A New York psychiatrist invited to give a lecture at Yale University spoke about her fantasies of murdering white people, while insisting that racism is an inherent part of “whiteness.” University officials have since restricted public access to the talk while distancing themselves from the comments in an effort to downplay their role in promoting these backward conceptions.
The April 6 online lecture, “The Psychopathic Problem of the White Mind,” was presented by the Yale School of Medicine’s Child Study Center and delivered by Dr. Aruna Khilanani. The poster announcing the event listed several “learning objectives,” among which were: “Set up white people’s absence of empathy towards black rage as a problem” and “Understand how white people are psychologically dependent on black rage.”
In her profanity-laced rant, Dr. Khilanani identified the root cause of racism as the “white mind.”
“This is the cost of talking to white people at all,” she declared. “The cost of your own life, as they suck you dry. There are no good apples out there. White people make my blood boil.” She went on, “I had fantasies of unloading a revolver into the head of any white person that got in my way, burying their body, and wiping my bloody hands as I walked away relatively guiltless with a bounce in my step. Like I did the world a fucking favor.”
She spoke repeatedly about the futility of speaking to white people about race: “White people are out of their minds, and they have been for a long time… We keep forgetting that directly talking about race is a waste of our breath. We are asking a demented, violent predator who thinks that they are a saint or a superhero, to accept responsibility. It ain’t gonna happen. They have five holes in their brain. It’s like banging your head against a brick wall. It’s just like sort of not a good idea.”
Again, “We need to remember that directly talking about race to white people is useless, because they are at the wrong level of conversation. Addressing racism assumes that white people can see and process what we are talking about. They can’t. That’s why they sound demented. They don’t even know they have a mask on. White people think it’s their actual face. We need to get to know the mask.”
She spoke gleefully about how she cut all white people out of her life: “I took some actions… I systematically white-ghosted most of my white friends, and I got rid of the couple white BIPOCs [black, indigenous and people of color] that snuck in my crew, too.”
In the face of growing controversy, the university has worked to distance itself from the speech. The Yale School of Medicine released a statement calling the contents of the talk “antithetical to the values of the school.” The statement went on, “In deciding whether to post the video, we weighed our grave concern about the extreme hostility, imagery of violence, and profanity expressed by the speaker against our commitment to freedom of expression. We ultimately decided to post the video with access limited to those who could have attended the talk— the members of the Yale community.”
This amounts to a slap on the wrist for blatant hate speech and incitement to violence. Questions arise as to why Yale University, an Ivy League institution where future leaders of the bourgeois regime are groomed, would host a speech whose title implies that the “white mind” is inherently “psychopathic.” It reveals something about those sections of the ruling class represented by the Democratic Party, where identity politics have become mainstream.
As for the speaker, her social background is typical of members of the affluent middle classes. Described on her website as a “Forensic Psychiatrist and Psychoanalyst, with expertise in violence, racism, and marginalized identities,” Khilanani underwent training at New York University, Cornell and Columbia University.
Insulated in her privileged social milieu, her wholly irrational worldview—which holds that all white people, regardless of socioeconomic status, have an inherent “privilege” which grants them an advantage over other races—is a product of her utter divorce from the harsh realities that confront workers of all races. When asked in an interview why so many blacks and Hispanics voted for Donald Trump in 2020, she replied “It’s internalized whiteness.” In place of scientific analysis, the pseudo-left has found it much easier to invoke the strawman of “whiteness” to explain anything that contradicts their racialist theories.
Her views are not abnormal, even in her field. A May 27 article by Donald Moss published in the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association entitled “On Having Whiteness” describes “whiteness” as “a malignant, parasitic-like condition to which ‘white’ people have a particular susceptibility.” It goes on: “Parasitic Whiteness renders its hosts’ appetites voracious, insatiable, and perverse. These deformed appetites particularly target nonwhite peoples.” For such layers, anti-scientism and irrationalist conceptions have become the order of the day.
In this context, Khilanani’s words represent not the ramblings of a particularly deranged individual, but the articulation of the worldview of these affluent sections, which utilize identity politics as a weapon to obtain access to greater wealth and influence.
This form of commentary can have no other purpose than to enflame racial hatreds. When elements of the pseudo-left contend that all white people have an innate predisposition towards racism and oppression, the only logical conclusion is a path towards segregation and race war. In this they form a sort of symbiotic relationship with the far right; indeed, they feed off of each other. Khilanani’s assertion that it is “useless” to speak to white people about race—in other words, that there can be no possible reconciliation between whites and other races—would certainly be agreed upon by white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
While there is no doubt that racism exists—and is actively cultivated among certain backward layers, including among the police and the military—it exists as a particularly putrid expression of the domination of finance capital over the working class.
At a time when workers in the US and internationally are entering into enormous struggles against their exploiters, the class role of the pseudo-left—expressed in a particularly diseased form by the speaker at Yale—is to sabotage the unity of the working class by fomenting ethnic, gender and other arbitrary divisions, the ultimate aim of which is to safeguard capitalism.
Genuine socialists insist that bringing an end to all forms of oppression and exploitation requires a frontal assault by the working class upon the capitalist system. This in turn necessitates a ruthless struggle for the essential unity of the working class in the face of divisive provocations by agents of the class enemy.