Jared Taylor, American Renaissance, September 2006
What do blacks think about race? How do they experience race? How are they expected to think about and experience race? The contrast with whites in this respect could not be greater. For whites, race is not a permissible criterion either for personal decisions or public policy. Whites have no legitimate aspirations as a group, and do not usually think of themselves as a group unless they are called upon to apologize for past and present sins.
For most blacks, on the other hand, race is a central part of their identity. Their view of politics, history, government, or culture is intimately bound up in a racial consciousness that sets them apart from other groups. They take it for granted, for example, that the job of a black leader is to work for the benefit of blacks, without much regard for others.
They have, in other words, a deeply-rooted racial consciousness that can even express itself as alienation from the United States itself. For many whites, who have for the last 50 years generally tried very hard to banish race from their decision-making, the depth and power of black racial consciousness is difficult even to imagine, and when they encounter it in its full force they find it deeply disturbing.
As we will see, racial loyalty is so essential to blacks that they despise blacks who do not practice it sufficiently — who are not “black enough.” For whites, America’s primary moral mission is to overcome race, to go beyond group consciousness and embrace all citizens as individuals. Particularly for teachers, clergy, social workers, politicians, and even many corporate executives, to move beyond race is America’s great calling. Not for blacks. For a black to speak or act in ways that are obligatory for whites is to commit racial suicide. It is to court contempt and expulsion.
A Different World
Although they are not direct indicators of black racial consciousness, larger social indices suggest the extent to which blacks and whites live in separate worlds. To start with the seemingly innocuous, census records show that 100 years ago, the 20 most popular given names for blacks and whites were virtually the same. That began to change in the 1960s, when blacks started giving their children distinctly black names like Shaneequa, Latonya, or DeShawn. An investigation of every birth in California since 1961 found that in 1970, the typical black baby girl was given a name that was twice as common among blacks than whites. By 1980, her name was 20 times more common among blacks, and by 2004 more than 40 percent of black girls born in California got a name that was not given to a single one of the 100,000 white girls born that year. The racial gap was not limited to the West Coast. By 2003, there was no overlap among the top 20 black and white names given to girls in New York City. The gap in names for boys was not so great, because neither whites nor blacks are as adventurous with boys’ names, but there has been sharp divergence since the 1960s.
Another cleavage is in television viewing. Ever since 1987, none of the top ten programs blacks watch has been among the top ten that whites watch. Blacks watch programs with black actors about blacks; whites watch white programs.
Blacks do not have the same politics as whites. The Bay Area Center for Voting Research surveyed voting patterns for 237 American cities and found that race is a proxy for a city’s politics: Black voters are liberal and white voters are conservative. As the center’s director explained: “Detroit and Provo epitomize America’s political, economic and racial polarization. As the most conservative city in America, Provo is overwhelmingly white and solidly middle class. This is in stark contrast to Detroit, which is impoverished, black and the most liberal.” He went on to note that, “While most black voters have consistently supported Democrats since the 1960s, it is the white liberals that have slowly withered away over the decades, leaving African Americans as the sole standard bearers for the left.”
These differences lead to clear divisions on concrete political choices. No fewer than 74 percent of blacks believe that it is the government’s responsibility to “assure the availability of jobs,” whereas only 33 percent of whites think this. In 1996, 84 percent of blacks but only 43 percent of whites voted for Bill Clinton.
Many whites find some black opinions startling. Only 13 percent of blacks think O.J. Simpson was “probably guilty” of killing his wife, but 73 percent believe it is true that “the CIA has imported cocaine for distribution in the black community.” Sixty-two percent “believe that HIV and AIDS are being used as part of a plot to deliberately kill African Americans.” When solid majorities of blacks think the government is trying to hook them on cocaine and kill them with AIDS, we have moved well beyond different choices in children’s names and divergent television habits. Blacks and whites often do not see the world in the same way. These differences are clearly bound up somehow in race itself.
Not Black Enough
In 1998, Anthony Williams was elected mayor of Washington, DC. Mr. Williams had attended Harvard and Yale, was clearly interested in running an efficient city government, and had considerable white support. Although he is a black man who has never pretended to be anything else, Mr. Williams left many blacks wondering if he was “black enough.” Perhaps this was unavoidable for any black politician who followed the crack-smoking, skirt-chasing Marion Barry — there was never any doubt as to his bona fides — but a black writer for the Washington Post raised “the question of whether whites, assuming they care one way or the other, even understand the concept of ‘How black is a black person?’” He went on to say that Mayor Williams had quickly fired incompetents, but that “the firings hurt black workers most of all, creating the impression — fairly or unfairly — that he has little or no special concern for people who look like him.” A black politician who is more concerned about efficiency than about jobs for blacks may not be black enough. The writer concluded:
Blackness . . . is a state of common spiritual idealism that serves to unite the group for the purpose of survival. Putting it another way that’s less of a mouthful, there is not one person of color who can separate himself or herself from the rest of the people of color.
Because Mayor Williams was bound to all other blacks “for the purpose of survival,” loosening those bonds cast doubt on his blackness.
At about the same time, another black writer for the Post mourned his loss of that rolling, characteristically black gait known as “the pimp walk.” As a young man he felt authentically black — ”Whether the pimp walk was some celebration of male blackness I don’t know, but I do know that walking so rhythmically, I never felt so good, or so black” — but at some point he started walking normally. This was cause for soul-searching:
“Oh, I attend a mostly black church. I have a black wife. Black kids. And as a journalist, I write mostly about black people. My mama is black. My car is black. I buy black. I vote black. I think black. Still, I can’t help but wonder if I wasn’t once blacker.”
It is not enough to think, buy, and vote black. True blackness may require a certain walk.
Randall Robinson, whose early career was devoted to fighting South African apartheid and who later tried to promote reparations for blacks, reports matter-of-factly, “I am obsessively black . . . race is an overarching aspect of my identity.” Kweisi Mfume, former president of the NAACP, told the group’s 1998 national convention that “Race and skin color . . . still dominate every aspect of American life, at home and abroad.” Ron Daniels, a columnist for the black paper, The St. Louis American, wrote: “Whatever my political or economic pursuits in life, however, I am always guided by the dictum to be ‘of the race and for the race.’ While being open to building working political relationships with others, these relationships must always be with African people.”
Part of authentic blackness requires an explicit rejection of white norms. James Bernard is a graduate of Harvard Law School and has been a consultant to the Rockefeller Foundation. Instead of practicing law, he decided to start a glossy, hip-hop magazine called The Source. His reasons? “Either you identify with white society, and that’s disgustingly empty — not to mention you’ll be rejected and go insane — or you look for something that’s rich and real.”
Like the question of what it means to be not black enough, authentic black culture is beyond the grasp of whites. August Wilson, who died in 2005, was the most successful black playwright in America, winning two Pulitzer prizes and many other awards. Although these awards were from nominally white organizations, he insisted that whites should not direct or act in his plays. Whites were from a different culture.
Needless to say, there are many blacks, both prominent and unknown, who do not take so separatist a cultural stance, but even for them, blackness can become a refuge in trying times. Singer Michael Jackson was once a symbol of racelessness and even sexlessness, but when he went on trial for child sex abuse in 2005, he surrounded himself with bodyguards and advisors from the Nation of Islam. One writer pointed out that “the racially ambivalent wonder” who once sang, “It don’t matter if you’re black or white,” had “now become the supreme black man.”
It is not just individuals who may not be black enough. The same standards apply in larger contexts. Most whites do not realize that many blacks have given up on integration. Blacks are incensed if they are kept out of white institutions or neighborhoods, but many view integration only as a tool for specific purposes and not as an end itself. If they can reach economic or political goals through exclusively black means, that is preferable.
Roy Brooks, who teaches at the University of San Diego Law School, makes this case in Integration or Separation? which was published by Harvard University Press. “There is nothing intrinsically good about racial mixing,” he writes. “Its appeal comes from its social utility.” He continues: “African Americans need to spend less time trying to live next to whites and employ more energy striving to live together.” One reason for this is that “[c]learly the homogeneous community rather than the larger white society is the environment in which the personal self-esteem of African Americans develops positively.” In his view, integration is an endlessly wearying struggle for blacks because they must deal with whites who can never be made to understand black reality: “[M]any African American students believe it is futile to attempt to educate white people, and they do not see the races ever living together in harmony.”
He proposes what he calls “limited separation.” Blacks must always have the right to live in the white man’s world if they want, but they should have their own schools, neighborhoods, workplaces, churches, and amusements, so that they can live completely apart from whites if that is their choice. Working-class blacks, he explains, will almost certainly choose separation.
Even a few whites echo the black demand for separation. Political scientist Andrew Hacker explains that it stems essentially from white intransigence:
“Calls are increasingly heard for a system that makes the best of separation. Integration has not worked, largely because whites never believed in it, except on the most token levels. It also requires that blacks abandon much of their culture, whether in embracing white mental styles, including diction and demeanor.”
Derrick Bell, who teaches at New York University Law School, argues that the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education was a mistake. He wishes the court had maintained “separate but equal,” but had required that black institutions be made genuinely equal.
Schools with largely black student bodies are beginning to be run on this principle. In Kansas City, 70 percent of the school children are black and only 15 percent are white. Separatists find they have black schools without even having to exclude children of other races, and they have turned some into centers of black consciousness. J. S. Chick Elementary School, for example, has been “African-centered” since 1991, which means every part of the curriculum is based on the history and culture of blacks. Every Monday morning, the entire school participates in harambee, a Swahili word for “coming together.” Students beat drums while others dance and chant. The school considers itself an African village, and parents must sign statements of commitment to its principles. Chick is a magnet school and theoretically open to anyone, but 99 percent of its 300 students are black.
In 1995, a judge overseeing a Kansas City desegregation case approved a similar African-centered theme for the Sanford B. Ladd elementary school, and a middle school has since adopted a similar curriculum. Supporters claim that an explicitly black curriculum improves grades and reduces absenteeism and other problems.
Hales Franciscan School, an all-black Catholic high school, has not adopted an entirely African curriculum but expresses its identity in a different way. Before basketball games, the school sings “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” written by James Weldon Johnson and considered the unofficial black national anthem. “That song was one of the first things I learned as a child,” explained senior Nate Minnoy. “We’re an all-black school, and that song is important to us, to our culture.” Before at least one home game, the school sang the black national anthem but forgot “The Star Spangled Banner.” Hanging in the gymnasium are both the American flag and the red, black and green flag of Marcus Garvey’s back-to-Africa movement.
Oklahoma City’s Millwod public school district has two pledges of allegiance, the familiar one to the American flag, and one to Garvey’s flag. The latter pledge, written by the founder of Kwanzaa, Maulena Ron Karenga, goes like this:
We pledge allegiance to the red, black and green
Our flag, the symbol of our eternal struggle, and to the land we must obtain
One nation of Black people, with one God for us all
Totally united in the struggle for Black Love, Black Freedom, and Black Determination
Gloria Griffin, who is superintendent of the 99-percent black school district, does not think the pledge is separatist. I focus on the words “united in love, freedom, and determination.” she explained.
Schools of this kind are practicing Prof. Brooks’s plan for “limited separation.” In fact, “limited separation” approximates the racial accommodation the majority of blacks have made: they have access to the white world when they need it, but frequently retreat to the comfort of blackness.
It is a cliché to point out that there are hundreds of organizations for blacks but essentially none explicitly for whites. The Congressional Black Caucus is probably the best known black organization, but a recent Internet search on the words “association of black . . .” turned up more than 3,800 pages of results. On just the first three pages were explicitly black associations for the following groups, in the following order:
Accountants, MBAs, Engineers, Nurses, Journalists, Social Workers, Telecommunications Professionals, New York Journalists, Women Historians, Women Lawyers of New Jersey, Professional Fire Fighters, California Lawyers, Dallas-Fort Worth Communicators, Sociologists, Storytellers, School Educators, Scuba Divers, Journalists, Anthropologists, Actuaries, Philadelphia Journalists, Interpreters (of sign language), Yoga Teachers, Foundation Executives, Law Enforcers, Southern Region Accountants, and Psychologists.
There is probably an exclusively black association for every profession, and members can join the white/integrated association for their profession if they want. This is an almost perfect example of Prof. Brooks’s “limited separation:” blacks have the benefits of all-black institutions, integrated institutions, or both, as they wish.
If there were any doubts about what is meant by the word “black” in the names of these organizations, Thomas Murphy, a white man on the Chicago city council removed all ambiguity. To the consternation of black politicians, for two terms during the 1990s Mr. Murphy represented the majority-black 18th ward. Blacks expected to get the seat back when redistricting gave it an 85 percent black “super-majority.” However, in 1999, Mr. Murphy won 57 percent of the vote in a nine-candidate race, and stayed on the city council.
He then asked to join the black caucus, but the black members refused. “I don’t think Alderman Murphy can look out of the same eyes we do as African-Americans,” said Alderman Carrie Austin. Mr. Murphy pointed out that he represents more blacks — 47,000 — than some of the blacks on the caucus who won’t let him in. “The purpose of the caucus is to represent the interests of black residents of the city,” he said. “Apparently they think it’s some other purpose — their own personal interests.”
One black alderwoman Dorothy Tillman, didn’t want Mr. Murphy on the city council at all, much less in the black caucus. “We want that seat to belong to an African-American,” she said. “We want to make sure to take that seat.” (No one questions whether Miss Tillman, a major booster of reparations, is “black enough.” For a 2000 fund-raising event at the up-scale Chicago hotel, the Palmer House, one of her staff asked the management to make sure all the waiters were black. The hotel asked a white, an Arab, and a Hispanic to serve at a different function that night.)
The National Association of Black Social Workers also recently reaffirmed its impregnable blackness. Brian Parnell is a child protective services social worker in Bakersfield, California. He wanted to know why so many black children are in the child welfare system, and thought he might find answers at the National Association of Black Social Workers annual convention, which took place in New Orleans in 2005. Mr. Parnell flew to New Orleans, but was barred at the door because he is white. He managed to get hold of a conference organizer, a black woman, who told him, “You’re white. You can’t attend this conference.” Five black colleagues who arrived with Mr. Parnell attended the conference but he had to fly home.
Excluding whites (and other non-blacks), and building and maintaining black majorities are typical expressions of black consciousness. Many blacks are brazen about it. In 2003, Eddie Jordan became the first black to hold the job of district attorney in New Orleans. After he had been on the job for a week, he fired 43 white non-legal staff — investigators, child-support officers, etc. — and replaced them with blacks. The whites sued, and in 2005, a jury found Mr. Jordan guilty of racial discrimination. Earlier this year a judge ordered the DA’s office to pay the white workers $3.58 million. Mr. Jordan denied any racial motive.
Wholesale firing of whites can be risky. The safer way to build a black environment is not to hire anyone else. In Los Angeles, only eight percent of workforce is black, but in a survey of black-owned companies, 41 percent reported that their employees were “mostly black,” something not likely to happen by chance.
A survey of black-owned businesses in Philadelphia produced even more straightforward results. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being most important, 60 percent classed as a 1 or a 2 the statement that hiring “qualified African-Americans” was a “high priority.” Their total employee base was 81.8 percent black, and not a single business reported having a workforce that was less than 50 percent black.
There are other ways to keep the workforce black. Not long before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in August 2005, one city councilman proposed that the city scrap its requirement that police officers live in the city. He thought this would make it easier to find good officers for a notoriously corrupt and inefficient force, but the plan was shouted down by blacks who were afraid it would attract suburban whites. Blacks in New Orleans were so hostile to mixing with whites that when white activists tried to join an anti-racism demonstration, black activists drove them away. Anthony Mitchell, a black Baptist preacher explained the extent of the racial divide: “The people who control public discourse here don’t like to talk about it. It’s not good for business. But this is really two cities.”
Given the difficulties blacks face, one might expect the need for competent police officers — or teachers — to come before racial solidarity, but this is not always so. In 2002, a white woman named Sandy Trammel taught fourth grade at overwhelmingly black West Riviera Elementary School in Riviera Beach, Florida. The school rated an “F” on state tests, and Mrs. Trammel’s class was no different: Only three of her 20 students read at grade level and four could not read at all. During the year, Mrs. Trammel’s students improved so dramatically she won $10,000 for helping West Riviera move from “F” to “C.” The school district made her a “peer assistance teacher” assigned to help other teachers, and the Palm Beach Post featured Mrs. Trammel in a big story in June.
In September 2003, when Mrs. Trammel showed up for her first peer teaching assignment at another black school, Principal Beverlyann Barton, who is black, turned her away. Too many blacks thought the three-month-old Palm Beach Post story about her gave the impression that Mrs. Trammel was “the great white hope,” who had rescued black children. Principal Barton explained that the article had poisoned the school environment, and that black teachers would not be able to work with her.
There was a similar conflict at Oberlin High School in Oberlin, Ohio, over who would teach black history. When the usual teacher, who was black, had a scheduling conflict, the school contacted a white replacement. When black parents found out, they filed a complaint. As Michael Williams of Cleveland State University’s black studies program explained, a black teacher “has the advantage of the culture” and “can understand the nuances of the culture.” Phyllis Yarber Hogan of the Oberlin Black Alliance for Progress argued that whites cannot teach blacks about slavery, for example: “How do you work through that [the injustice of slavery] when the person teaching it is the same type of person who did the enslaving?”
The United States has a number of “traditionally black” universities that have begun to integrate, just as white universities have, often with even less enthusiasm. Delaware State University was established in 1891 as State College for Colored Students. During the 2001/2002 school year, it settled two discrimination suits for undisclosed sums. Kathleen Carter, a white who chaired the education department, said blacks told her she was usurping their right to govern themselves, and that one colleague called her a “white bitch.”
Another teacher, Jane Buck, reported that a search committee once got 100 applications for a position but did not fill it because none of the candidates was black. When the search was reopened, the lone black applicant got the job.
Most discrimination suits end in a negotiated settlement but when they go to trial, there can be large awards. In 1998, a federal jury awarded $2.2 million to two tenured whites who were forced out of Cheyney University in Pennsylvania for opposing appointments of blacks they thought unqualified.
Whites who violate what blacks consider their exclusive preserves can face cruel pressures. From 1996 to 1998, Marcus Jacoby was the only white on the football team at a black college. Throughout that period he told reporters he was well accepted and was enjoying his experience as a minority. Two years later he decided to tell what it was really like.
Mr. Jacoby had been the star quarterback at Catholic High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and badly wanted to play in college. Nearby Southern University, a football powerhouse in the African American Southwestern Academic Conference, badly needed a quarterback, so Mr. Jacoby accepted a full scholarship. There had never been a white starting quarterback in the history of the league.
Except for his coaches, Mr. Jacoby was completely isolated. In the locker room and at lunch, his teammates shunned him. The season started badly with two losses. “I heard the entire stadium booing me. Fans were yelling ‘Get the white boy out,’” Mr. Jacoby recalled. Defensive players for the other teams hit him harder because he was white, and after his first game he went to the hospital with a concussion. One black teammate remembered that opponents said, “That’s what you all get for bringing white boys on the field.” An editorial writer in the student paper wondered whether some of Mr. Jacoby’s own teammates had deliberately let opponents through to tackle him. After Southern’s second loss, a fan threatened Mr. Jacoby, and after that he always had a police escort when he played.
Southern went on to win six of the next seven games, and there was less booing. Mr. Jacoby actually began to be friends with one of the players, whom other blacks called “white lover.” After Mr. Jacoby bobbled the final and crucial pass in a championship game, defensive coordinator Mark Orlando, who is white, got a call saying, “If Jacoby ever plays for Southern again, we’ll kill him — and you.” The coach says he got about a threat a week that season. Some time later, Mr. Jacoby and Mr. Orlando noticed nooses hanging from the surrounding trees when they left the locker room.
Amazingly, Mr. Jacoby came back the next year, and led the team to a 11-1 season that made Southern the league champion. He was still a complete outsider, though, and a few weeks into his third season, he could stand it no longer and quit. When reporters asked why, he told them he was “burned out,” though he was burned out with race, not football, as he led reporters to believe. Mr. Jacoby still tries to think of his time at Southern as a valuable sampling of a different culture but concedes that it was “two-and-a-half years of a personal hell.”
Separation and exclusion are evident in politics, as well; blacks support black candidates, if anything, even more monolithically than whites support white candidates. In January 2006, when former NAACP president Kweisi Mfume ran in the Democratic primary to be Senator from Maryland, 27 of his 29 endorsements from Democratic officials were from blacks. His white opponent, Benjamin Cardin got 100 endorsements, 93 of them from whites.
In 2003 in Baltimore, there were five Democratic candidates for mayor, three black and two white. An organization of back ministers sponsored what it billed as a debate for the Democratic candidates, but did not bother to invite the whites. At first the ministers claimed they had invited all the candidates but the whites had not appeared, but Rev. Russell Johnson of the Baptist Ministers’ Conference finally conceded that the forum was “only for black candidates.”
Often, the racial appeal to voters is undisguised. After Hurricane Katrina, Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans explained: It’s time for us to rebuild New Orleans — the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans . . . This city will be a majority African American city. It’s the way God wants it to be. You can’t have New Orleans no other way.” Later, when he ran for reelection against a largely-white field, he warned a black audience that his opponents “don’t look like us.”
New Orleans had had black mayors since 1978, and blacks were determined to keep it that way. As Bishop Paul Morton of the St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Church explained, the prospect of a white mayor was one that could “take us back so many years.” “There’s a lot of people that are really, really concerned,” he said.
Majority-black Washington, DC, likes to think of itself as a “chocolate city,” too. Natalie Hopkinson, a black staff writer for the Washington Post, wrote that as whites begin to move back into the district, many blacks have begun to wonder: “Is the chocolate city turning vanilla?” She explains how she would answer that question: “Not if I have anything to say about it.”
Her sentiments are widespread. John Street, the black mayor of Philadelphia addressed a large NAACP audience in 2002. The audience roared with approval as he declaimed: “Let me tell you: The brothers and sisters are running the city. Oh yes. The brothers and sisters are running this city. Running it! Don’t let nobody fool you; we are in charge of the City of Brotherly Love. We are in charge! We are in charge!” Whites were not pleased with this boasting, but Mayor Street was undaunted. Four days later, he appointed a black police chief.
In 2004, before the same NAACP audience, Mayor Street brushed off the complaints about his “we are in charge” speech. “We should never be ashamed of supporting African-Americans,” he said. “I will never apologize for [appointing] a black chief of staff, a black police commissioner, a black fire commissioner . . .”
Ever since 1968, the heavily-black Congressional district of central Brooklyn has had a black representative. In 2006, when an impeccably liberal white, David Yassky, decided to run in the district, he was met with angry accusations of “racial carpetbagging.” Blacks called for him to get out of the race and even asked Mr. Yassky’s political mentors like Senator Charles Schumer to pressure him to withdraw. Blacks were even reaching across racial lines and plotting with Hispanics to come up with ways to stop him.
Blacks are sometimes startlingly frank about jimmying the system to help blacks get elected. Trenton, North Carolina, went through a messy annexation of neighboring black areas in the hope of making it easier for blacks to win local elections. Activist Daniel Willis, husband of Trenton’s mayor, came up with an annexation map that neatly lopped off a corner of one town so as to leave out five white households. Otherwise, as he explained, blacks would “have that many more votes to overcome. The less whites [we] have in town, the better [our] chances are to be put on the town board.”
Some of the jimmying has attracted the attention of the Justice Department. In 2006, it charged the black chairman of the Democratic Party of Noxubee County, Mississippi, of “blatant and outrageous violations of the Voting Rights Act” of 1965. The department said he was guilty of just about every trick in the book: recruiting black candidates to run even when he knew they did not meet residency requirements, switching political meeting sites so whites would not know where to go, challenging white voters’ registrations, and rejecting absentee ballots from whites on technicalities while accepting ballots from blacks.
When Bill Clinton was President, he tried to appoint a friend from Yale Law School days, law professor Lani Guinier, to be Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. The appointment failed, in part, because of Miss Guinier’s advocacy of racial solidarity over democratic principles. She favored what was, in effect, electoral apartheid. If blacks were 13 percent of the US population, 13 percent of the seats would be set aside for them.
Other blacks have recommended cumulative voting, in which each voter gets as many votes as there are candidates. If there were only one black candidate in the field, blacks could give all their votes to him while whites split their votes among white candidates. Black racial solidarity would thus ensure the proportional representation Miss Guinier wanted.
Black voters are vigilant for opportunities to elect blacks, much to the disappointment of some white liberals. Chris Bell, a white Democratic congressman from Texas, was redistricted into a largely black area and promptly crushed in the 2004 primary by the former head of the Houston chapter of the NAACP. He felt betrayed: “I’m not going to stand here and pretend that it’s not somewhat heartbreaking when you’ve spent your entire career in public service fighting for diversity, championing diversity, to suddenly be placed in a situation where many people do not want to look past the color of your skin.”
A “champion of diversity” might have been expected to stand aside for a person of color more gracefully. At the same time, someone who understood blacks better might not have been so surprised. As Bishop Paul Morton observed about the 2006 mayoral race in New Orleans: “African-Americans are usually very loyal to African-American candidates. I’ve talked to some people who say, ‘I don’t care how bad the black is, he’s better than any white.’”
Once they get a black in office, however, blacks seem to lose interest in political races. As a black congressman once explained, “You can almost get away with raping babies and be forgiven. You don’t have any vigilance about your performance.”
The preference for any black candidate, without regard to ability or qualifications, is similar to the virtually monolithic support among blacks for affirmative action, or racial preferences in hiring and college admissions. Preferences for one group are possible only by discriminating against other groups, but for many blacks this doesn’t matter. When a white man explained to Willie Brown, then mayor of San Francisco, that racial preferences for blacks could hurt whites, he replied, “I don’t care about your idiot kids.”
The depth of black feeling was evident in maneuvers to keep the state of Michigan from putting a voter initiative on the ballot that would ban racial preferences. Once a court recognized that the requisite number of signatures had been secured for the initiative, it should have been a routine matter for the four members of the state Board of Canvassers to vote it onto the ballot. However, a rowdy crowd of 250 black high school students invaded board premises the day of the vote. As the members tried to deliberate, students stood on chairs, stomped their feet, and shouted, “They say Jim Crow; we say hell no.” Others surged toward the board members, knocking over a table.
The crowd was particularly vocal toward the one black man on the board — ”Be a black man about this, please,” as one of the rowdies put it — and he voted against the initiative. Another Democrat refused to vote, so the initiative did not get on the ballot that day. It was, as Chris Thomas, director of elections for the Michigan Secretary of State put it, “a victory of mob rule.” The Board of Canvassers later managed to get the initiative on the ballot, but it was noteworthy that demonstrators resorted to intimidation to keep preferences intact, and equated their removal with Jim Crow. As we will see, for almost all blacks, preferences are untouchable. Whites who oppose them are “racists,” and blacks who oppose them are “traitors.”
The NAACP’s program of grading companies on the number of blacks they hire, their level of charity to black organizations, and the number of black-owned companies they hire as suppliers is only a milder version of the same sentiment. The NAACP does not care whether a company hires or promotes fairly or how well it treats any other minority group. It’s only question is “what’s in it for blacks?” Companies that do not disclose the information the NAACP demands get an “F” or failing grade. At the 2006 national convention, NAACP president Bruce Gordon blasted the Target chain of retailers: “They didn’t even care to respond to our survey,” he said. “Stay out of their stores.”
