Book Review

Hanging the guilt on us all: reflections on Yacavone’s ‘Teaching White Supremacy’

by Aaron Warner

Donald Yacavone is a self-described scholar and lifetime associate of African American studies at Harvard University.  He visited the Norwich Bookstore last week to speak about his new book “Teaching White Supremacy”: America’s Democratic Ordeal and the Forging of Our National Identity”.  Having seen the announcement on the Hanover Listserv, I was struck by this statement: 

“Yacavone lays out the arc of America’s white supremacy from the country’s inception and Revolutionary War years to its nineteenth-century flashpoint of civil war to the civil rights movement of the 1960s and today’s Black Lives Matter.”

Donald Yacavone speaks at Norwich Bookstore

The inclusion of Black Lives Matter as a source of cultural necessity rather than as a denunciation of encroaching Marxism had me wondering if the author was another elite socialist masquerading as a scholar. 

The term white supremacy, like racism, is losing its meaning from sheer overuse.  Like so many other monikers created by the Marxist’s it is being used as a combination warning label and insult to denigrate and defame anyone who is not a Marxist.  A lack of linguistic integrity in both meaning and purpose is essential to effective political Marxism. 

I have the distinct pleasure of having a brother who was a member of a white supremacist group throughout his teen years.  His brief stint in prison in his early twenties, where racial supremacist groups/gangs are a matter of survival, only strengthened this twisted ideological view of his fellow man, and this despite having lived for a short period in a foster home run by a black family.  

Oddly, his time with them was not bad because of them or their race, they were Christians who treated him well.  His bitterness was from the letdown suffered by our mom leaving our adulterous father. Essentially, he was fatherless by the age of three, which, like with so many young men, caused a cascade of emotional instability that made him susceptible to gang manipulation.  In his case it was the skinheads/Aryan Brotherhood.  For a boy dealing with rejection and inferiority brought about by a deadbeat dad the idea of being accepted in a superior group is comforting. 

Why would I refer to this as a distinct pleasure? Because today my brother is also a Christian who no longer holds his white supremacist worldview. Sure, he still has a rough around the edges way about him, and his opinions regarding people aren’t as refined as say a Harvard intellectual, but they’re also not as absurd.  My brother is one of many redemption stories of fatherlessness wreaking havoc only to find an Almighty Father who can make all things new. 

I grew up with the same parenting yet never embraced racial hatred.  My best friend through middle school into high school, Lanny (short for Orlando), was mulatto and my friend group, largely thanks to sports, was a multicultural as it gets: Scott Lee (Chinese), Mike Nguyen (Vietnamese), Steve Amato (Italian-Jew), Benish Tharakan (Indian), Brian Williams (Native American) Raymond Nacoste (African American), Josh Rodriguez (Mexican), etc. My school was full of all types of ethnicities and virtually none of us held racial animus toward anyone.  There were a few in our neighborhood but we all knew who they were, they ostracized themselves, and we shared a certain pity laced with hope for their eventual emancipation from bigotry. 

Yacavone’s begins by claiming he set out to write about the abolitionists only to be inundated with textbooks in the Harvard Library system, mostly from the 1800s, that contained, to his dismay, blatant examples of pedagogical white supremacy.  With the erudite sensitivity of a man of Ivy League culture, he pleads his case to an ironically all white room in the wealthiest town in Vermont.  A lone young black woman there to film the event sits at the back.  She wears a mask and has a bright rainbow Black Lives Matter patch on her denim jacket.  The spirit of progressivism is in the air. 

Yacavone’s voice timbres as he recounts the shocking things said by men once considered great by other American’s.  His eyes search the room for allies who agree America has always been naughty. 

Certainly, the quotes he shares reveal a level of scientific ignorance common at those times.  Not unlike the modern Ivy League, the people back then were quick to adopt the latest thing, in their case the idea of races and racial superiority.  Though quick to name names Yacavone oddly left out mention of Charles Darwin, who authored perhaps the two greatest texts of white supremacy. Darwin describes native Australians, Mongolians, Africans, Polynesians, and Eskimos as “savages” 180 times in his book Descent of Man & 14 times in his first book, Origin of the Species. I wonder how he missed that.

