“American cities should burn to the ground in revenge for the death of George Floyd.”
When this sentiment came through my Facebook feed, I checked the home address of the poster. “Zelda,” the lovely white woman who wishes to witness American cities succumb to a bloodthirsty holocaust of vengeance, hails from Palos Verdes Estates, California. Her hometown was “master-planned by the noted American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted” In this majority white city, the median income is $171,328. “Palos Verdes is particularly well known for its high-performing schools.”
I lived under Soviet Communism in my parents’ homelands of Poland and Czechoslovakia. I stood in line for lard and I met people who had been tortured for thoughtcrimes. I’ve worked in Nepal and the Central African Republic, two of the world’s poorest nations. I currently live in Paterson, a majority-minority city, where the median income is $34,000. To me, America, with all its flaws, and my life, with all its limitations, are blessed. Zelda’s desire to see her own country incinerated is incomprehensible.
Liberals in academia and on mainstream and social media describe America as a “systemically racist” wasteland. Anyone who isn’t supportive of Black Lives Matter is a white supremacist who either despises, or simply doesn’t care about, black people.
In my college teacher-training program, I had to read bestselling author Jonathan Kozol, who calls America “an apartheid state,” greedy, selfish, and racist, populated by privileged whites who callously and selfishly cause black suffering. In his book Tears We Cannot Stop, bestselling author and Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson recommends that whites pay for black people’s purchases, including their massages and zoo admission tickets.
On Facebook, I attempted to share alternative, conservative points of view. One respondent said that I was “masterbating” (sic) I received this private message, no capitalization, no punctuation: “you are a racist piece of shit.” The sender then blocked me, so that I could not respond. A Facebook friend who shows pedigree dogs called me “abhorrent” and said she’d never speak to me again. On the page of famed illustrator Mary Engelbreit, I pointed out that the “Hands up; don’t shoot” narrative Engelbreit supports through illustrations like this one is false. Engelbreit blocked me.
“Never say die” is my motto, so here, again, I offer my Black Lives Matter Reading List.
Joshua Kaplowitz, City Journal
His ancestors’ suffering in pogroms inspired Joshua Kaplowitz to decline a job with Al Gore and to join Teach for America. “I didn’t want to devote my life to helping the rich get richer … My doctor parents had drummed into me … a strong sense of social justice. I couldn’t help feeling guilty dismay when I thought of the millions of kids who’d never even tasted the great teaching … I had seen signs of inner-city blight … the bulletproof glass at the Kentucky Fried Chicken.” He saw himself “as a white knight coming in and rescuing these kids.”
Teach for America trained novice Kaplowitz, not through classroom-ready pedagogic techniques, but through indoctrination in white guilt. Kaplowitz had to spend “hours” in “The Privilege Walk.” Participants line up and then step out of line, in front of others, for every privilege group they belonged to. White? Take that step of shame. Heterosexual? Publicly emphasize your “cis-gender” stigma. Any volunteer in the Teach for American training who expressed conservative views was “threatened with expulsion.”
Once Kaplowitz arrived at his assigned school, one teacher’s aide, in front of Kaplowitz’s class, threatened to “kick your white ass.” Kaplowitz’s principal did not reprimand this aide. Principal Savoy explicitly ordered Kaplowitz to pass failing students. When he refused to do so, Savoy formally cited him for “insubordination.” One student, Raynard Ware, disrupted class by punching others and throwing things. Ware made a false assault accusation, and his mother sued. She would eventually receive $90,000. Kaplowitz was arrested and had to spend 9-11 in jail. He left teaching with a potentially life-destroying cloud over his head: named child abuser in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit. Kaplowitz believed his life was “ruined.” Friends rejected him. He lost jobs. When he met the woman who would become his wife, she had the “awkward duty” of informing her parents of the accusation. In the age of Google, they also had to inform prospective professional contacts. It took Kaplowitz “four or five years” to get over the “funk.”
Yes, there are plenty of better-off white people, mindful of the persecution their own ancestors faced, who are willing to put their careers on the line to contribute to a better America for all. These would-be “knights” confront barbed wire that injures them and those they want to help, and that barbed wire is woven from liberal attitudes and polices. Kaplowitz was undone by an administration that refused to hold black students to the same behavioral or academic standards that white or Asian students must meet. When he attempted to guide his students to achievement, his “white ass” was threatened and he was told to falsify records. Barbed wire nicked and scarred Kaplowitz, but it has come close to destroying far too many black lives.
