‘Dilbert’ Cartoonist Scott Adams Gave Us A Master Class In White Grievance Manipulation

The cartoon creator continues to face backlash after a racist rant in which he claimed he wanted nothing to do with Black people and warned other white people to get away from them.
Scott Adams, creator of the "Dilbert" comic strip, shown here in 1998, took a survey's results and declared Black people to collectively be a "hate group."
Scott Adams, creator of the "Dilbert" comic strip, shown here in 1998, took a survey's results and declared Black people to collectively be a "hate group."
MICHAEL MACOR/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

First, I just want to say thank you to Scott Adams.

For years, many of us in the Black community and beyond have been trying to come up with the perfect name for male Karens. I once called them “Ken-tlemen,” but that doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, does it?

Then, as fate would have it, the comic strip writer with the comically racist chip on his shoulder came across a survey by a conservative group that most certainly had white men like him in mind for its target audience. And that survey showed that only 53% of Black people agreed that “it’s OK to be white.” And upon seeing this statistic, Adams threw the white-and-fragile hissy fit to end all white-and-fragile hissy fits, and now we know what to call male Karens.

We call them “Dilberts.”

There’s surprisingly a lot to unpack when it comes to the curious case of “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams and what appears to be the final anti-Black resentment straw that broke the Klan-ish camel’s back — and caused it to flush its career down the proverbial drain.

What I’m saying is, there’s just no way Adams wasn’t already racist before he discovered the survey published by right-wing anti-think tank Rasmussen Reports, which asked those surveyed if they agree that “it’s OK to be white,” and pretended it wasn’t a loaded, disingenuous “gotcha” question that intentionally ignores the history and social context of the statement.

You see, what we have here is a master class in white grievance manipulation. The fine folks at Rasmussen had to know the statement “It’s OK to be white” originated from white racists on a 4chan message board in 2017. The pollsters must know they weren’t presenting some original and uncontroversial inquiry that requires a simple “yes” or “no” answer.

Fun fact: In 2019, a student at Oklahoma City University School of Law was expelled for posting “IT’S OK TO BE WHITE” on social media. Was the university, which has a nearly 60% white student body, also racist against white people, or did the administrators simply understand the implications behind what the student posted?

The Rasmussen pollsters had to understand that the 26% of Black respondents who disagreed with “It’s OK to be white” were not advocating for the general nonexistence of white people — because that would be absurd. It’s obvious that they responded the way they did either because they’re aware of the statement’s origin, they’re aware of the intent behind it or they asked themselves the simpler and more straightforward question: In a country that is more than 60% white and where white people dominate every important entity in Western society — from the corporate world to state and federal governments to all aspects of the justice system — and are the only overwhelmingly represented racial group in popular culture, why would white people need to be told it’s OK to be white?

You wouldn’t tell a locker room full of NBA prospects, “It’s OK to be 7-foot-2.”

For the same reason a “Straight Pride Parade” misses the point of Pride in a heteronormative world and men’s rights activists in a patriarchal society will forever catch women’s side eye, telling a white person it’s OK to be white is socially redundant.

But let’s say I were to suspend everything I know about how power dynamics and social privilege work and acknowledge that the core issue some white people have is that they’re the only racial demographic one can belittle in media and on social media without the ghosts of “cancel culture” past, present and future paying them a visit. There’s still the issue of such a small number of dissenting Black respondents prompting Adams to declare that Black people are collectively a “hate group” that he wants “nothing to do with” nor should any other white people, who he suggested should “get the hell away from Black people” and stop trying to “help” us. (Yes, the white savior complex is strong in this one, and I don’t think that aspect of his diatribe gets talked about nearly enough.)

According to Rasmussen, a sample size of 1,000 people was used for the survey, only 117 of whom were Black. So, out of 117 Black people, roughly 30 (26%) disagreed with an obviously loaded question and 25 or so more (21%) were unsure because even if they were unaware of its origin — “Do you agree that it’s OK to be white?” is a really weird question to ask. So, basically, Adams is ready to re-segregate America because maybe 55 Black people failed to answer in the affirmative that being a Caucasian person is acceptable behavior.

Keep in mind that Adams defended his remarks by saying he was just trying to make the point that “everyone should be treated as an individual” — after declaring that all Black people should be shunned by white people based on a single survey in which the majority of Black respondents still, without question, agreed that it’s OK to be white.

“But you should also avoid any group that doesn’t respect you, even if there are people within the group who are fine,” Adams added.

Again, maybe he was already racist, and maybe this is a poll that is meant to strike at the hearts of white people who were already racist.

In fact, according to The Washington Post, the survey’s head pollster described the clearly controversial and complicated question as a “simple” and “uncontroversial” query, and, well, this is just the perfect time for me to point out that this survey was published under the headline, “Not ‘Woke’ Yet? Most Voters Reject Anti-White Beliefs.”

The survey also only asks two questions. The first you know because at this point I’ve typed the words out so many times I’m afraid I’m going to reflexively write “It’s OK to be white” when I sign my next bank deposit. The second talking point disguised as a survey question is, “Do you agree or disagree with this statement: “Black people can be racist, too.”

So, once again, white conservatives have appropriated the word “woke,” a word derived from the Black vernacular, and weaponized it against Black folks in order to make the stale point that we’re the real racists.

And all of this reminds me that I wouldn’t find Adams’ story all that interesting if not for the fact that Republican legislators and government officials across the country are simultaneously weaponizing and demonizing the word “woke,” propagandizing critical race theory and whitewashing Black history and social studies to make it more palatable for white consumption.

And it’s the Scott Adamses of the world who empower them to do so.

I mean, seriously what a Dilbert!

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