Would you willingly spend good money to be informed about your unconscious bias? If your answer is yes, you’re in luck. According to The Guardian, there is now a fledgling industry growing around the concept of white, middle class women gathering for dinner parties where the aim is to be educated, over a glass of chablis, on their inherent prejudices.
It has taken off in America — of course it has taken off in America — where, for the sum of $2,500 a time, you can sit wth a group of other white women, as the two founders of Race to Dinner who are Indian American and black, explain to you why your thoughts and behaviour are racist.
The attendees mostly vote Democrat, and hold down high powered jobs. No one has persuaded them to attend. On the contrary, there is stiff competition for a seat at the table.
What is driving this phenomenon? It seems a sense of guilt. These are successful, educated women, many of whom contribute vast sums of time, money and effort, to progressive causes. But despite all this, they still feel they have not gone far enough. In fact, in this upside down world of new social mores, acknowledging themselves as racists is seen as the ultimate modern virtue.
If you were to draw comparisons, you’d have to say it sounds an awful lot like the concept of confession in the Roman Catholic Church. These women unload examples of their unconscious biases and racism onto an authority figure, and that figure – in between the starter and the main course – absolves them of their sins. This isn’t a purely spiritual transaction, though: redemption must be purchased, at prices only the wealthy can afford.
All over the West, we are increasingly seeing white, middle class and decidedly left-leaning individuals indulging in this kind of behaviour. One wonders whether the rise of Trump, and the people who put him in the White House, might not be the reason for this self-flagellation. As one attendee tells The Guardian: “There are so many people worse than us. I don’t talk about the 53 per cent [who voted for Trump] because I’m not one of them.”
Whilst everything was nice and liberal, this cohort of women were able to believe that the world was essentially well. They had done the right thing, putting the likes of nice Mr Obama and, before him, Bill Clinton in office. Sure, there was inequality, but that wasn’t directly their issue.
Now, though, the world is at odds, and, deep down, they suspect that this is their fault, too. They look at the legions of ‘deplorables’ with whom they share the same skin colour and they feel a profound sense of guilt. The white trash culture they strove so hard to distance themselves from is now in the ascendency — brash, crass and very much in power.
So, they seek forgiveness for what they fear they and their ‘kind’ have created by attempting to distinguish themselves from the unenlightened masses. And who knows what will be the next topic of conversational flagellation? The climate? Transphobia?
All I know is, if you have a grievance, now might be an excellent opportunity to cash in. Tout yourself out for a few hundred an hour to tell the yummy mummies of Islington that they’re all dreadful parents for giving their kids gendered names. You’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.