voight-Kampff test in Blade Runner, carefully crafted and cross-referenced questions designed to see if a White — or an “Oreo” Black — is a real anti-racist or a replicant.
Professor Andrews also shares a central concern with other CRT scribes: himself. The hero is never far from the narrative and it is he. Black people very often have a heightened sense of dramatic self-importance, and their academics do not differ in this. Walking into the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Professor Andrews “felt physically sick. The design is no different to that of any European art museum, sporting the fake columns and calicos of the Renaissance”. In the academic workplace, “I can attest to a daily assault of microaggressions [and] the fact that my wounds are not larger is a privilege”. Then there is the traumatic legacy of Blackface, minstrel shows, “the disgusting golliwog toy”. It is often apparent that the problem with Black CRT academics is not the color of their skin but its thickness, or lack thereof.
Although Professor Andrews is not a keen-eyed observer of Britain’s current public sector hiring policies, he still wishes to remind us that he is a victim:
Affirmative action will probably never happen in Britain, but I have heard derisive ‘affirmative action hire’ remarks upon my elevation to professor thrown at me more times than I care to remember.
I doubt very much that he has heard such remarks, given today’s Stasi-like academic environment. And affirmative action has been happening in the UK for at least twenty years, when it began to be commonplace in England to see job ads with the tagline “People from ethnic minority backgrounds are particularly encouraged to apply for this position”. I know. I saw them when I was looking for a job. Most recently, and as one example from many available, Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) announced that their hiring policy would be to “stop hiring useless White males”.
Sweeping and dramatic statements punctuate the text to boost the tragic historical role of the Black man. The Jewish quarter are not going to like the Professor’s wish that ex-slave plantations in the Caribbean now used as wedding destinations and restaurants, “should be treated with the same dignity with which we treat former Nazi concentration camps”.
And students of the history of industry might be surprised at this curt summation of the English century that changed the world, produced by White men and benefiting people of all colors:
Three hundred years of murdering and treating Black people as animals provided the fuel for the industrial revolution that has shaped the world we live in today.
The Psychosis of Whiteness is pure Nietzschean ressentiment, written not from the standpoint of the oppressed or enslaved, or even in alliance with them, but by someone who simply sees the White man and hates what he sees: phenomena such as invention, civilization, order (at one time), and successful nation-states rather than chaotic failures. What methodology there is here suffers from an emotive approach and a resultant and pathological need to tear down imaginary prison walls. Professor Andrews makes obligatory mention of “deconstructing Whiteness”. Academics love the phrase “deconstruction” because it makes them feel as though they are turned into the currently fashionable academic jargon. .
Professor Andrews shares common cause with organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League in America, and HOPE not Hate and Stop Funding Hate in the UK. They all operate a self-fulfilling prophecy by which their all-consuming need to see racism everywhere makes them see racism everywhere, like the possessed nuns of Loudon in 1634, shrieking as they saw devils in every corner.
“The aim of this book,” writes Professor Andrews, “is to demonstrate that Whiteness is deluded, irrational, and based on a set of collective hallucinations”. But, as we have seen, to make an accusation of irrationality from an irrational position presents a fine philosophical conundrum. If you want to base your book around what Plato called “illegitimate reasoning”, be my guest. It didn’t seem to bother the French post-structuralists. But a sociology professor ought to be able to do better than this dime-store psychology (or Poundland psychology in Britain). Stay in your lane, would be my advice.
From our perspective, books such as these are useful indicators, like litmus paper or barometers, or other White inventions that measure the nature of the world. This is an important book for three reasons.
Firstly, it exemplifies the epistemological confusion at the heart of CRT. Truth becomes an iPad in an Apple store, available to whoever grabs it first. Secondly, it shows the seething, simmering hatred the Black CRT caucus has for the White man. It makes them feel good about themselves, though — raises their self-esteem. So they keep on doing it. Much of CRT’s race-baiting voodoo is actually therapy for academics such as Professor Andrews, like letting out your rage in primal scream therapy or psychodrama.
Thirdly, it shows a deep-seated fear of the White man. Not a physical fear, and not a “phobia” like Islamophobia or transphobia, which are more concerned with perceived hate speech and hate crimes. No, this is a fear of what the White man can achieve in adversity, which is where he is now.
But the real fear is not the presence of the White man but his absence, although this is gruffly denied by Professor Andrews: “One of the most dangerous delusions of the psychosis is believing that we are lost without the White man”. Like in Africa.
Professor Andrews seems to be suggesting Black separatism, a plan many, many Whites would heartily endorse, and Godspeed you on your way to the new Wakanda. But should Blacks ever get what they wish for, and for Professor Andrews that is to “collectively work to build a reality free from White supremacy”, they must be careful what it is they wish for, and heed Kipling’s warning in the poem The White Man’s Burden;
“And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch Sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought”