Tom Mayer, Colorado Daily News (Boulder), December 3, 2005
[Note from the editor: American Renaissance posted Prof. Mayer’s letter on white privilege last week. The hostile commentary Prof. Mayer alludes to in this new letter are the comments on that post. See the comments here.]
My letter on life expectancy and white privilege (Colorado Daily, Tuesday Nov. 29) apparently struck a live nerve.
In that essay I said that about three years of the difference between the life expectancies of blacks and whites in the United States could be attributed to the stress of living in a racist society. Two days later I was astonished to receive an e-mail from one man containing no less than twelve single spaced pages of hostile commentary by thirty different critics on my white privilege letter.
These commentaries contained some valid criticisms of the highly compressed argument given in my brief letter. Far more striking, however, was the extreme vitriol expressed by virtually every critic towards black people, the discipline of sociology, colleges and universities, liberal intellectuals, and me personally. It is useful to review some of these vitriolic comments. They illuminate the undertow of racist hostility that still infects American culture and undermines efforts to make the University of Colorado more racially diverse. In a backhanded way, these embittered remarks validate the salience of the white privilege concept.
The e-mail starts in the following way: “You sound as if you do not have the education to think for yourself correctly rather than instruct college students . . . You should resign! Why don’t you go to teach at Howard University [a historically black university], they would love to listen to your white guilt trip nonsense . . . And it was because of our white Founding Fathers that Mr. Mayer is free to speak his nonsense.”
Another writer refers to me as “you disgusting little fraud.” Somebody identified as Zorba the Greek says: “Anti-racism, typified by this fascist masquerading as a professor, must be furiously fought and suppressed by any means necessary.” “Mike B.” writes: “Colleges/Universities are ALL totalitarian islands that would make North Korea, North Vietnam, Cuba, etc. very proud.”
Here are a few of the venomous anti-black remarks contained in the e-mail. These statements are typical. [Referring to the three years of additional life associated with white privilege] “Not bad considering we whites spend it in continued support of the parasites that reside here with us in the good old USA.” [Referring to my claim that college educated black women are more vulnerable to certain diseases than college educated white women] “Could it be that these college educated black women really did not have the smarts to really get a college degree.”
Another man writes: “Of course blacks don’t live as long as whites … could it be because they take drugs, drink like fish, procreate with anything that can locomote, engage in gang warfare, have no family life, eat like pigs (did you see the size of some of those people in the Superdome?)”
According to “Tom”: “In Zimbabwe or South Africa…the only reason Whites still survive against all odds is because they are smarter and much more innovative … All non-whites should return immediately to the country of … their ancestors, where they will not be a minority for the sakes of their own health and mine.”
Interpretations of higher black mortality rates include the following: “It is glamorized for black men to be gangstas’, drug dealers, and involved in illegal behavior.” “Most black women are obese due to overeating. Many blacks live on welfare and get food stamps, that makes them overeat the free food.” “Genetic inferiority is never mentioned simply because it is not PC.”
Sociology as a discipline that has documented the pernicious effects of racism in American society evokes fierce antagonism. “Sociologists like to pretend they are scientists, but they are really just liberal antiWhite ideologues.” Self hate hath no better home than the university sociology department.” “Sociology is junk science little more than bogus left-wing theory masquerading as legitimate academic inquiry.” “Students who refuse to regurgitate the party line are undoubtedly punished with low grades.”
I could easily multiply these examples, but the content and tone of this communication should be completely obvious. It is tempting to dismiss it as the work of extremist kooks or perhaps even as an outlandish prank. This would be a serious mistake. While it is difficult to determine exactly how widespread these views may be, they are common enough to make an overwhelmingly white campus stressful and dangerous territory for people who are not white. They are common enough to make non-white students and scholars look elsewhere for an academic home. These pockets of hostility towards African-Americans and their allies generate yet another dimension of what I call white privilege.
Department of Sociology
University of Colorado, Boulder