White Guilt by Shelby Steele

Summary of White Guilt

In White Guilt, Shelby Steele ties together two journeys: one, his drive up the California coastline on a beautiful autumn day, and two, his socio-political evolution from radical leftist to “conservative black man.” Long drives often give us time to reflect on important matters, and one can’t help but feel transported along the winding roads beside the sea with Steele as he uses the occasion of Bill Clinton’s impeachment to ponder how much America has changed in his lifetime. He grew up in the age of blatant, public racism, lived through the Civil Rights Movement, and then came of age in the years after Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed. The difference between his childhood and his young adult years is stark, being characterized by white calls “white guilt,” which he defines as “the vacuum of moral authority that comes from simply knowing that one’s race is associated with racism.” (24)

Moral authority, particularly its absence among and the search for it by whites, is one of three important themes in White Guilt. The racism found throughout America’s history, once finally acknowledged by whites, has emptied white America (and American institutions) of moral authority, not just in matters of race, but in everything. The quest to regain moral authority by whites must now run through matters of race. “Whites (and American institutions) must acknowledge historical racism to show themselves redeemed of it, but once they acknowledge it, they lose moral authority over everything having to do with race, equality, social justice, poverty, and so on.” (24) Moral authority is contingent upon proving that you aren’t racist. The inheritance of historical guilt by whites means that they are obligated to blacks because only blacks can give whites their moral authority back. Much of the virtue signaling that we see among the Woke, therefore, is at least in part the effort of Woke whites to regain the moral authority forfeited by their racist ancestors.

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Woke Oppression

We have, thus far, defined Wokeness as “compassion for the oppressed.” This definition, however, is not as straightforward as it might appear. In the previous essay we outlined the three elements of Woke compassion: critical awareness, political advocacy, and social activism. With this understanding of Woke compassion in mind, we come to the following definition: Wokeness is critical awareness of, political advocacy for, and social activism on behalf of the oppressed. But who are the oppressed? And just as importantly, who are their oppressors? Let us now seek to understand oppression in Woke terms.

The Oppressor/Oppressed Dynamic

While the following idea will be discussed in more detail in future essays, it is important to state that Wokeness is a manifestation of cultural Marxism. This means that the principles of Marxism, particularly the oppressor/oppressed group conflict as the foundation of history, underlie Wokeness, even if they are applied in different ways. Cultural Marxism is the application of Marxist theory to cultural institutions like family, religion, art, education, law, etc. In traditional Marxism, where the conflict is primarily along economic lines, the oppressors are the upper class and the oppressed are the working class. Cultural Marxism takes this power-conflict out of the material world, the world of economics, and places it in the psychological world, the realm of thoughts, motivations, and desires. Thanks to the work of Sigmund Freud, the Frankfurt School, Antonio Gramsci, Wilhelm Reich, and others, the Marxist history of group conflict is now internalized and personalized. The result is that now one is free to see the oppressor/oppressed dynamic at work in every aspect of society and culture, and especially in one’s own personal life, often simmering just below the surface, in the subconscious of both groups and individuals.


Because of cultural Marxism, one is free to see the oppressor/oppressed dynamic at work in every aspect of society and culture, and especially in one’s own personal life.

“The psychologizing of oppression and the placing of it at the center of the history of human society plays directly to the idea that history is something to be overcome. After all, [according to Marx] the history of humanity is the history of oppression and victimhood. In Marx this was understood in economic terms, but from the mid-twentieth century onward it became psychological.”[1] If oppression is psychological, then it is also personal. If it is personal, then it is also subjective, an experience of one’s interior world. The oppressed person is now understood to be the victim, not only of acts of oppression against himself as an individual, but of all historical acts of oppression, persecution, bigotry, etc. committed against the group with which he identifies. For example, in Cultural Marxism, African-Americans perpetually belong to the victim class because of the history in America of African enslavement. This is true regardless of whether or not individual African-Americans wish to understand themselves as victims or oppressed. There is no opting out of the oppressor/oppressed dynamic in Wokeness. One can, however, be booted from one’s privileged position as victim by having the wrong politics, as the Los Angeles Times made clear when they opined that Larry Elder, a black conservative running for governor of California, was “the black face of white supremacy.”[2]

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Kingdom Race Theology by Tony Evans

Summary of Kingdom Race Theology

Kingdom Race Theology is Tony Evans’ biblical response to the secular, and Marxist, doctrine commonly known as Critical Race Theory. Evans is a “kingdomologist,” which means that his understanding of the Christian faith is centered on the biblical concept of the kingdom of God, which he defines as “the visible manifestation of the comprehensive rule of God.” (11) This little book is a primer on a kingdom approach to race, justice, and the unity of the Church. While he does not unilaterally reject Critical Race Theory, Evans is quick to point out that is both insufficient and divisive, and more importantly, that it is unbiblical. Even so, the Critical Race Theorists may have some good points worth considering, even if the solutions of people like Ibram Kendi and Robin DiAngelo fall short of God’s kingdom standard. The answers of CRT will never work, because “the solutions to the issues we face today are found only by applying a biblical and divine standard as answers to the questions before us.” (7)