In 2015, Kaplowitz published an update in the Washington Post. Raynard Ware, now a college student, sent him a Facebook friend request. In their subsequent exchange, Kaplowitz learned more. Ware’s father, Joseph Ware, was “never really around.” He was a drug user and dealer who choked to death on pepper spray during a robbery. Ware’s mother had other children by other men. Ware had been labeled “special needs.” A neighbor called him “retarded.” His mother, in her own words, “used to have to punch him in the chest when he was little because he was off the chain.”
In 2019, Ware composed a poignant piece for Medium. Ware reports that he sometimes sits “unproductively, reminiscing about growing up as a special education student … I was not completely prepared for college … I noticed holes in my education … such as, not knowing the correct grammatical usage for ‘effect’ and ‘affect’ … Identifying my weaknesses and shortcomings” was a necessary trait.
Ware’s Medium piece is excellent. Before I upvoted it, it had received no votes, and no comments. If Ware had posted a rap song calling for riots, I’m sure he would have received upvotes. You can read, below, Orlando Patterson’s thoughts on what behaviors liberal whites reward African Americans for exhibiting. Hint: liberal whites may be slow to reward African Americans for keeping their nose to the grindstone and following rules.
What about the teachers who, unlike Kaplowitz, manage to stick it out till retirement?
* “Teacher Describes an American High School: ‘Chaos‘” – Choice Media YouTube video.
Lee McNulty spent twenty-seven years teaching in Paterson, New Jersey. After he retired, he felt freed up to tell his story. “Gangs of kids roam the building … They’ll walk into the classroom … and just start a fight in that class … Our school is an indoor street corner. When I walk in that building, I have no idea anymore of right and wrong.” At John F. Kennedy High School, students beat not just each other, but also their teachers, as in this video of a 62-year-old teacher being assaulted by a student.
Teachers, McNulty says, echoing Kaplowitz, are prevented by the administration from accurately recording student academic performance or behavior. Accurate records would interfere with performance bonuses. In 2014, the year McNulty exposed how he was forced to falsify attendance records, and also in 2018, Superintendent Donnie W. Evans received a c. $11,000 bonus for “increased graduation rates,” in addition to his $218,000 salary. He received this bonus even as, McNulty alleges, students can “graduate,” as they rack up numerous absences, fail to do work, and have sex in the hallways. McNulty’s video was posted in 2014. That year, nineteen high school students in Paterson, NJ, were college-ready. That’s in a city of 145,000.
McNulty and Kaplowitz are both white. Zelda would probably insist that their accounts are merely reflections of their unconscious white supremacy. Let’s hear from a black teacher.
* “Explaining the Black Education Gap.” John H. McWhorter Wilson Quarterly.
John McWhorter’s “Explaining the Black Education Gap” is one of the bravest pieces of writing you will ever read. McWhorter takes on a raw, ugly, and gaping wound: the achievement gap. Year after year, African Americans score at the bottom of standardized tests of academic achievement. Students with ancestry from Confucius-influenced countries like Japan, China, and Korea, score at the top; whites, Hispanics, and African Americans follow, in that order.
Liberal authors like Kozol attribute the achievement gap to racist, selfish, greedy white Americans who deprive blacks of education. In Kozol’s view, blacks are all but powerless and without responsibility or agency. Whites must undergo an almost born-again event and rescue blacks. Kozol wants the state to create “Utopian children’s villages” that provide every child, from age two on up, with counseling, HVAC, housing, food, medical care, their own bedroom, and legal aid.
McWhorter, on the other hand, says that “students in other minority groups with similar vulnerabilities still manage to make excellent grades … The chief cause is not racism, inadequate school funding, class status, parental education level, or any other commonly cited factor, but … anti-intellectualism that plagues the black community … perpetuated by the powerful strand of separatism in black culture … that rejects as illegitimate all things ‘white’ … school and books are seen as suspicious and alien things that no authentically black person would embrace … this attitude goes unrecognized because of the widespread insistence on viewing blacks as victims.”
McWhorter is not the first to advance this thesis. His predecessor, whom he cites and credits, was John Ogbu, a Nigerian-born American anthropologist. Ogbu and his colleague Signithia Fordham wrote of African Americans’ “oppositional culture,” that is, a culture that defines itself in opposition to the mainstream. African Americans, they wrote, condemned their peers who engaged in “acting white,” that is, adopting mainstream values and behaviors.
McWhorter reports that his Berkeley students were not impoverished denizens of the underclass, but upwardly mobile blacks. They participated eagerly in telling personal tales of being discriminated against, but when it came time to assimilate knowledge about persons unlike themselves, they resisted. Black students let each other know that it disqualified them from group membership to engage in “nerdy thinking … new ways of thinking and close engagement with the written word …[or] openness, a sense of integral commitment and belonging to the world of the school.” To “embrace school” would “signal disloyalty, even treachery.”
McWhorter reports that his very first memory, from when he was only three years old, is of being physically struck and mocked by other, older black kids because he could spell.
McWhorter rejects the racism explanation as “infantilizing” blacks. He invokes Chinese-Americans and Jews, who also experienced discrimination, and who score at the top of the charts. He cites Caribbean blacks and recent arrivals from Africa, who also do well in school. In fact, according to one study, foreign-born blacks earn thirty percent more than American-born blacks. The success of foreign-born blacks would suggest to any reasonable person that the liberal argument that contemporary white racism is the sole place to look for the source of American-born blacks’ misfortunes is a flawed approach.
Teacher Alex Bensky, in a Facebook post, offered an anecdote from his days in the 1980s teaching near Watts.
“The day before grades were distributed, in each class, one or two black kids would approach me quietly and ask me to give them C’s although they had earned B’s. The students would be pressured to show each other their report cards. The ones who got good grades would be harassed, sometimes physically. Some students asked not to be called on in class too often because again, if they showed they were good students, they’d have problems.”
But Kaplowitz, McNulty, McWhorter and Bensky offer anecdotes. Are there statistical analyses to back them up?
* No Excuses. Closing the Racial Gap in Learning. Stephan Thernstrom and Abigail Thernstrom 2004.
Husband-and-wife team Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom focus on numbers. Spending? There is not a huge spending gap between majority-minority schools and predominantly white schools, per pupil. The problem, they argue, is “values, habits, and skills.” Black students, they claim, are “far more likely to break school rules, disrupting their own and their classmates’ education.” At home, black kids spend more time watching TV, and less time reading. Their answer? “civility, hard work, and high standards,” most likely to be fostered in charter schools. Schools need to teach African American students, she writes, “how to look at people straight in the eye when they’re talking to them, how to shake hands, how to show respect for teachers and classmates when they’re talking to them, how to talk quietly in the lunchroom, how to get to school on time, dress for success.”
Thernstrom knew that she would be accused of racism. She didn’t care. She cared about the students’ futures. She and her husband were told, she said, that “We’re interfering with the culture of the students; we’re showing disrespect for habits.” These very habits, she said, “are going to be disastrous as these students get older.”
Well, isn’t this all very convenient for white folk, Zelda may be thinking. Let’s blame the victim. Let’s blame black people for their own suffering. In fact, that’s not the case at all. There are plenty of indictments of whites on the Black Lives Matter Bookshelf.
* “A Poverty of the Mind” – Orlando Patterson New York Times.
Patterson asks why young black males are in so much trouble at the same time that they are so highly valued by the wider culture in music, style, and sports. He concludes that young black males are rewarded by whites for being oppositional, criminal, rule-breakers. White kids dally with oppositional culture, but, when it’s time to apply their nose to the grindstone, the whites move on. The nineteenth-century word “slumming” works here. Better-off whites stick their toes in the slum for drugs, hip-hop, a frisson of danger and a “walk on the wild side.” Then they go home.
Patterson writes, “it was almost like a drug, hanging out on the street after school, shopping and dressing sharply, sexual conquests, party drugs, hip-hop music and culture, the fact that almost all the superstar athletes and a great many of the nation’s best entertainers were black … Not only was living this subculture immensely fulfilling … it also brought [young black men] a great deal of respect from white youths … young black men and women tend to have the highest levels of self-esteem of all ethnic groups, and their self-image is independent of how badly they do in school … [this subculture] has powerful support from some of America’s largest corporations. Hip-hop, professional basketball and homeboy fashions are as American as cherry pie. Young white Americans are very much into these things, but selectively; they know when it is time to turn off Fifty Cent and get out the SAT prep book.”