Sometimes black self-absorption is almost comical. Under the headline, “Global Warming Could Spell Disaster for Blacks,” the Internet arm of Black Entertainment Television warned that “unless the United States gets real about the threat of global warming, African Americans and other people of color can expect a repeat of disasters like Katrina.” The article went on: “Citing Katrina as a case-in-point, some environmentalists say global warming impacts minorities and the disadvantaged harder than other groups. If global warming gets worse, many African-American communities will be more vulnerable to breathing ailments, insect-carried diseases and heat-related illness and death.”
(Katrina was not “a case in point.” Despite repeated claims that blacks were dying in disproportionate numbers, several months after the Hurricane, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals reported that it was whites who had died at the highest rates. They had been 28 percent of the city’s population but accounted for 36.6 percent of the deaths. The figures for blacks were 67 and 59.1 percent.)
Katrina did give rise to another curious sort of black consciousness. Red Cross shelters in nearby states opened their doors to refugees, many of them black. Shelters in Nashville and Franklin had mostly white volunteer staff, and some blacks found this objectionable. As Joyce Searcy of the Bethlehem Centers in Nashville explained, “When you’re different and you’re the lone person, you do feel different. When you’re in crisis you like to have some familiarity there.” She called for the Red Cross to establish black-run shelters in black neighborhoods. The Red Cross acknowledged that most of its volunteers are white, but pointed out that volunteer training was open to anyone.
Yet another version of racial solidarity appeared when Community Bank of Lawndale, which serves a mostly-black West Side Chicago neighborhood, changed hands. After the bank’s black owners sold it to Asian-American-owned International Bank, customers and former shareholders demanded that regulators return it to black ownership. As Rev. Marvin Hunter, leader of the protest explained somewhat incoherently, “this is not a race issue. This is an economic issue. We don’t believe other people can look out for the interests of black people.”
American blacks are hardly alone in wanting black institutions. In October 2002, the government of Barbados hosted the “African and African Descendants’ World Conference Against Racism.” On the opening day, the 200 delegates voted to expel all non-blacks. As Garadina Gamba of the British delegation explained, “This is an African family occasion and therefore they [whites] should not be allowed to sit down and talk with us.” The dozen or so whites and Asians, mostly interpreters and members of non-governmental organizations, meekly left the “conference against racism.”
The constitution of Liberia, founded by former black slaves from the United States, contains a bald declaration of racial exclusiveness. Drafted in 1983, Chapter IV, Article 27b states “In order to preserve, foster and maintain the positive Liberian culture, values and character, only persons who are Negroes or of Negro descent shall qualify by birth or naturalization to be citizens of Liberia.” The constitution also restricts land ownership to citizens.
In post-apartheid South Africa, blacks have largely erased whites from the history of the struggle for majority rule. As British journalist Peter Hitchens reports:
When I visited Helen Suzman, once the lone anti-apartheid MP in the former white-dominated Parliament, she complained about the way she and her fellow liberals have been airbrushed from official history, barely featuring in the grandiose but disappointing Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, which is mainly about the courage of the ANC. I was astonished when she told me she had been treated better by the repressive crocodiles of the old white National Party than today’s liberal opposition are treated by the ANC.
Blacks who support all-black institutions that exclude whites are, needless to say, the first to insist on “inclusion” if blacks are not adequately represented in majority-white settings. Even if blacks are not actually kept out of something, their mere absence may merit contempt. Black columnist for the New York Daily News E.R. Shipp wrote about the 2006 Winter Olympics:
“These Winter Olympics, oh, how white they are! And I’m not talking about the snow . . . [T]hese Olympics are so white that the presumption is that certain white athletes are entitled to gold medals. Now, maybe that’s also American arrogance. To me, it’s a bad case of whiteness.”
Black television anchorman Bryant Gumbel took the same view: “Finally, tonight, the Winter Games. Count me among those who don’t like them and won’t watch them . . . [T]ry not to laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention.” Presumably only blacks can be great athletes, and any competition not dominated by them is trivial.
One of the essential rules of white racial etiquette is to assume that culture is independent of race, that anyone of any color from anywhere in the world can be a full participant in any civilization. Many blacks would disagree; they appear to believe that culture is inseparable from biology. Camille Hernandez-Ramdawar’s mother is white and her father was a black from Trinidad. Her parents separated, and her white mother reared her. She recognized that her mother loved her, but when she became an adult she found there was something her mother could not give her: “a culture that matched her color.”
Heather Green, a Canadian of black-white parentage, explains her own embrace of blackness:
If I do anything short of vigilantly embracing my African identity — consciously, wholeheartedly and without illusions about African realities — than I may be swept away, co-opted, consumed and sucked into the European power structure, culture and mindset . . . Identifying as an African woman, as a daughter of African people and African ancestors, I vow that I am not and will not become part of any value system which seeks to crush other races through its way of life.
This is a particularly harsh view of “European” society, and is a complete rejection of half her parentage. Nevertheless, the assumption that culture follows biology is at the root of the official black view of cross-racial adoption. In 1972, the National Association of Black Social Workers (the one that holds exclusively black conferences) officially took the stance that adoption of blacks by whites was “genocide.” In 1994, it withdrew the charge that it is genocide, but still opposes adoption by whites.The association asserts “black children in white homes are cut off from the healthy development of themselves as black people.”
South African blacks agree. Under white rule, it was illegal for whites to adopt black babies, but after the African National Congress took power in 1994 it repealed the ban. The AIDS epidemic and the social disruption that followed the end of apartheid have led to growing numbers of abandoned black babies, with hundreds given up for adoption every month. Whites have adopted some of these babies but many blacks are horrified, and want to reinstitute the ban. “These children, the next generation, will be tainted for ever because they will never know who they are,” said one black social worker.
The close tie between black race and culture is evident elsewhere. Over the years, communities of Ethiopian Jews have emigrated to Israel. Although most have never been to the United States or even seen an American black, they are passionate fans of rap music, hip-hop fashion, and “gangsta” demeanor, and show no interest in Israeli pop culture. “All the Ethiopians try to imitate the (American) blacks,” says 16-year-old Batya Tadela, also from Ethiopia.
The same link between race and culture is behind the growth in the United States of two recent black movements: Kwanzaa and the Black Muslims. Both started from nothing and now have millions of supporters and members — essentially all black. Kwanzaa was invented in 1966 by a black activist named Ron Karenga as a black holiday for the Christmas season. US Presidents now deliver official Kwanzaa greetings, and the Postal Service issues Kwanzaa stamps. According to a 2004 survey by the National Retail Foundation, 4.7 million Americans celebrated the holiday. Kwanzaa does not formally exclude whites, but local organizers sometimes keep out non-blacks. One reporter wrote recently that a major celebration in Buffalo would not let a white journalist cover the event but welcomed black journalists. Even recent cultural artifacts can quickly become exclusively black.
As for the Black Muslims, they have grown from a handful in the 1930s, to nearly three million. If this rate of growth were to continue, Islam could rival Christianity in some urban areas. Blacks who may not, themselves, be members of the Nation of Islam have great respect for its anti-white leader, Louis Farrakhan. Users of the Internet arm of Black Entertainment Television, BET.com, chose him as the black “person of the year” for 2005. Mr. Farrakhan was elected over Oprah Winfrey, Senator Barack Obama, Robert L. Johnson, who started BET, and “the suffering victims of Hurricane Katrina of New Orleans.” As Retha Hill, BET.com’s vice president for content, explained, “An overwhelming percentage of our users agreed that Minister Farrakhan made the most positive impact on the Black community over the past year.”
What did Mr. Farrakhan do in 2005 to deserve that honor? He received heavy news coverage twice that year. Once was when he promoted the theory that whites blew up the New Orleans levees to destroy black neighborhoods. The other was when he organized a “Millions More Movement” on the National Mall to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Million Man March. On that occasion, Michael Muhammad, National Youth Minister for the Nation of Islam declaimed: “We want to say to our young brothers of the Crips and the Bloods that we are one family. The real enemy doesn’t wear blue, but white, even when he’s butt naked.”
Ayinde Baptiste, a Nation of Islam speaker from an early age, added: “We are at war here in America and across the world . . . We need soldiers now. We need black male soldiers, we need black feminist soldiers, we need Crips and Bloods soldiers . . . soldiers in the prisons, soldiers in the streets.” He did not need to point out whom these soldiers were to fight. The Congressional Black Caucus endorsed the event and five black Congressmen attended it.
To embrace blackness often means a deep hostility to interracial dating. Interracial couples often report more open hostility from blacks than whites. It is not surprising, therefore, that Interrace magazine, which was published for mixed-race couples, found in a reader poll that heavily-black Detroit was the major US city least receptive to black-white couples. Atlanta was most receptive, but mixed couples generally found the whitest cities the most welcoming.
Many mixed-race people have reported that when they were growing up, black children were more cruel than white children. One woman recalls blacks calling her “half-white bitch” or “half-white monkey.” Another says children called her “honky nigger.”
