Guest Post from Renee of Womanist Musings
John Derbyshire, a former writer for the conservative magazine The National Review was fired after he published a piece in Taki’s Magazine entitled: The Talk: NonBlack Version.
Derbyshire was inspired to write this article because of the
conversations that Black parents are having with their sons in the wake
of the murder of Trayvon Martin. I am going to share with a small
portion of Derbyshire’s advice to his children:
(10a) Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.
(10b) Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods.
(10c) If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some
date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that
date (neglect of that one got me the closest I have ever gotten to death by gunshot).
(10d) Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks.
(10e) If you are at some public event at which the number of blacks suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.
(10f) Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians.
(10g) Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white.
(10h) Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.
(10i) If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving.
(11) The mean intelligence of blacks is much lower than for whites. The least intelligent ten percent of whites have IQs below 81; forty percent of blacks have IQs that low. Only one black in six is more intelligent than the average white; five whites out of six are more intelligent than the average black. These differences show in every test
of general cognitive ability that anyone, of any race or nationality,
has yet been able to devise. They are reflected in countless everyday situations. “Life is an IQ test.”
(12) There is a magnifying effect here, too, caused by
affirmative action. In a pure meritocracy there would be very low
proportions of blacks in cognitively demanding jobs. Because of
affirmative action, the proportions are higher. In government work, they
are very high. Thus, in those encounters with strangers that involve cognitive engagement, ceteris paribus
the black stranger will be less intelligent than the white. In such
encounters, therefore—for example, at a government office—you will, on
average, be dealt with more competently by a white than by a black. If
that hostility-based magnifying effect (paragraph 8) is also in play,
you will be dealt with more politely, too. “The DMV lady“ is a statistical truth, not a myth.
(13) In that pool of forty million, there are nonetheless many intelligent and well-socialized blacks. (I’ll use IWSB as an ad hoc
abbreviation.) You should consciously seek opportunities to make
friends with IWSBs. In addition to the ordinary pleasures of friendship,
you will gain an amulet against potentially career-destroying
accusations of prejudice.
At first The National Review
simply tried to separate itself from Derbyshire’s article, but decided
to fire him after public outrage was evident. There have been several
articles in major news outlets like The Guardian and Huffpo, as well as commentary at CNN,
declaring Derbyshire’s piece to be racist. Anger at this piece is the
quintessential White liberal response, and comes with the added bonus of
being able to separate oneself from Derbyshire and declare that since
you would never dare to express these kinds of idea publicly that you
are not a racist.
It is absolutely impossible to read even a small section of The Talk: NonBlack Version,
without declaring it racist. Socially there is very rarely difficulty
calling out the extreme overt examples of racism, in large part because
racism has come to mean to many: A noose, a burning cross, brilliant
White sheets and in some cases the N word [note: I say some cases, as
there are plenty of White people who actively believe that they are
oppressed, because of an inability to use that word without facing some
form of social censure]. What gets ignored is the systemic ways in
which racism works and the everyday acts of covert racism that
negatively impact the lives of people of colour.
Challenging racism as an institution is beyond the understanding and
desire of many, because it would mean the eradication of White
privilege. They would rather live in a world in which they can co-opt
pre 1963 Dr. King, and wax poetically about a colour blind society,
while our children are being undereducated in broken down schools, and
shot for daring to wear a hoodie at night. This is the world as it
really is, and why I simply cannot take comfort in any kind of
discipline that Derbyshire is facing.
Reading his article, what I felt was not outrage, because this is
exactly the kind of thought pattern and behaviour that Whiteness has
normalized. People are simply upset that Derbyshire had the nerve to
air his dirty laundry in public, rather than internalizing his racist
ideas. The world is still very much segregated, with Sunday being the
most segregated day in North America. If you doubt that, walk into a
Black church and then a White church. Blacks and Whites who supposedly
worship the same God don’t even pray together, and yet we are told that
racism is a thing of the past and that we are all equal now, with
exception of course, of a few isolated incidents. White on Black
violence, even when it is continually perpetrated by the police, is
always constructed as isolated, [Oscar Grant and Sean Bell] because
White people are individuals, but the moment a Black person behaves in a
manner which we have deemed socially unacceptable, ze is suddenly a
representative of their race.
To bring up the systemic ways in which racism effects the lives of
people of colour is deemed racist because interjects the much taboo
subject of race into a conversation. We cannot even talk about racism,
except to view it as a thing of the past, and yet we have White liberal
after White liberal decrying the language Derbyshire used, while not
holding themselves accountable for the multitude of ways in which they
uphold and maintain White supremacy. Today, racism is seen as a card
that Blacks employ to achieve an unfair advantage over decent God
fearing White folks. The conversation has been so twisted that we now
have White people claiming that they are victims of racism, when people
of colour react with righteous rage to the ongoing assault against their
It’s easy to call Derbyshire a racist, and that is why it is happening.
If it meant a true assault on White supremacy, what you would be
hearing right now is crickets and not outrage. Nothing this man wrote
in his column is in the least bit surprising. I found that I could not
even drum up outrage, because I am so accustomed to living with this
sort of racism day after day. Whether it is the White person who seeks
to turn me into their very own Black BFF [yes we’re collectors items],
or commentary on how “articulate” I am — racism is a part of my lived
experience — and has been since I was a very young girl. No amount of
liberal hand wringing is going to change that and so I will just nod at
the commentary and accept that there will be no substantive change in my
lifetime. Today it’s not the Derbyshire’s of the world that we have to
fear, but those who declare themselves to be decidedly not racist, even
as they do everything in their power to ensure that yet another
generation of Black children grows up with the stigma of being “othered”
in a White supremacist world.