White Americans urging African Americans to play the role of needy, oppressed, violent revolutionary is a motif in online videos about recent unrest. See, for example, a white woman lecture Nestride Yumga that she is oppressed, a black woman scold white people for distributing bricks to blacks to use in a riot, a 56-year-old black man in Rochester, NY, telling white reporters that he is afraid of being shot by a black man, and that the reporters should cover black-on-black crime, Bevelyn Beatty telling a largely white crowd that she opposes their destroying businesses during BLM riots, a black woman who self-identifies as having “served this country for ten years” screaming at white boys destroying her neighborhood, a compilation of videos of blacks telling whites not to be violent, a black woman in Seattle asking a white woman, “How did Black Lives Matter turn into LGBTQ? We don’t support that,” and Candace Owens setting Zelda’s hair on fire.
* “Speech to NAACP” – Jeremiah Wright.
Jeremiah Wright gained fame in 2008. He was Barack Obama’s pastor, and he gave a sermon saying “Not God bless America; God damn America.” In his April, 2008 speech to the NAACP, this influential person summed up the leftist ideology that contributed to the above-described double standards that have devastated countless lives. Abigail Thernstrom said that by asking black students to meet the same behavioral and academic standards expected of whites and Asians, she was “interfering with black students’ culture.” Kaplowitz and McNulty were expressly told to falsify records. Such blame and lowered standards are articulated exactly in Wright’s NAACP speech.
Wright says that African American children are “apples” and white children are “rocks.” Reading and writing are “meaningless.” A better gauge of knowledge is black kids’ facility with hip hop lyrics. White children are “left-brained.” Black children are “right-brained.” In school, “black kids wouldn’t stay in their place. Over there behind the desk, black kids climbed up all on them … they come from a right-brained creative oral culture like the griots in Africa who can go for two or three days as oral repositories of a people’s history.” Further, white people “clap in a different way.”
This racist speech by a powerful man to a powerful organization demonstrates one of the roadblocks faced by the educators described above. If Kaplowitz, McWhorter, or McNulty tried to require their students to master subject matter, and meet the same behavioral standards as white or Asian students, the ideas expressed in this speech would stand in their way. Any such demands are racist. The white teachers making such demands suffer from “implicit bias;” the black teachers making such demands are “Uncle Toms” and suffer from “internalized racism.” Black kids are to be encouraged to clap their own way. Thanks in no small part to liberal approaches and policies, a black child can graduate high school without mastering basic subject matter in mathematics or history, and, in many cases, without being able to read. What happens to that black student after graduation? Abigail Thernstrom, a conservative, cared about that young person’s fate. Does Zelda care? I am not at all sure.
* “The Affirmative Action Myth” – Marie Gryphon. Cato Institute.
Gryphon’s seventeen-page exposé of Affirmative Action is a heartbreaking, enraging read. Long story short: liberals who wanted to “help” ended up sabotaging black students in multiple ways. American high schools do not adequately prepare black students for college. Placing, through Affirmative Action programs, underprepared black students in competitive colleges frustrates, humiliates, and sabotages these students. They are likely to drop out; if they do graduate, it will be near the bottom of their class. They will not earn more than their peers who attended less-competitive colleges.
Affirmative Action hurts black students all the way down the ladder, through the ratchet effect. High-achieving black high schoolers are vacuumed up by the best schools, like Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. These same schools are rejecting disproportionate numbers of high-achieving white and Asian students. Those white and Asian students end up in less competitive schools, along with the lowest-achieving black students. So, in most, non-Ivy-League American colleges right now, the least-prepared black students are sitting in the same classrooms with the best prepared white and Asian students. This tense disconnect is not helpful to black students or to better race relations. It exacerbates other consequences of Affirmative Action, including stereotype threat. Peers suspect that black students are on campus because of preferences, not ability. Black students internalize this stereotype threat, and, as studies show, it diminishes their performance.
Another problem. Less-prepared black students are swept up by the best law schools, where they cannot compete and drop out. Had they not been recruited by top schools, they might have gone to less-competitive law schools, finished, and become lawyers. At least one scholar argues that there are fewer, not more, black lawyers directly because of Affirmative Action.
