How I Saw the Light About Race (Part VII)
I worked the majority of my career at an inner-city high school where minorities made up of more than 90 percent of the student body, and even high school seniors struggled with fourth-grade reading and math. The school system insisted that everything but race was the cause for this high level of underachievement. For years, I believed it.
At one point, we were told that black students underachieved because we had low expectations for them, so we sat through workshops that blamed us for our students’ failures and demanded that we raise our expectations. A few teachers pointed out that while having high expectations was nice in theory, actually placing higher academic demands on low-ability students who were already overwhelmed by the dumbed-down curriculum would only lead to more failure. The administration’s response was to punish these outspoken teachers by subjecting them to harassment under the guise of “mentoring.”
After years of working with these students, observing their work, and watching one school program after another fail, I lost all faith in the liberal explanations (slavery, white privilege, poverty, and so on) for black student underachievement. I searched the Internet for an honest discussion of racial issues. I found it on sites like American Renaissance.
It was 1957. I was five years old. My mother brought me into town to buy school clothes. There were a lot of blacks there. After observing them for no more than 40 minutes, I became a race realist.
I became a race realist. . .
- When I started to realize how much so many of them despise us.
- When I started to realize that when they are congregated in large numbers, they make the area uninhabitable to whites.
- When I started to realize they’d suck us dry if we let them.
I don’t know when I became racially conscious. I think I was born that way.
We lived in a very working class area in South London. My mum was a housewife, and my dad worked for his brother in the grocery business. We were reared with working class pride, I suppose. If you didn’t work, you didn’t get anywhere.
My mum took pride in the house and her children, and we stayed with our own kind, which was an easy thing to do back then.
I had a black friend at primary school named Rita, whom I liked. She was audacious and very loud, qualities I found appealing. Rita’s parents worked very hard for their family, and I respected that. My father would escort us children, including Rita and me, to the local Baptist church every Sunday. Looking back, I suspect we must have resembled a trail of children out of The Little Rascals.
However, I never regarded Rita as being the same as I. I was fascinated by the unknown but I never wanted to be like it. When I grew up, I took a different path from Rita’s. I encountered her again at a local hospital when I was 18. By that time, I was on my way to college, and Rita was the mother of two illegitimate children. The differences between us were marked, and I think we both felt it.
There was one specific experience that had a profound effect on me when I was growing up. When I was about 16, I went to a disco that used strobe lighting. While I was dancing, I felt something on my arm. Looking down, I saw that an enormous black hand had almost covered my forearm. The strobe lighting accentuated the differences in skin color, and I found the differences horrific. Looking up, I heard a creature resembling a gorilla asking me to dance with him. I recoiled, replied with a very affirmative “No!” and walked off the dance floor.
Until that night, I had never had to think much about my race before. Afterwards, I knew with absolute certainty that I could never mix.
On the campus of SMU in the late 1960s, I was one of the student organizers fighting for the integration of the university. I wrote fliers probably read by thousands of students extolling the idea of “compensatory” treatment for blacks who had been “denied the environment” that would allow them to demonstrate their equality. After graduation, I went to work for the New York City Board of Education. I was as naive as a person could be.
Working in an all-black secondary school quickly taught me a great deal about reality. I can tell anecdotal stories deep into the night. But what finally opened my eyes irreversibly was the verdict of the O.J. Simpson trial. The night before the verdict was announced, I said to my wife over dinner, “There is still a basic decency in the hearts of black people. They can’t and won’t find him not guilty.” The next day, about an hour after I heard the crushing news that he had been found innocent, I went to the time clock to punch out. There I saw many of my black colleagues—people I thought of as friends, people I trusted—jumping up and down with glee, celebrating as if they had hit the jackpot in the lottery. I realized then just how deep the hatred for white people ran. As we tried as a society in every way possible to open our arms to them, they grew to despise us more and more. Are there exceptions? Yes, but very few. We look at them as different. They look at us with hatred.