Some white men react harshly when they see “their” women with black men, but blacks are now probably more likely than whites to resort to violence against a mixed couple. Rashard Casey was the star quarterback of the Penn State football team. In 2000, he and another black visited a Hoboken, New Jersey, nightclub and were angry to find a black woman with a white man. “What are you doing with him?” they asked. “You should be with us; you’re one of us.” When the white man, Patrick Fitzsimmons, left the bar, the two blacks knocked him down and nearly kicked him to death. Mr. Fitzsimmons had what could almost be called professional reasons for escorting a black lady. He was a tolerance training instructor for the Hoboken Police Department.
Blacks understand that marrying outside their race brings a serious risk of being “not black enough.” Almost no whites have ever heard of Tyler Perry, but he is one of America’s most successful black playwrights and movie producers. A budget movie adapted from one of his stage shows, “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” surprised the industry by opening at No. 1 at the box office, and eventually taking in more than $50 million. “African-American women are the most loyal fan base you’ll ever have,” he explains. “As long as you don’t marry outside the race, you are in.”
This is an old concern. No less a person than W.E.B. Du Bois, founder of the modern black civil rights movement, fell in love with a German girl named Dora Marbach when he was young, but decided not to marry her. He had made up his mind to be a leader of black people, and knew that a white wife would discredit him.
A common aspect of black racial consciousness is the conviction that whites are irredeemably racist. Undoubtedly, there are some whites who do not like blacks, but the sentiments many blacks attribute to whites are nothing short of caricature. Film producer Spike Lee, for example, explained to Playboy in 2004 why he would never go to an event sponsored by the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing: “I just imagine hearing some Country-and-Western song over a loudspeaker at NASCAR: ‘Hang them n****r up high! Hang them n****r up high!’ I’m not going to no NASCAR.” Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington likewise explains, “a whole lot of people in the country won’t go to a movie I’m in because I’m black. Period.”
As noted earlier in Part I, a solid majority of blacks believe the US government is giving them AIDS, so it should not be surprising that they should believe other things that reflect badly on whites. A 2004 BET/CBS poll found that only 41 percent of black registered voters had “a lot” of confidence that their votes would even be counted in November, and no fewer than 68 percent agreed with the statement that there are “deliberate attempts to disrupt African American voting.”
In a survey of blacks supported by Oregon State University and the Rand Corporation, one third said medical institutions use minorities as “guinea pigs” to try out new birth control methods. Almost one-fourth agreed that “poor and minority women are sometimes forced to be sterilized by the government,” and 22 percent agreed that “the government’s family-planning policies are intended to control the number of black people.”
Only 36 percent of blacks — as opposed to 61 percent of whites — support doctor-assisted suicide. Rev. James Perkins of Detroit’s Greater Christ Baptist Church says it is because they believe such a system would be manipulated so that blacks would be “receiving less medical care and [were] more often eliminated.” Mary Evans, one of two black members of the board of a non-profit group that advocates physician-assisted suicide, explains that “people in the black community see death with dignity as just another way for them to be offed.”
It was widely reported during the relief efforts that followed Hurricane Katrina that many blacks believed New Orleans had been neglected because so many of the victims were black. Seventy percent of blacks — and 30 percent of whites — believed this. Nor was it only Louis Farrakhan who claimed the government had blown up the New Orleans levees to flood black neighborhoods. There were no scientific polls taken on this question, but a black Washington Post columnist explained: “I was stunned in New Orleans at how many black New Orleanians would tell me with real conviction that somehow the levee breaks had been engineered in order to save the French Quarter and the Garden District at the expense of the Lower Ninth Ward, which is almost all black . . . These are not wild-eyed people. These are reasonable, sober people who really believe that.”
The late Carl Rowan was a syndicated columnist, head of the USIA, ambassador to Finland, and served on the National Security Council, but it would probably be safe to assume he would have been among those who thought black New Orleans was deliberately flooded. In a 1996 book called The Coming Race War in America, he wrote that whites are so inveterately racist that blacks will soon rise up in massive violence. He claimed that “corporate boardrooms, local governments, education districts, are full of powerful men and women who are virulent bigots,” and wrote of “cruelly bigoted rhetoric that often befouls the well of the House of Representatives.” Although he failed to provide examples, he wrote: “As surely as though they were Third Reich propagandists paving the way for a blitzkrieg, we see the right-wing hate-mongers all over the American media, spewing forth venom that energizes the white supremacists.”
Ellis Cose is a black journalist who often writes for Newsweek. He insists that racism is so pervasive that “despite its very evident prosperity, much of America’s black middle class is in excruciating pain.” He claims that “decent black people” with good, white-collar jobs “are themselves in a state of either silent resentment or deeply repressed rage. Taken as a group, they are at least as disaffected and pessimistic as those struggling at society’s periphery.”
It is hard for whites to understand “excruciating pain” and “repressed rage” when they can think of no white institutions and very few white individuals who could be described as persecuting blacks. Three black social workers, Sekou Mims, Omar Reid, and Larry Higginbottom, have recognized this very problem and have a name for it: “post traumatic slavery disorder (PTSD).” Mr. Reid runs support groups for black men who are filled with rage and anxiety despite the fact that there are no obvious white oppressors in their lives. PTSD causes it, he says. There may be few whites today who actively oppress blacks, but past oppression still has dramatic effects. PTDS therefore causes crime, illegitimacy, drug-taking, and school failure. “Black people as a whole are suffering from PTSD,” explains Mr. Mims, who hopes to have the disorder recognized as an official medical diagnosis.
Suspicion of whites begins early. A professor of education studied how black and white high school students differed in how they evaluated different sources of historical knowledge:
“When asked to rank order the credibility of a range of sources, white students selected history textbooks, history teachers, and library books as the three most reputable . . . Black student selected family members, black teachers, and documentaries/videos by or about black people. They thought that traditional teachers and textbooks represented ‘white people’s history’ . . . Family members and other black adults were trustworthy because elders and others passed down ‘what really happened’ in the past.”
Black author Patricia Turner has written an eye-opening book called I Heard it Through the Grapevine about some of the terrible things blacks think whites are trying to do to them. She reports that in the 1980s many blacks believed Church’s fried chicken was laced with a chemical that would sterilize blacks. She writes that in 1984, then-Congressman Jim Bates of California actually had the FDA test some of the chicken, using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. A black boycott weakened the chain, and it merged with Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits. In the 1990s, a soft drink called Tropical Fantasy had to mount a long, hard campaign to squelch the same sterilization rumor.
Miss Turner reports that one company probably went under because of paranoid rumors. The Troop Sport brand of clothing was very popular with blacks in the 1980s even though most whites had never heard of it. According to a company spokesman, 95 percent of sales were to blacks and Hispanics. Then word got around that the Ku Klux Klan owned the company, and that Troop stood for “To Rule Over Oppressed People.” Inside the linings were supposed to be messages like “Thank you, nigger, for making us rich.” Troop started putting up anti-Klan ads in stores and hired the black group Gladys Knight and the Pips to promote the brand. It didn’t work; the company went out of business.
If people really believe the government is giving him AIDS and blowing up levees, that white-owned companies are trying to sterilize them, and that corporate board rooms are filled with “virulent bigots,” they would be lacking in normal human emotions if they did not — to put it bluntly — hate white people.
Indeed, expressions of explicit anti-white hatred go back to at least the time of W.E.B. Du Bois, who once wrote, “It takes extraordinary training, gift and opportunity to make the average white man anything but an overbearing hog, but the most ordinary Negro is an instinctive gentleman.”
On another occasion he expressed similar sentiments in verse:
I hate them, Oh!
I hate them well,
I hate them, Christ!
As I hate hell!
If I were God,
I’d sound their knell
One might argue that in Du Bois’s time, when segregation was widespread and discrimination was still common, such sentiments were understandable. Today, many whites find them less justified, but they may be more common than ever. Amiri Baraka, originally known as LeRoi Jones, is one of America’s most famous and well-regarded black poets. His work is brimming with anti-white animus as in these lines from “Black Dada Nihilismus:”
Come up, black dada nihilismus.
Rape the white girls.
Rape their fathers.
Cut the mothers’ throats.
In “Leroy” he wrote: “When I die, the consciousness I carry I will to black people. May they pick me apart and take the useful parts, the sweet meat of my feelings. And leave the bitter bullshit rotten white parts alone.” In July, 2002, Mr. Baraka was appointed poet laureate of New Jersey, but came under criticism only when he wrote about the Sept. 11 attacks: “Who told 4,000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers to stay home that day? Why did Sharon stay away?”
Casual observations by blacks reveal attitudes whites may not suspect. On March 10, 2003, two policemen died in a shootout at the Stapleton Houses in New York City. Almost everyone who lives in the housing project is black. Grace Watkins, an 18-year-old resident, explained that when people learned about the killings they said they thought the policemen got what they deserved. “I think a lot of people out here weren’t worried about [the shootings] because they thought they were white cops, but when they heard the cops were black, their attitude changed totally,” she said. “And they started expressing concern for the police officers’ families.”
Toni Morrison is a celebrated black author who has won the Nobel Prize, but her white admirers may be surprised by her views: “With very few exceptions, I feel that White people will betray me; that in the final analysis they’ll give me up.” “It’s just a kind of constant vigilance and awareness that maybe these relationships [friendship with whites] can go just so far.” She has also explained why there are no major white characters in her novels: “What is interesting to me is what is going on within the community. And within the community, there are no major White players.”