Yacavone seems less interested in exposing the roots of white supremacy rather than hanging the guilt of adopting it on all of American history.  Almost triumphantly he walks us back down corridors of American history to remind us of how ugly, benighted and naive we were as infants.  He does so with an implicit moral authority although never telling us from whence his superior morality comes.  Like with his audience’s political leanings, it’s assumed. 

I can’t help but notice his examples run dry around the 1950s.  After that he relies on anecdotes, one from his hometown in Medford, Massachusetts.  We learn of a black girl who says her time at school there caused her to hate being black.  We don’t learn why she said it, or from what text books, just that she felt that way.  This is not scholarship, this is gossip.  

Yacavone summons us to recoil with similar horror from a story of a seventh grade class of black children told by someone at the Boston Children’s Museum that they are not allowed to bring “food, water or watermelon” inside with them.  Likewise, this proves nothing about white supremacy from American texts as much as it does about a common ignorance of stereotyping and simple stupidity. 

I am not Ivy League material, nor have I ever been more thankful for that fact. Yet I can see through Mr. Yacavone’s shoddy approach and incongruent argumentation.  However, he wasn’t there to win critical thinkers like me over, he was there to sell books to members of the cult of ideological supremacy. He’s a Marxist, whether he admits it or not, and they are the fastest growing cult in America, and well established in Cambridge book circles. 

How can I say this with confidence?  Rather than read the first part of his book, which is to watch him dig up the bones of ignorant American’s and slap them for being dead, I skip to the last chapter titled Renewing the Challenge.  What is the threat today, I wonder?  Who is still teaching white supremacy in our schools?  

Turns out it’s Marxists like Mr. Yacavone who can’t accept what the rest of the country already had when we celebrated Sidney Poitier, Aretha Franklin, MLK, Clarence Thomas, Barbara Boxer, Condoleeza Rice, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Denzel Washingon, Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama.  The living proof that America is not racist nor does it continue to espouse white supremacy, which may be, for Marxists like Yacavone, its greatest sin.  

Categories: Book Review

8 replies »

  1. Nationally syndicated talk show host Dennis Prager will be the featured speaker at the “Restoring Our Faith” summit, to be held at the Double Tree Hotel in South Burlington on Oct. 25. Here is a ‘Short History of Slavery’ piece sponsored by Prager U. and narrated by Candace Owens, a black woman.

    Ms. Owen’s presentation has far more credibility than does anything I’ve seen from this elitist, Harvard U., history revisionist, Italian ancestry, white man from Hartford, CT.

  2. Once I started reading, I could not stop. Thank you for sharing your life and words.

  3. So true !!! Although they were persecuted for it Joe McCarthy and Roy Cohn were right. History will not treat congress well for relegating those fine Americans to obscurity. They tried to educate an ungreatful public about the danger of SOCIALISM.

    This song was meant as satire but i think the songwriter stumbled on the truth.

  4. There’s a distinction: Marxists don’t really ‘want control’… they want the government to have control. And, yes, they want to be appointed (if not elected) to positions within that government that pay well (including retirement and other benefits) without being held to account for successful performance. In other words, for the Marxist, it’s about the avoidance of personal responsibility, not individual merit. Otherwise, racism would have ceased to be an issue decades ago with the 1960 Civil Rights Act.

    As a result, Marxists continue to move the goal posts. Today, it doesn’t matter that the law prohibits discrimination and that offenders are prosecuted for their malfeasance. Today, the problem Marxists gravitate to is that those who advocate a meritocracy and individual accountability are inherently racist… because they advocate for individual rights and freedoms. Even those who are not ‘white’ are labeled as being racists when they advocate for individual liberty and freedom.

    Marxism, Socialism, Communism… call it what you will – it’s the governance of cowards.