* “Black Fathers Matter” – Larry Elder, Prager University.
“The Fracking Boom, a Baby Boom, and the Retreat From Marriage” – Freakonomics Radio.
“How Not to Be Poor” – Walter E. Williams.
Author, attorney, and radio and TV personality Larry Elder’s “Black Fathers Matter” is only five minutes long, but if it doesn’t change Zelda’s mind, she’s not paying attention. Elder argues that between white racism and the absence of black fathers, the latter is the bigger threat. Elder convincingly argues that the proximate eraser of black fatherhood is liberal policies meant to save black people.
An overwhelming amount of research demonstrates that the presence of the child’s biological father in the home benefits the child. Children growing up without their biological father are more likely to be poor, abused, in jail, to fail school, to take drugs, and to attempt suicide. Today, 77% of black babies are born to single mothers. Elder points out that black nuclear families were more likely to be intact in the past. What happened? Elder blames Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs. After the War on Poverty, women married Uncle Sam; the government, not the father, provided for the family. Contrary to the argument of liberals like Kozol, Dyson, and Wright, the problem is not greedy, selfish, racist white Americans. In fact, Elder says, Americans had spent, as of 2016, $20 trillion taxpayer dollars in programs like Food Stamps and welfare. The welfare state, he says, did not wipe out poverty, but it came all too close to wiping out the black family. Until we have a government program that makes family unity a priority, nothing will change, Elder predicts.
The left’s dismantling of the nuclear family continues from LBJ to today. Obama’s 2012 “Julia” ad typifies it. The ad follows Julia as she proceeds through life’s milestones. She never marries, though. “Like a growing number of single women with children, Julia is married to the state” she lives a “life of endless government dependency,” wrote Jessica Gavora in the Washington Post. Interestingly, Gavora points out, once divorced Democratic women remarry, they tend to switch to voting Republican. Statistics suggest that Democrats have a vested interest in keeping single mothers single, and on welfare. “Boldly and openly, unmarried American women are being encouraged to substitute a relationship with a spouse [and their child’s father] for one with the state.” Kids, primarily black kids, pay the price.
Freakonomics Radio featured economics professor Melissa Kearney’s work on marriage, family, and poverty. She, too, argues, based on statistics, that marriage benefits children. “Poverty and family structure are very intertwined in this country. If you’re thinking about the economic well-being of children in particular, it’s really hard not to be interested in questions of family structure … Kids who are being born to less-educated, single moms are falling farther and farther behind.”
Walter E. Williams, the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University, in his stunningly frank piece “How Not to Be Poor,” lists as his number two step to avoiding poverty and its attendant woes, is to “get married before you have children, and stay married.” According to the 1999 Bureau of Census report, “Among black households that included a married couple, over 50 percent were middle class earning above $50,000, and 26 percent earned more than $75,000.”
“A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle,” the left told us. Family is whatever we say it is, they told us. Children, especially black children, paid the price for that liberal message.
Riley lists one liberal program after another, including Affirmative Action, soft-on-crime approaches, and resistance to school choice, that are meant to help black people, but that end up hurting them.
Riley cites statistics from Thomas Sowell that strongly support Elder’s assertion that the Great Society had a negative impact on blacks. He quotes the 1913 edition of the Negro Almanac, which compared the progress of freed American slaves with serfs in the Russian empire, who had been emancipated in the same decade as American slaves. “Fourteen million former serfs had accumulated some $500 million, or $36 per capita, and 30 percent could read and write. By comparison, after fifty years of freedom ‘the 10 million Negroes in the United States have accumulated over $700,000,000 worth of property, or about $70 per capita,’ the almanac reported, using Census data, and ’70 percent of them have some education in books’ … From 1940 to 1950 the earnings of Black workers tripled … Between 1939 and 1960, median incomes for black men rose from $460 to $3,075, or by 568.5 percent. For white men, they grew from $1,112 to $5,137, or by 362 percent over the same period.”