Author Randall Robinson has concluded after years of activism that “in the autumn of my life, I am left regarding white people, before knowing them individually, with irreducible mistrust and dull dislike.” He wrote that it gave him pleasure that when his father was dying he slapped a white nurse, telling her not “to put her white hands on him.”
In June 2006, Professor Leonard Jeffries of the City University of New York spoke at a “Unity in Diversity” forum at New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. He told the 100 or so mostly black city workers that blacks have absorbed too much white thinking: “If every white person in the world dropped dead, the system [that oppresses you] would continue to go on, because it’s in you now.” To roars of approval, he explained how blacks should purge themselves of white thinking: “My basic rule of thumb is to stay away from things white. Take the whiteness out of your minds, or at least neutralize it with blackness.” Prof. Jeffries says blacks should avoid white milk, white bread and white sugar, and that coffee-drinkers should “take it black.” For more than an hour, he mocked and ridiculed whites.
Khalid Abdul Muhammed, an assistant to Louis Farrakhan once observed:
Hollywood is owned by these so-called Jews. Look at the movies they make about us, Black people killing Black people. Let’s make some revolutionary movies where we kill white people in the movie. Kill ‘em so hard you have to cover up your popcorn from the blood spraying out of the screen.
Black rap artists commonly express hatred and contempt for whites. This is just a small sampling from the large number of anti-white lyrics found in recordings:
- “They got us brainwashed to be the minority, but when we kill them off we gonna be the majority . . . if the whites speak up, then I’ll lead my people, because two wrongs don’t make it right but it damn sure make us equal; I’m inciting riots, so let’s start the looting . . . in this revolution I loathe my enemy . . .”
- “A fight, a fight, a nigger and a white, if the nigger don’t win then we all jump in . . . smoking [killing] all America’s white boys . . .”
- “I kill a devil [white] right now . . . I say kill whitey all nightey long . . . I would kill a cracker for nothing, just for the fuck of it . . . Menace Clan kill a cracker; jack ’em even quicker . . . catch that devil slipping; blow his fucking brains out.”
- “Devils [whites] fear this brand new shit . . . I bleed them next time I see them . . . I prey on these devils . . . filling his body up with lead, yah; cracker in my way; slitting, slit his throat; watch his body shake; watch his body shake; that’s how we do it in the motherfucking [San Francisco] Bay . . .”
Fantasies about killing whites are not limited to the “gangsta” underground. Jazz musician Miles Davis once said, “If somebody told me I had only one hour to live, I’d spend it choking a white man. I’d do it nice and slow.” bell hooks, a black professor of English at City College of New York, who insists on spelling her name in lower case, once wrote, “I am writing this essay sitting beside an anonymous white male that I long to murder.” Demond Washington, a star athlete at Tallassee High School in Tallassee, Alabama, got in trouble for saying over the school intercom, “I hate white people and I’m going to kill them all!” Later he said he did not really mean it.
Someone who probably did mean it was Dr. Kamau Kambon, black activist and former visiting professor of Africana Studies at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In 2006, Prof. Kambon told a panel at Howard University Law School that “we [blacks] are at war” and that white people had set up an “international plantation” for blacks. “White people want to kill us,” he added. “They want to kill you because that is part of their plan.” Dr. Kambon’s solution? “We have to exterminate white people off the face of the planet to solve this problem.”
It may be that Prof. Kambon was unusual only in that his remarks were broadcast by C-SPAN. In 2005, I was on a radio program with James “Jimi” Izrael, a black editorial assistant for the Lexington, Kentucky, Herald-Leader, to talk about Prof. Kambon. I mentioned other famous blacks who have publicly fantasized about killing whites, and Mr. Izrael began to laugh. “Listen,” he said, “I’m laughing because if I had a dollar for every time I heard a black person [talking about] killing somebody white I’d be a millionaire, like, once or twice a week.”
For some, killing whites is not mere fantasy. Although the press was quiet about this aspect of the story, the two snipers who terrorized the Washington, DC, area in 2002 had a specifically racial motive. Lee Malvo testified that his confederate John Muhammad was driven by hatred of America because of its “slavery, hypocrisy and foreign policy.” His plan was to kill six whites a day for 30 days.
Mr. Malvo and Mr. Muhammad did not get very far with their plan. The Black Muslims behind what became known as the Zebra Killings were more successful. For a 179-day period in 1973 and 1974, a group of “Death Angels” kept the city of San Francisco in a state of panic as they killed dozens of randomly-chosen “blue-eyed devils.” Some 71 deaths were eventually attributed to them. Four of an estimated 14 Death Angels were convicted of first-degree murder. Most Americans have never heard of the Zebra Killings.
Although the common assumption about American race relations is that whites, not blacks, nurse racial hostilities that often erupt in violence, racially-motivated murder of whites by blacks is considerably more common. Murders like that of James Byrd, dragged to death by whites in 1998, are well reported, but racial murder by blacks is little publicized.
For example, in Wilkinsburg, near Philadelphia, 39-year-old Ronald Taylor killed three men and wounded two others in a 2000 rampage, in which he targeted only whites. At one point, he pushed a black woman out of his way, saying “Not you, sister,” and was heard to say, “I’m not going to hurt any black people. I’m just out to kill all white people.” At one point, he also aimed a gun at a white woman’s head, uttered what news reports called “a racial epithet,” and then said, “No, I think I’ll terrorize you for a while.” Fortunately, he did not shoot her.
Police found anti-white diatribes in his apartment, but were careful to play down any possible racial motive. As the town’s police chief explained, “There’s a lot of anger and hostility in this individual, so I think it’s a little premature to simply define this as a racist event.”
In the same year, Obie Weathers ran amok in San Antonio, Texas. He attacked but did not manage to kill two elderly white men. Later he found 82-year-old Norma Petrash in her home and beat her to death. All three whites — attacked within 24 hours — lived within a six-block radius, but the killer does not appear to have known them. One detective said Mr. Weathers told him, “I hate all white people.”
Also in 2000, a black man named Gregory Devon Murphy walked into a quiet, residential neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia, and casually slit the throat of an eight-year-old white boy playing in his front yard. When police searched the man’s belongings they found a note that said “Kill them raceess whiate kidd’s anyway.” Mr. Murphy had already served time for attacking a white man without provocation, calling him “whitey,” and beating him with a hammer.
In 2005, Philip Grant, who is black, stabbed Concetta Russo-Carriero to death in a shopping mall parking lot in White Plains, New York. In a video-taped confession, he explained why he murdered her: “I never saw her before, and I didn’t care. All I knew was she had blond hair and blue eyes and she had to die. If I’d have had a gun [that day], there’d be a lot dead white people on the streets of White Plains.” He added: “I was thinking that the first person I see this morning that looks white, I’m killing them. I have no remorse whatsoever because she was white.” A jury convicted him of murder.
It is safe to assume that if the races had been reversed in these cases — if whites had murdered blacks for racial reasons — there would have been considerably more news coverage.
Ever since serious riots in April 2001, Cincinnati has suffered racial tension that occasionally breaks out into anti-white violence. In 2002, police attracted a crowd when they broke up a fight between two black women. The crowd became a mob and started throwing rocks at whites driving by. Gary Landers, a photographer for the Cincinnati Inquirer, ventured into the area looking for news but ventured out when someone shouted at him: “Get your white ass out of here. We oughta just kill all you white (expletive deleted) and we wouldn’t have no more problems.”
Although he did not commit murder, in his autobiography Makes Me Wanna Holler, Washington Post journalist Nathan McCall remembered an episode from his early years:
The fellas and I were hanging out on our corner one afternoon when the strangest thing happened. A white boy . . . came pedaling a bicycle casually through the neighborhood . . . Somebody spotted him and pointed him out to the rest of us. ‘Look! What’s that motherfucka doin’ ridin’ through here?! Is he crraaaazy?!’ . . . We caught him on Cavalier Boulevard and knocked him off the bike . . . Ignoring the passing cars, we stomped him and kicked him. My stick partners kicked him in the head and face and watched the blood gush from his mouth. I kicked him in the stomach and nuts, where I knew it would hurt. Every time I drove my foot into his balls, I felt better . . . one dude kept stomping, like he’d gone berserk . . . When he finished, he reached down and picked up the white dude’s bike, lifted it as high as he could above his head, and slammed it down on him hard . . . We walked away, laughing, boasting, competing for bragging rights about who’d done the most damage.
Mr. McCall expressed no regrets for this brutality.
Many whites have no direct experience of the active hatred many blacks feel for them, but it can crop up in unexpected places. Frank Ahrens writes in the Washington Post of walking through a lively part of Washington, DC, and admiring the music of a black sidewalk saxophonist. As he was about to compliment the man, the black said to him, “After 42 years in this life, I learned one thing: White people suck!” Mr. Ahrens later watched as a white woman dropped a bill into the man’s saxophone case only to be met with a snarling racial slur. “She staggered in response, as if shoved,” he wrote.