Evans is careful to provide clear definitions for terms like racism, systemic racism, biblical justice, and other concepts that tend to get obfuscated in the broader cultural discussion around race. He defines his most important term, Kingdom Race Theology, this way: “The reconciled recognition, affirmation, and celebration of the divinely created ethnic differences through which God displays his multifaceted glory and advances his rule in history. God displays his glory through us while his people justly, righteously, and responsibly function in personal and corporate unity under the lordship of Jesus Christ.” (45) Ephesians 1:10 tells us that God’s will is “to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” This unity brings glory to God, and like everything God does on earth, is primarily accomplished through human beings. Human beings are created by God with ethnic difference, and therefore God’s will is to work through the variety of human ethnic groups to bring this unity into being, which is for the praise of his glory.

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Christianity in the Age of Wokeness

The first episode of the podcast is available for anyone who wants to listen, or watch, because as of right now we are only posting the video of our conversations online. Once we get some things ironed out we will create a podcast feed for Apple Podcasts, or wherever else we can figure out where to publish it. We originally called the podcast The Neighbros, but discovered after posting it to YouTube that some other dudes are already using that name. So it’s back to the drawing board for a podcast name now.

In this episode, Corey and I introduce ourselves and hit the highlights of my first essay in the Christianity in the Age of Wokeness series, Woke Apocalypse. We talk about the ongoing cycle of beasts and antichrists as the book of Revelation plays out over the past 2,000 years, and how Wokeness is the beast of our current age. We also talk about how God’s will, as revealed in Ephesians 1, is to unite all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. The present work of the beast through Wokeness is to divide humanity, pitting people against each other based on identity markers. In podcast episode 1 we go on to discuss the nature of evil, and how it can be identified by the presence of lies and deception. We also talk a bit about the difference between growing in our understanding of faith and deconstructing our faith.

If you’re interested in following along with the discussion, feel free to subscribe on YouTube. Even though the name of the podcast will change, we’ll still be posting all future episodes on that channel. We’d also love to hear from you! If you have a question or comment that you’d like for us to discuss on future episodes, go ahead and leave a comment either on this post, or on the video on YouTube.

In the last essay we defined Wokeness as “compassion for the oppressed.” While this is a good start, it doesn’t quite capture the true nature of Wokeness. The Woke, after all, have very little in common with The Little Sisters of the Poor, for example, or even Dorothy Day, at least after she converted to Catholicism. It is insufficient, then, to say that the Woke are animated purely by compassion, or that they are trying to do the Lord’s work. Compassion may be an animating force in a general sense, but we must try to be as specific as possible because it would be wrong, both historically and morally, to conflate social compassion, much less Christian compassion, with Wokeness. Mother Theresa was not Woke. Neither was Martin Luther King, Jr. Just because two movements identify the same problem does not mean that they offer the same solution or adhere to the same underlying ideology. Identifying social ills is easy. Creating solutions is the hard part.

Christian Compassion

It’s worth taking a moment to parse out Christian compassion. The word compassion literally means “to suffer with” someone, so to be compassionate transcends the emotional state of sorrow for someone in difficult circumstances. (Though it certainly includes this!) To demonstrate compassion is to walk alongside someone in their hardship, which means to engage in their struggle in a helpful way. Paul encouraged believers to “carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2) The law of Christ is summed up in three related commands: 1) Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; 2) Love your neighbor as yourself; and 3) As I [Jesus] have loved you [my disciples], so you must love one another. Compassion, therefore, is an expression of love. To be more specific, it is an expression of agape love, which is the love referenced in all three of those commands.


Compassion is an expression of agape love.

Compassion is one expression of love, but it is not the only expression of love. (Another expression of love that all Christians are familiar with is self-sacrifice, which is what Jesus did for us at the cross. He said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”) Compassion is, therefore, subordinate to agape love (or charity as it used to be called) and cannot be rightly expressed, at least in any conceivably Christian way, apart from love. This makes compassion an important, but secondary, virtue. It does not stand above love. Instead, love provides the context in which compassion is rightly expressed. Compassion is a governed, not a governing, virtue. The highest virtues that govern the rest are wisdom, courage, justice, temperance, faith, hope, and love. These are what the Church has traditionally called the cardinal virtues. It is one thing, for example, to exercise justice without the virtue of mercy. This may seem harsh, but it is fair and good, so long as the judge stays within the confines of true justice. It is something else entirely to exercise mercy without justice. How could a society survive in such a state? (Incidentally, this is precisely what certain cities appear to be doing by allowing shoplifters to steal up to $900 worth of goods without facing a penalty. These lawmakers think they are being merciful, but they are placing an immensely large burden upon the shoulders of store owners, managers, and retail workers by refusing to pursue justice on their behalf.)

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