Zelda likes to insist that America is the worst, most oppressive country in the world. Zelda’s rhetoric has been a boon for Iran and other oppressive nations. Iran is hosting an art exhibit depicting the US and Israel as oppressive monsters. When Zelda screams about how racist America is, I want to ask her, “Compared to what, exactly? China puts Uighurs in concentration camps. In India there are 100 million Untouchables. In Tanzania, albinos hide for fear that their body parts will be amputated for use in magic spells. The Muslim world imposes dhimmitude on Christians and Jews.”
Riley’s comparison of the rise of freed slaves and my ancestors, Slavic serfs, is much more instructive than Zelda’s quintessential, distorting, leftist tactic of selective outrage, of focusing on American racism, while ignoring injustice in any other country – and also ignoring any progress America has made in living up to her ideals.
Riley continues. “The progress of blacks after leaving slavery and prior to the civil rights legislation of the 1960s doesn’t receive a lot of attention because it undermines a prevailing and politically useful narrative on the left.” What is that narrative? That black people require Zelda to pity them and rescue them.
But, Riley says, the Great Society programs did not rescue black people. Riley quotes Thomas Sowell. The “rise of blacks into professional and other high-level occupation was greater in the years preceding passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 than in the years following the passage of that act … Similarly, and despite a widespread tendency to see the rise of blacks out of poverty as due to the civil rights movement and government social programs of the 1960s, in reality the rise of blacks out of poverty was greater in the two decades preceding 1960 than the decades that followed … the poverty rate among blacks had been nearly cut in half before either the civil rights revolution or the Great Society social programs began in the 1960s.”
Zelda, black people don’t need you.
* “An Open Letter to Ta-Nahesi Coates” – Freedom Center Shillman Fellow, Dr. Jason D. Hill (pictured above).
Google “Ta-Nehisi Coates” and “site:edu” and get about 19,000 results. Perform the same search with “Jason D. Hill” and get about a thousand results. Colleges are teaching their students Ta-Nehisi Coates’ message: America is a racist wasteland. Students are not hearing what Jason D. Hill has to say.
Ta-Nehisi Coates was born to a Black Panther publisher father and a teacher mother. He attended highly-rated Howard University and the highly selective Middlebury College, and has been working for the Atlantic, a prestigious publication, at least since he was 33. He’s a MacArthur Genius Award winner of $625,000, and a National Book Award winner. America exists, he writes, “to destroy the black body … The American Dream is the enemy … White America is a syndicate arrayed to protect its exclusive power to dominate and control our bodies … The problem with the police is not that they are fascists pigs, but that our country is ruled by majoritarian pigs.”
Jason D. Hill took Ta-Nehisi Coates head-on. “The dream is real,” Hill insists. “I write as a black immigrant who chose to live in the United States, whose biggest hope as a child was to become an American citizen, and who chose to embrace the American Dream you condemn, please consider these words my Declaration of Independence – an independence that only my beloved America could have given to me … [arrival in America was] the first of my true and authentic life … I was a gay man escaping the blight of Jamaican homophobia. And I knew that in America I could find peace and true love and be left alone to pursue my dream.”
Hill’s road to success was not quite as smooth or rapid as Coates’. “I worked up to 45 hours a week, sometimes juggling three jobs at once, while attending university full-time and then earning a scholarship to complete my Ph.D. … I found other dreamers – immigrants … who, like me, worked hard and graduated magna cum laude from their universities … [one friend was] a young Vietnamese man with whom I worked while stuffing envelopes in a bank to pay my way through college … There was Vanessa, a tall, deeply black-skinned woman who had fled Trinidad because she was too dark-skinned to feel welcomed there; Rema, a young woman from Iran who had escaped when her family, finding out she was a lesbian, sent her to America for her own protection; Dinesh, a very dark-skinned 19-year-old from India who was regarded as a Dalit, or Untouchable, in his country and whom everyone in our circle of friends – Southern white, black, and foreigners from all over the world – embraced as an equal.”
Hill observes that Coates has effectively castrated his own son by drilling into the child that his homeland is an omnipotent monster that will destroy him because he is black. Hill points out that his immigrant companions, of many races, have managed to forge their own lives in America no matter what any racist might think of them.
With freedom and agency, Hill insists, comes responsibility. Coates’ “abnegation of personal responsibility assumes its logical end in your failure to grant black people responsibility for their own lives in the phenomenon of black-on-black crime.” Hill accuses Coates of running a scam in order to shake whites down for money. “You are trading on black suffering to create a perpetual caste of racial innocents. And the currency of your economic system is white guilt.”