A generalized hatred of whites is not restricted to American blacks. Faraday Nkoane, leader of the Uhuru cultural club in Pretoria, South Africa, told a young audience at a Human Rights Day celebration that stealing from whites “is the right thing to do.” He went on:
Stop stealing from black people . . . The whites have stolen from us since April 6, 1652. Our ancestors’ cattle, goats, sheep, chickens and others are in the hands of the whites, while we are left with nothing . . . Taking from whites is not a crime because you repossess what belongs to you. But make sure you are not caught.
Amiri Bakara, poet laureate of New Jersey, expressed the same sentiments years earlier, and even put them in blank verse:
You cant steal nothin from a white man, he’s already
stole it he owes
you anything you want, even his life. All the stores will
open up if you
will say the magic words. The magic words are: Up against
the wall motherfucker this is a stick up!
Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, has made a name for himself as a hater of white people. He has systematically driven white farmers off their land, and has called for the expulsion of all whites. “Our party must continue to strike fear in the heart of the white man, our real enemy,” he once told a party congress. “Zimbabwe,” he says, “is for black people, not white people.” The expulsion of whites, who had run a very successful economy, plunged his people into deep hardship, but it made him extremely popular with blacks who do not live in Zimbabwe. The overwhelmingly black readers of the British magazine New Africa voted him the third greatest African of all time, after Nelson Mandela and Kwame Nkrumah, the first post-colonial African leader (Martin Luther King, Jr. was seventh and Malcolm X was ninth).
Some American blacks are equally impressed with Mr. Mugabe. On Sept. 12, 2002, he offered the United Nations General Assembly in New York City a spirited defense of his policy of driving out white farmers. That afternoon, at New York’s City Council chamber, he spoke on the same theme to an audience from the City Council’s Black and Hispanic Caucus. Charles Barron, a Brooklyn council member and former Black Panther who had invited Mr. Mugabe to City Hall, hugged him and held his hand aloft like a victorious boxer.
Mr. Barron no doubt sees a kindred spirit in Mr. Mugabe. At a rally for reparations for slavery, he once said he sometimes wants to go up to a white person, say, “You can’t understand this, it’s a black thing,” and then “slap him just for my mental health.”
Given this level of dislike for the majority population, it is not surprising that many blacks feel alienated from the United States as a whole. Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, black author Brian Gilmore wrote that blacks were not emotionally drawn into the events the way whites were, that they were “not feeling that deep sense of patriotism that most Americans feel.” Of his fellow blacks he wrote, “They were Americans, but not quite as American as white Americans.” He wrote about what was to him the most important consequence of the attacks: “[N]ot only was the black agenda taken off the table for the foreseeable future, the table itself was taken down.”
In the aftermath of the attacks, in which hundreds of New York City firemen died in rescue attempts, many fire departments started flying American flags on their trucks as a tribute to fallen comrades. On Sept. 15, two black members of the Miami-Dade department, Jim Moore and Terry Williams, refused to ride on a truck flying the flag. Thomas Steinfatt, a professor specializing in inter-cultural communications at the University of Miami, says their sentiments are common. “Black Americans perceive a lot of areas of discrimination that are not evident to whites,” he said. “To some, the flag represents white America, not all of America.”
Three months after the attacks, Rev. Al Sharpton spoke at the State of the Black World Conference, held in Atlanta. He celebrated the view that blacks are not really part of America, and taunted the American military for not being able to find Osama bin Laden. “This country can’t find a guy who comes out every two weeks to cut a video, and then you challenge us to stand under one flag?” he asked, to thunderous applause from 700 black delegates.
In 2000, state legislators in New Jersey tried to pass a bill to have school children recite this passage from the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
The bill would have also required schools to describe the historical context that explains why the passage refers only to men, and that it was written at a time when slavery was legal. Black legislators fought the bill because “all men are created equal” did not apply to blacks in 1776. State Senator Wayne Bryant led the opposition: “It’s another way of being exclusionary and insensitive . . . You have the nerve to ask my grandchildren to recite (the declaration). How dare you? You are now on notice that this is offensive to my community.” Every black state senator opposed the bill.
Likewise in 2000, Chicago alderman Bernard Stone thought it would be a patriotic gesture if every city council session began with the Pledge of Allegiance. “It seemed to me to be a no-brainer, something that would be passed almost without discussion,” he said. He was wrong. Black members of the council complained that the final phrase, “with liberty and justice for all” is hypocritical because it does not include blacks. The council finally did vote to open meetings with the pledge, but several black members abstained. When the council recited the pledge for the first time, at least one black member stayed outside the room.
In January 2002, the Virginia state legislature voted unanimously to begin each session by reciting the official state pledge to the Virginia flag: “I salute the flag of Virginia, with reverence and patriotic devotion to the ‘Mother of States and Statesmen,’ which it represents — the ‘Old Dominion,’ where liberty and independence were born.” A week later, black legislators tried to stop recitation of the pledge when they learned that it was written in 1946 by a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a club for women descended from Confederate soldiers. They had also learned that the state had adopted the pledge in 1954, at a time when segregation was still legal. “I don’t want to affirm a time when Virginia was exclusive and not inclusive,” said Delegate Dwight Jones of Richmond. “I feel like I’m affirming the past and the mood of the state at the time [when I recite the pledge].” By this logic, they should abolish the flag itself, which was adopted in 1861, when slavery was still practiced.
For many blacks, the history of the United States is an unbroken chain of racism and oppression, and can never be a source of pride or patriotism. As filmmaker Spike Lee has explained, “When talking about the history of this great country, one can never forget that America was built upon the genocide of Native Americans and enslavement of African people. To say otherwise is criminal.”
Equally deep alienation from the United States was reflected by a group of black congressmen who were convinced that the presidential elections of 2000, in which there was dispute about the vote count in Florida, reflected systematic racism and corruption in the American electoral system. The group, led by Texas Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, sent a letter to Secretary General Kofi Annan asking the United Nations to send election observers to monitor the US presidential election in 2004, in order to “ensure free and fair elections.”
A different but related form of alienation is reflected in the frequent unwillingness of blacks to cooperate with the police, even when they are investigating crimes committed against other blacks. In 2006, “Stop Snitching” T-shirts were something of a fashion craze. They featured a large red “stop” symbol with “stop snitching” in block letters inside, and showed up on people loitering around crime scenes when the police came to investigate.
Pittsburgh prosecutor Lisa Pellegrini had seen the shirt before, but was furious when she found one of her own prosecution witnesses wearing one in court. This was a man she was counting on to testify against a murderer, but he walked out of the courthouse rather than turn the shirt inside out. With no witness for the prosecution, she had no case and the judge dismissed charges. Miss Pellegrini explained that refusal to cooperate is pervasive: “In almost every one of my homicides, this happens: ‘I don’t know nothin’ about nothing.’ There is that attitude, ‘Don’t be a snitch.’ And it’s condoned by the community.” In Massachusetts, the problem was so bad that the state banned “Stop Snitching” clothing from all courthouses. More ominously, it also banned cell phones with cameras, when friends of a defendant were caught using a cell phone to take pictures of witnesses and the prosecutor.
There are even magazines sold on newsstands that are devoted to contempt for the law. One called Felon appeals both to the real thing and to young blacks who think prison time is a glamorous rite of passage. In 2006 it published an entire “stop snitchin” issue. One letter to the editor closed with “To my bitches, I love ya’ll.” A similar magazine, Don Diva, was launched with the motto “For The Ghetto Fabulous Lifestyle.” It later rechristened itself as “The Original Street Bible,” and glamorizes outlaw life with articles about criminals, clothing, cars, and is illustrated with sultry, near-naked women. One fold-out cover depicted a staged street execution. “We speak for the streets — people doing time, doing life and doing death,” explained editor Tiffany Childs.
For many blacks, a highly visible refusal to respect the white man’s law is more important than justice. Busta Rhymes is a hip-hop star who, along with as many as 50 other blacks, probably saw someone shoot his bodyguard in 2006. No one was willing to talk to the police. This was also the case in the unsolved murders of other prominent rappers: Tupac Shakur, the Notorious B.I.G., and Jam Master Jay.
It is not only rappers and ghetto-dwellers who think blacks should put loyalty to race above loyalty to the law. Paul Butler is a former U.S. Attorney-turned-law-professor, who thinks that when black juries decide the fate of black defendants who are clearly guilty, they should first decide whether it is good for black people if the accused is sent to prison. If not, they should acquit. He openly promotes “jury nullification,” whereby jurors make decisions without regard for the evidence. “I do want to subvert the criminal justice system,” he said unapologetically.
Are there blacks who do not put race first, who oppose racial preferences, who want Americans of all colors to overcome the divisiveness of the past? In short, are there blacks who have the same ideals about race as most whites? Yes, and other blacks despise them.
The most hated black man in America is undoubtedly Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Rather than taking pride in his achievements, blacks heap scorn on him because he does not display a strong racial consciousness, and does not favor racial preferences for blacks. His name evokes contempt in churches, barber shops, gyms, or any other place blacks gather. Black commentator Julianne Malveaux once said of him, “I hope his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early, like many black men do, of heart disease.”
