Jason L. Riley is a Black opinion columnist writing for the Wall Street Journal. His recent column “‘White Nationalism Isn’t American Minorities’ Biggest Problem” starts with these words:
““End the violence toward Asians,” said the promotional fliers. “Let’s unite against white nationalism.””
What he talks about in the column is that most of the violence against Asian Americans has come from Black people and not white people.
I read this and was like, Really? The Wall Street Journal got a Black man to say it? I guess if you pay enough you can get some people to say anything. But let’s think about what the function of this article is. When it comes down to it, all it does is draw attention away from the real and visceral problem of white nationalism and blame the Black community for Asian suffering. And it doesn’t really zoom in on Asian American experience except in passing. The Asian American deaths are just a pawn of the article to revamp the argument that he makes so often, namely that Black people are the problem.
They’re not the problem. The system is the problem. It’s called systemic racism.
What Riley doesn’t notice, or at least he doesn’t acknowledge it, is that there aren’t Black people, with power and privilege, gathering together to plot against Asian Americans. That’s what white nationalists do against people of color specifically, and especially against Black people. And they also have privilege and power in our society.
This is not the time to play devil’s advocate, Riley. White nationalism is a problem and we don’t need this press right now as white people, that further villainizes the Black community, and takes the focus off of our own journey of coming to grips with our complicity in white nationalism as white people who don’t denounce white supremacy often enough. Black people can’t breathe right now, and the WSJ has a Black person writing about how Black people are the problem. Obviously, I get his point, he’s not wrong, but he’s also not fully right. The point he is making is not the point that needs addressing in the WSJ.
Don’t get me wrong: If he had written the column in the NYT I would be over the moon to see it, because it would bring cognitive diversity. This however, is accurate, but not what WSJ readers need. I needed it, but I’m not your typical WSJ reader.
What really needs attention is that there has been a massive uptick in anti-Asian American violence. That is a crisis that definitely needs publicity. We will need to unpack our bias on that issue for a long time as Americans in the emerging post-Covid era. It is a dangerous time for the Asian community, and yes, apparently the racism is coming from many races, and the violence as well. We should be very alarmed. I’ll try to write about this again soon.