First, an accusation of racism is made. It goes without saying that it is accurate – how could it not be, when virtually every institution and norm in modern America is an instrument of white supremacy?
At this point, a lot of people merely yield or acquiesce to the will of their accuser out of misplaced guilt or fear of the reputational harm that comes with being branded a racist. If you are foolhardy enough to raise questions of the accuser about the veracity of the complaint, or are merely confused about what’s being alleged, a discussion will not ensue. There will be variations of the same theme: “I AM TIRED. AND EXHAUSTED trying to explain your white privilege to you. DO THE WORK.”
What does “do the work” even mean? Well, if you want to go down the academic rabbit-hole from which this emerged, in neo-Marxian critical theory argot the term of art is “praxis.”
In his late-phase Marxism, Jean Paul Sartre defined “praxis” as the transformation of the world in accordance with a specific ideological end. So when you’re told “do the work,” leftists don’t mean any kind of personal development that would allow for unique circumstances, individual understanding, and personal agency. They have a very specific program in mind for you to follow.