Donna Brazile, also black, who managed Al Gore’s presidential campaign in 2000, explains that “there’s so much animosity and hatred toward Clarence Thomas as someone who has betrayed the race.” Abigail Johnson, a retired educator in Savannah, Georgia, once recognized Justice Thomas chatting with friends in a public library in Savannah. She approached them and announced, “I just wanted to see what a group of Uncle Toms looks like,” and walked away. Black essayist Debra Dickerson, who has some sympathy for Justice Thomas, says he “is the lowest of the low in sort of official blackdom.” Emerge, a black-oriented magazine that has since disappeared, put Justice Thomas on its cover twice — once as a lawn jockey and once in an Aunt Jemima-style head scarf. Ebony refuses to include Justice Thomas in its list of 100 most influential blacks.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii once considered inviting Justice Thomas to take part in a debate on racial preferences, but a black member of the local ACLU board, Eric Ferrer, complained it would be like “inviting Hitler to come speak on the rights of Jews.” Former mayor of San Francisco, Willie Brown, denounced him in a speech to the Association of Black Sociologists, calling Justice Thomas “a shill and cover for the most insidious form of racism,” and said that inviting him to speak would be “legitimizing of the Ku Klux Klan.”
Five black law school professors boycotted a 2002 talk by Justice Thomas at the University of North Carolina. They had not protested a visit by the conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, but explained in a letter that with Justice Thomas it was different: In a nation “in which African Americans are disproportionately poor, undereducated, imprisoned and politically compromised, identity — racial identity — very clearly matters.” Justice Thomas was, in their view, a traitor to his race. Leonard Small knew Clarence Thomas when both were teen-agers in Pin Point, Georgia. “He not only hates himself, he hates his history,” says Mr. Small. “He wishes almost socio-pathically to be white.”
There are a few other blacks who, like Clarence Thomas, sincerely believe racial preferences are unfair, even if they benefit blacks. One is Ward Connerly, who has been fighting affirmative action for years. After guiding an anti-discrimination ballot initiative to success in California, he established the American Civil Rights Institute to try to promote similar campaigns in other states. Many blacks were furious when Mr. Connerly picked the 68th anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr. to announce formation of the group. “Dr. Martin Luther King died for Ward Connerly to even have a right to be here, to speak and to be listened to by the media,” said the Rev. Timothy Malone, a minister at the University of California at Davis. “It’s a bridge that Ward Connerly has walked across and is now trying to tear down so that others will not be able to walk across.” He added that Mr. Connerly was “spitting on the grave of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by announcing that he’s going to end the programs that (King) died for.” Mr. Connerly has drawn spite from blacks wherever he has campaigned against affirmative action.
Jesse Lee Peterson, who runs a Los Angeles boys’ home called the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (BOND), has drawn some attention as a black man who does not accept racism as an excuse for the failings of blacks. He points out:
“You have cities run by blacks — the mayor, the police chief, the city council are black; everybody and his mama, black — and I’m afraid to go out at night. Yet these cities’ leaders are still able to blame white racism for their problems. Help me on this. Why don’t blacks say: ‘You’re in control; do something’? Why do black folks continue to accept [the racism excuse]?”
Michael Eric Dyson, a black, tenured professor at the University of Pennsylvania has the typical, sneering reply: “If you’ve ever wondered what a self-hating black man who despises black culture and worships at the altar of whiteness looks like, take a gander at the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson.”
An ordinary black person minding his own business can get into trouble for not being “black enough.” Eric J. Moore, a black Milwaukee police officer, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2003, accusing his black supervisors of denying him promotions because he kept company with whites. “Upper management has made known their biases against me because of my race and association with non-blacks,” he said. He also noted that police chief and mayoral candidate Arthur L. Jones called him a “shuffling-okey-dokey-for-the-white-man type of brother,” and that his former supervisor Leslie Barber told him he would not be promoted because he “runs around here talking to those damn white people.”
Gary Franks of Connecticut was one of a very small number of black Republicans in Congress, and did not join the Black Caucus or support racial preferences. When his six years of service ended with a defeat in 1996, a black Democratic congressman from Missouri, Bill Clay, wrote a six-page letter of celebration. He called Mr. Franks “a Negro Dr. Kevorkian, a pariah who gleefully assists in suicidal conduct to destroy his own race.” Of Mr. Franks and Clarence Thomas he wrote: “The goal of this group of Negro wanderers is to maim and kill other blacks for the gratification and entertainment of — for lack of a more accurately descriptive word — ultraconservative white racists.”
What Future for Whites?
What we find among many blacks — no doubt the majority — is a view of race completely at odds with what the civil rights movement was presumably working for: the elimination of race as a relevant category in American life. White racism is commonly alleged to be the great obstacle to harmonious race relations in the United States, but whites are the only group that actually subscribes to the goal of eliminating race consciousness and that actively polices its members for signs of backsliding. If whites were the great obstacle to harmony, it would be they who unapologetically put their interests first, who fantasized about killing blacks, who vied with each other to prove they were “white enough,” and ostracized and spat upon those who were not. Instead, any white person who spoke or acted in ways blacks take for granted would be hounded out of public life and scorned in private. To understand how differently blacks and whites think about race, it is sufficient to reread any of the preceding passages and imagine the same events but with the races reversed.
Anyone who looks closely at black racial thinking and behavior cannot but conclude that 50 years after the legislated revolution of the civil rights movement, blacks are as far as ever from adopting the race-blindness that whites assume all Americans must achieve for multi-racialism to work. That is why virtually no one does look closely. Scholars and journalists alike avert their eyes from the intolerable fact that the racial group for which equality was sought so earnestly and so hopefully has not kept its end of the bargain.
There is intense, combative racial consciousness in the United States because blacks nourish it, take pride in it, find meaning in it, and despise other blacks who do not. The persistence of black racial consciousness in the face of sincere white efforts to practice race-blindness and even preferential treatment for minorities is the single greatest failure of racial liberalism, and the most certain sign that those who have promoted it do not understand human nature or the world in which we live. It is only a matter of time: Black racial consciousness — together with Hispanic and, to a lesser extent Asian consciousness — is reawakening white racial consciousness.
The behavior of non-whites not just in the United States but everywhere in the world shows that intense racial consciousness and the impulse to advance one’s own group even at the expense of others is the human norm. Whites are the only people who believe it is virtuous to sacrifice their group interests for the advantage of others. Indeed, for many whites, racial altruism has become the highest of all virtues.
This is nevertheless a very recent conviction. From the earliest contacts with non-whites until only 50 or 60 years ago, whites had a vivid sense of identity, and most could hardly imagine a world in which whites would cheerfully adopt policies that would, if left unchanged, consign their race and culture to oblivion.
Like the Communists, who initially may have truly believed that selfishness could be abolished and that humans really could live “from each according to his ability to each according to his need,” today’s white liberals are betting the future of their civilization on a mistaken view of man. Racial and group identity can no more be extirpated from the human spirit than can selfishness.
Communism staggered on for 70 years, blighting the lives of millions, before it finally collapsed. Sixty years after its official victory in the United States, racial egalitarianism is now the secular religion of whites everywhere — although not even its most fervent promoters practice in private the “diversity” they claim to love. Racial orthodoxy is like Communism under Khrushchev; practically no one really believes in it any more, but everyone must pretend to.
No one believes in it for two reasons. First, blacks and now Hispanics continue to fail in disproportionate numbers despite years of uplift that has cost billions of dollars. Second, nothing could be clearer than the fact that non-whites have not joined whites in the campaign to dismantle racial consciousness. Indeed, racial loyalty is so strong, so natural, so inevitable for them that they refuse to believe whites do not feel a race loyalty that is equally strong. Because they see the world in such vividly racial terms they cannot imagine whites could see it differently.
The endless charges of white racism and oppression that lard the speech of non-whites therefore reflect their own compulsions, not those of whites. They are attributing to whites the racial chauvinism they feel and cannot imagine we do not feel. They are accusing us of the very things they would do to us if they had the power to do it.
This is the real crisis whites face. They believed, during the “civil rights era,” that equal rights would satisfy blacks. They were wrong. Blacks were never satisfied. The most foolish whites even thought blacks would be grateful. They were never grateful. Blacks have gloried in their grievances, burnished their resentments, never moderated their demands. It should be clear to even the dullest liberal that nothing whites ever do will satisfy blacks, and that Hispanics are quickly learning to recite the same litany of constant and infinite grievance. The compulsion to take and to humiliate only grows stronger the more they take and humiliate.
Nothing suggests that the grievances of blacks and Hispanics will subside as they gain in numbers and power. They will always see whites as exploiters and criminals, even if whites are reduced to a small and powerless minority. In their view, whites will therefore always deserve whatever retribution it is within their power to exact.
In 100 years, will American whites be living as their cousins now live in Zimbabwe and South Africa? Will they be at the mercy of majorities that hate them, and tolerate them only to the extent they find them useful? Today, Robert Mugabe and Thabo Mbeki are restrained by the existence of powerful, white-majority countries. Africans, no less than American blacks and Hispanics, do not realize that whites really have lost racial consciousness, that Europe and America will not save the white tribe if the black tribes decide to ring down the curtain.
If our descendants ever face the same threat, there will be no powers to restrain an angry majority. And if our descendants ever face that threat it will be because we failed to forestall it.
[Editors Note: A version of this essay appears in Jared Taylor’s book White Identity, available for purchase here.]