Honest question: Is there anything you can’t say about white people?

A lecture at Yale University claims white people are psychopaths and demented, violent predators, fantasizes about shooting them in the head, and concludes that no good white people exist on the planet.  Yes, that Yale University.  It gets better:  The speaker also believes white people don’t eat bread.  What could possibly explain this madness?

“This is the cost of talking to white people at all. The cost of your own life, as they suck you dry. There are no good apples out there. White people make my blood boil.”  “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.”  “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.”  “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.”

You might be forgiven for thinking these are the ravings of some demented blue-check on Twitter, or perhaps someone with a “The End is Near” sign around their neck, screaming at the world from a lonely corner of Manhattan.  Free speech is free speech, and people can say what they want, but most sane people would agree fantasizing about shooting white people in the head for the crime of being white and claiming all white people are rotten shouldn’t be part of the dialogue in polite society, right? Further, this sort of vile, racist, nonsensical bilge couldn’t possibly be sanctioned by one of the world’s leading academic institutions, delivered as part of a continuing education program of all things, could it? 

Unfortunately, yes.  These mad ravings were part of a lecture at Yale University on the “The Psychopathic Problem of the White Mind.”  (You can watch it for yourself, here.) The lecture was presented as part of a Continuing Medical Education Program by the Yale School of Medicine’s Department of Child Study Center on April 6, 2021.  Incredibly, the program fulfilled a licensure requirement for American Medical Association Continuing Education Credits, required by law for physicians in the state of Connecticut, meaning this insanity was considered an official educational activity for medical professionals.  The target audience was “Trainees in child psychiatry, psychology, and social work, faculty, clinicians, scientists.”  The learning objectives were to “Set up white people’s absence of empathy towards black rage as a problem,” to “Understand how racism is part of the mind that white mind that arose during colonialism with a series of lies around violence,” and to “Understand how white people are psychologically dependent on black rage.”

There was even a “Needs Assessment,” “Everyone is talking about race right now.   Especially white people.  And yet, white people seem to be losing it.  The number of Karen and ‘It’s my right to not wear a mask’ videos are exploding.  How do we understand this psychologically?”  The lecture was delivered by Dr. Aruna Khilanani, a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical School.  Dr. Khilanani also received a Master of Arts in Humanities from the same institution.  She did her residency at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell and a fellowship at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, then completed an adult psychoanalysis  program at Columbia University where she served on the Progression Committee, Curriculum Committee, and Diversity Committee.  She is board certified in forensic psychiatry and board eligible in addiction medicine.  In short, she is well-credentialed, what the media would refer to as an expert.

Dr. Khilanani is also apparently a working psychiatrist, as in actually treating patients.  I say apparently because there’s a website for her practice, arunakhilanani.com, but the details are tough to decipher.  For example, the section “My Steez,” which I take for the equivalent of “About Me,” says, “What up.  It’s early.  Before the sun hits.  We got tunes.  Check.  We got food.  Check.  Coffee.  Check.  What do you want to road trip with?  As a dancer and a musician, I live in my body and ride the beat.  Night rides.  Day break meandering.  Solitude.  Chaos.  The unknown…When you hit the streets.  Drop.  Bumps.  Breaks.  I ride the beat.  My Steez is about personal freedom, recognition, and desire.  Only when you bump up against other worlds and people, can you begin to know yourself, And desire can come alive.  Recognition.  The desire of knowing and being known.  As you are…Seeing and being seen, as you are.  Hearing and being heard, as you are.  Blackness.  Blueness.  Whiteness.  Graffiti paint.  Mountains.  Glaciers.  Sun.  Air.  Breath.  I will see the shape of you, and hear your voice as you find your beat.  An act of desire.  An act of love.  Are you down?”

If you think that’s a little odd for a physician’s website, her interview after the lecture is even stranger.  Dr. Khilanani believes that white people no longer eat bread because of white guilt or something.  When asked about the distinction between “whiteness” and “white people,” she launched into a rambling reply that included, “White people have an intense level of guilt. I have never seen a level of guilt that I see among white people. I mean, white people don’t eat bread. Think about that. There have been wars all over the world over grains and bread and only here, white people are depriving themselves. Think about that shit. Everyone has this gluten allergy and you’re like, what the fuck is a gluten allergy? That’s a psychosomatic symptom. If you actually talk to a GI doctor, they’re going to say, ‘Well, there’s Celiac and there’s everything else’ with a wink, and you know what the ‘everything else’ is. It’s all the guilty gluten people.”