In the 1960s, in the men’s room of a large hotel, a well-dressed black man saw a white businessman leave a one-dollar tip in the plate of the restroom attendant, a black man. The black observer remarked that this was a small tip for such a lousy job. The white businessman took back the single and took out a five. The black observer went on. He talked passionately about how much black people suffer in America. “My father never had a chance,” he said, close to tears. “He never had a f—ing chance. Your father had all the goddamn chances. You know he did. All because you’re white.” The businessman put away the five dollar bill, put a twenty in the plate, and went on his way. This prostitution of black suffering in exchange for a white man’s money, Steele writes, brought the speaker “as much shame as he was passing out.”
A different scene, a college campus. A young black man is leading a protest into the office of a college president. The student is smoking. There is an expensive carpet on the floor, and no ashtray. As ashes fall to the carpet, the president rises, wanting to say, Hey, don’t drop your ashes on my carpet. The president stops. He realizes something. He silences himself. What he realizes is that if he criticizes a black man in public, he will be called a racist, and that accusation will destroy his career.
In anecdotes like this, told in his elegant prose, Shelby Steele exposes how rich, white liberals may have convinced themselves that they are all about the struggle, but they are really all about maintaining their superior position. They exploit black people’s pain to advance their own status as compassionate saviors. Doing, so, they have created a country where black people cannot be held to the same standards as whites, and where black people must always look to rich, white liberals for their deliverance, rather than their own agency.
In response to the reaction to the death of George Floyd, Steele said, “We live in a white guilt world. Does Joe Biden really, deeply care about black Americans, or is he using our pain as an advertisement of our own moral vanity? Moral vanity that he can translate into votes to get him elected? Does he know anything at all, really, about the difficulties that black Americans face, many of which have nothing in the world to do with racism? The white guilt exploitation of black pain is not dissimilar to what segregation did. It also exploited blacks, in a much more obvious way.
“We blacks end up dependent on the Democratic Party and American liberalism. We are trained and encouraged to see our opportunity through them. We have to pressure them and get them to make our lives better. It’s not something we do ourselves … We are a great people and we have to be the engineers, the agents, of our fate. We need to stop soliciting the Joe Bidens of the world in the corrupt symbiosis of white guilt … Segregation is over … There are opportunities everywhere. We’ve got to get past dwelling in our history of victimization. We’ve got to move into freedom. It’s right there in front of us. It breaks my heart to see angry young people in Black Lives Matter. Your contribution to your race is what you make of yourself.”
Steele’s insightful prose springs to mind when watching a recent video of a man telling white people at a Seattle CHAZ event that they must approach an African American person and give him or her ten dollars. If they don’t do that, they are revealing, he says, that they aren’t really “down with the struggle” or “willing to give up power, land, and capital.” “White people, I see you. I see every single one of you, and I remember your faces. You find that African American persona and you give them ten dollars.”
* “Are the Police Racist?” – Heather Mac Donald, Prager University.
“An Empirical Analysis of Racial Differences in Police Use of Force” – Roland G. Fryer, Jr.
“Officer Characteristics and Racial Disparities in Fatal Officer-Involved Shootings” by David J. Johnson, Trevor Tress, Nicole Burkel, Carley Taylor, and Joseph Cesario, summarized here “Our Database of Police Officers in Fatal Shootings Reveals Who Shot Citizens: White Officers Are Not More Likely to Fatally Shoot Minority Civilians Compared to Black or Hispanic Officers.”
“Racist Police Violence Reconsidered.” – John McWhorter.
Zelda, you’ve been tearing your own country apart over a lie. There is no epidemic of white police officers shooting unarmed black men. Read the above sources. Then we can talk.
Cornell law professor William A. Jacobson reports that merely because he has stated these truths about Black Lives Matter, leftists are trying to get him fired. No, there is no truth to the “Hands up; don’t shoot” narrative. No, rioting and looting will not help black people. The left’s totalitarian tactics of silencing thoughtcrimes does not encourage me to hope that you will read any of this material, most of it written by real, live, black people. For that, I weep.
Danusha Goska is the author of God through Binoculars: A Hitchhiker at a Monastery