by James A. Bacon
There’s big money in telling White people how racist they are. Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo have made millions of dollars doing it. Now Saira Rao, an Indian-American Richmond resident, has figured out how to cash in on the action.
Rao has written a book with Colorado co-author Regina Jackson, “White Women: Everything You Already Know About Your Own Racism and How to Do Better,” that berates White feminists. The title has been picked up by big-time publisher Penguin Random House. Peter Galuszka interviewed Rao for a friendly piece in Style Weekly.
While the book is sure to rake in royalties, the author’s shtick generates loads of ancillary revenue. In a program called “Race2Dinner” Rao and Jackson direct two-hour cocktail-and-dinner sessions in which six to eight White women confront their racism. Based on one of those dinner conversations, Director Patty Ivins Specht produced a documentary, “Deconstructing Karen,” which highlights “the unwitting ways” in which White women uphold “everyday white supremacy.” A ticket to a Race2Lunch event in Toronto this summer set back attendees $495 each; a Race2Dinner event in Denver cost $625.
Rao takes no prisoners. As she and Jackson write in the book, “Privilege is power. By ignoring your white privilege, you ignore your white power. When you ignore your white power, you uphold white supremacy. This is white feminism. White feminism. Is. White Supremacy.”
Right-wing media such as Fox News and the New York Post were quick to put down the documentary, Galuszka wrotes. Fox commentator Jesse Watters described the movie this way: “It’s about two American race hucksters named Regina Jackson and Saira Rao who charge self-hating white women thousands of dollars for the privilege of being called a racist over dinner.”
Rao spoke vaguely to Galuszka about her personal experiences as a person of color. “Speak about race and see what happens,” she said. She and Jackson have been inundated by negative comments on social media, she added. After she ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2018 against an establishment member of the Democratic Party, according to her Wikipedia biography, she received threats that made her move her family out of Colorado.
Was Rao the victim of racism… or of a worldview, perhaps honed in the universities she attended and the “progressive” circles she moves in, that views every unpleasant encounter through the prism of race?
Her parents emigrated from India, and she was born and raised in Richmond. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.A. degree and from New York University with a law degree. Indian CEOs have been spectacularly successful in business, especially the remunerative tech sector. Ethnic Indians run Alphabet (parent of Google), Microsoft, IBM, Micron, Adobe, and until a couple of days ago, Twitter, among others. The household income of Indian families in the U.S. averages $120,000, which surpasses that of all other U.S. ethnic groups, including White Americans, according to The Economic Times.
A working-class White person living in, say, Grundy or Mechanicsville might understandably think that Rao enjoys a privileged position in society.
One might speculate that the origin of Rao’s antipathy toward White feminists began with her clerkship for Third Circuit Court Judge Dolores Sloviter, who was renowned for her advocacy of equal treatment for women. The protagonist of Rao’s 2007 novel, Chambermaid, is Sheila Raj, a law clerk working for Third Circuit Judge Helga Friedman. According to Wikipedia, the novel describes Friedman as a “sociopathic, homicidal, bipolar jurist” and a “toxic bitch.”
“White feminists,” Rao has written, are “the most powerful subset of liberal white supremacy,” and they scare her more than all other enemies combined. In an article framed as a letter to white American women generally, she called White women “pawns of the patriarchy, diligent foot soldiers of white supremacy” and accused them of xenophobia, hate and violence. American schools, she has written “are white supremacy factories. White supremacy is behind all violence,” she has said. “Whiteness is literally killing us all.”
White feminists may or may not be racist — the White feminists I know certainly are not — but there’s no doubting the privileged position in society of anyone who can fork out $500 to subject themselves to that kind of invective over cocktails and dinner.