When asked if it was “white guilt”, she replied, “On an emotional level, absolutely. Like, if I raise an eyebrow at a white person around bread, the first response is like, ‘It’s real.’ What does that mean? They mean it’s not psychological.”  The interviewer was obviously a tad confused, replying “Right.  It’s a medical issue, not a mental one.”  Dr. Khilanani continued, “I don’t deny that people may get symptoms, but how is it that all these people suddenly now, after all the violence has occurred, are not eating bread. It’s like the weirdest fucking thing.”  The interviewer remained confused, “But what does bread have to do with violence?  What’s the connection there?”  Dr. Khilanani concluded, “I think the bread is about guilt and needing to keep them in a state of deprivation to stay guilty.”

To say these views are outside the mainstream doesn’t quite capture the insanity.  It’s stunning to me that a highly educated and credentialled woman, one obviously gifted with more brains than the average person, could believe there is some nefarious connection between white people and bread, or come to the conclusion that there is something fundamentally wrong with the white mind, and believe that conclusion is worth an educational presentation.  It’s even more stunning that someone would invite such a woman to present such a thing, to doctors and other medical professionals no less.  This wasn’t something a lunatic pitched to the Dean as they were passing down the street, or an email submission that ended in the delete folder.  Someone saw this pitch, and thought it would make an excellent lecture.

Two further questions come to mind:  First, Yale University couldn’t find a more credible lecturer and topic for their continuing education program?  Second, is there anything at all you can’t say about white people these days?

Yale University is one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the known universe, but this is the best they can do, a kooky-at-best speaker and a ridiculously racist, helpful-to-no-one topic?  We’re only at the tail end of a once-in-a-century global pandemic with life and death implications for the healthcare community.  It’s not as if there aren’t pressing healthcare issues for children such as CDC guidance still requiring attendees as young as five or six to wear masks at summer camp, or that some school districts are still hedging about reopening in the fall, or that the past year is likely to have a major impact on children’s health potentially for the rest of their lives.  Instead of covering these and related topics, however, they chose to educate us all about how white people are essentially psychopaths.

This segways nicely into the other question:  Is there anything that can’t be said about white people?  If Yale University presented a rant containing such gems as “they suck you dry,” having a “bounce in your step” and doing the world a “fucking favor” if you shoot a white person, and claiming white people are “out of their minds” and “demented, violent” predators, what can’t you say?  It goes without saying that if this same content referenced any other racial group in the title, it would never have been produced and, should something along these lines have even bubbled up from the sewers of the internet, it would be roundly condemned, but since the subject is white people, it’s presented at Yale, apparently.

How precisely is this supposed to work?  There used to be a phrase, reverse-racism, that was used to refer to racism directed at white people.  The phrase has fallen out of favor because our intelligentsia claims that disadvantaged groups have certain privileged perspectives and that righting historical wrongs takes precedence over other concerns.  While I’m not certain I agree with that line of thinking, I’m willing to accept that such a standard could apply to affirmative action programs, minority recruiting, and other related issues where the goal is to ensure a fairer representation of races in American life.  Again, I don’t necessarily endorse the idea myself, but I can see some logic behind it:  If a white student is denied entry to Yale because a black student was accepted instead, it’s fair because the same thing has happened countless times before to black people and black people are still underrepresented at Yale.

I may disagree, but that makes some kind of sense at least.  Calling white people psychopaths and fantasizing about killing them, however, is not that.  It’s naked, unadulterated racism, the rant of a KKK Grand Dragon from a hundred years ago, recycled for a different audience today.  In some sense, it’s an analogous phenomenon.  If black people were going to be enslaved and segregated, they needed to be branded inferior; their supposed inferiority justified the treatment.  Today, if white people are going to be violent, oppressive supremacists, they need to be psychopaths, one belief will necessarily lead to the other.  Note the spooky inheritance idea inherent in the learning objectives, the “white mind” was shaped during colonialism, as if my mind today bears the scars.

It’s worth bearing in mind that our culture has become so sensitive to the possibility of racism against black people that even words that sound similar to slurs cause controversy.  For example, George Patton was recently dismissed from a class at the University of Southern California for mentioning a Mandarin phrase, “nèi ge, nèi ge,” that happens to sound like the n-word.  The class was on communication in global markets, meaning understanding Mandarin phrases is pretty much a requirement, but Mr. Patton was accused of committing “violence” against students of color.  How does believing similar sounds are violent square with promoting actual violence, the sole difference being the race it’s directed at?

I’m long past believing some level of fairness and objectivity might enter into any racial debate. I understand that many believe we are all racists now, but Dr. Khilanani’s screed goes so far in such a high echelon, it really prompts the question of where we go from here. Can Harvard University host a lecture recommending containment camps for white people because they are all psychopaths, a grand One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, except without The Chief of course?  I’m asking honestly, because it sure seems like they could…

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