Features, Hypothesis, Politics, Social Science, Top 10 of 2018

The Racism Treadmill

The prevailing view among progressives today is that America hasn’t made much progress on racism. While no one would argue that abolishing slavery and dissolving Jim Crow weren’t good first steps, the progressive attitude toward such reforms is nicely summarized by Malcolm X’s famous quip, “You don’t stick a knife in a man’s back nine inches and then pull it out six inches and say you’re making progress.” Aside from outlawing formalized bigotry, many progressives believe that things haven’t improved all that much. Racist attitudes towards blacks, if only in the form of implicit bias, are thought to be widespread; black men are still liable to be arrested in a Starbucks for no good reason; plus we have a president who has found it difficult to denounce neo-Nazis. If racism still looms large in our social and political lives, then, as one left-wing commentator put it, “progress is debatable.”

But the data take a clear side in that debate. In his controversial bestseller Enlightenment Now, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker notes a steep decline in racism. At the turn of the 20th century, lynchings occurred at a rate of three per week. Now, racially-motivated killings of blacks occur at a rate of zero to one per year.1 What’s more, racist attitudes that were once commonplace have now become fringe. A Gallup poll found that only 4 percent of Americans approved of marriages between blacks and whites in 1958. By 2013, that number had climbed to 87 percent, prompting pollsters to call it “one of the largest shifts of public opinion in Gallup history.” 

Why can’t progressives admit that we’ve made progress? Pinker’s answer for what he dubs “progressophobia” is two-fold. First, our intuitions about whether trends have increased or decreased are shaped by what we can easily recall—news items, shocking events, personal experience, etc. Second, we are more sensitive to negative stimuli than we are to positive ones. These two bugs of human psychology—called the availability bias and the negativity bias, respectively—make us prone to doomsaying, inclined to mistake freak news events for trends, and blind to the slow march of progress.

But while psychological biases may sufficiently explain progressophobia on most other topics, our denialism about racial progress calls for a deeper explanation—an explanation in terms of widely-held beliefs about race and inequality.

One such belief is the notion that disparities between blacks and whites—in income, housing, employment, etc.—are caused by systemic racism. The award-winning writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, for instance, summed up the state of racial progress like so: “I could see that some fifty years after the civil rights movement black people could still be found at the bottom of virtually every socioeconomic metric of note.”2 Ibram X. Kendi, another celebrated race writer, put it bluntly: “As an anti-racist, when I see racial disparities, I see racism.”

But the premise built into the thinking of Coates and Kendi is false. I call it the disparity fallacy. The disparity fallacy holds that unequal outcomes between two groups must be caused primarily by discrimination, whether overt or systemic. What’s puzzling about believers in the disparity fallacy is not that they apply the belief too broadly, but that they apply it too narrowly. Any instance of whites outperforming blacks is adduced as evidence of discrimination. But when a disparity runs the other way—that is, blacks outperforming whites—discrimination is never invoked as a causal factor.

Here’s a clear example of the disparity fallacy: a recent study by researchers at Stanford, Harvard, and the Census Bureau found that, “[a]mong those who grow up in families with comparable incomes, black men grow up to earn substantially less than the white men.” A New York Times article attributed this disparity to “the punishing reach of racism for black boys.” But the study also found that black women have higher college attendance rates than white men, and higher incomes than white women, conditional on parental income. The fact that black women outperformed their white counterparts on these measures, however, was not attributed to the punishing reach of racism against whites.

Economic disparities that favor blacks have been reported for decades, yet they have rarely if ever been attributed to anti-white systemic bias. A 1994 New York Times article reported that, among college graduates, black women earned slightly more money than white women did. In addition, the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out that, as early as 1980, U.S. census data show black college-educated couples out-earning their white counterparts.3

The black/white unemployment gap provides an even older illustration of the disparity fallacy. Many commentators have reflexively attributed the modern unemployment gap to systemic racism. But in historical eras with far more racism, the gap was reversed. According to Sowell, “[b]lack unemployment rates were lower than that of whites in 1890 and, for the last time, in 1930.”4 Facts like these, however, are never explained in terms of discrimination in favor of blacks. Indeed, why progressives only commit the disparity fallacy in one direction is never explained. What the writer Shelby Steele has said about progressives and racist events is equally true of statistical disparities that disadvantage blacks: When they learn of one, “they rent a jet plane and fly to it!”

It’s a sign of the poverty of our discourse on racial progress and inequality that the rarest findings are thought to be normal, and the most common findings are thought to require special explanation.

Indeed, it is rare to find any two ethnic groups achieving identical outcomes, even when they belong to the same race. A cursory glance at the mean incomes of census-tracked ethnic groups shows Americans of Russian descent out-earning those of Swiss descent, who out-earn those of British descent, who out-earn those of Polish descent, who out-earn those of French descent in turn. If the disparity fallacy were true, then we ought to posit an elaborate system that is biased towards ethnic Russians, then the Swiss, followed by the Brits, the Poles and the French. Yet one never hears progressives make such claims. Moreover, one never hears progressives say, “French-Americans make 79 cents for every Russian-American dollar,” although the facts could easily be framed that way. Similar disparities between blacks and whites are regularly presented in such invidious terms. Rather than defaulting to systemic bias to explain disparities, we should understand that, even in the absence of discrimination, groups still differ in innumerable ways that affect their respective outcomes.

Black Culture

One crucial way in which groups differ is culture. Culture matters enormously. The importance of culture is, ironically, a value often expressed by progressives. When presented with arguments that point to genetic influences on human behavior, many on the Left respond by emphasizing the importance of culture over genetics, that is, nurture over nature (see Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate for more.) Moreover, cultures differ from one another. This is true by definition. It’s unclear what the “multi” in “multi-culturalism” could possibly mean if cultures were all the same. Put these two premises together, and you arrive at what should be an equally banal conclusion: if culture matters enormously, and cultures differ from one another, then differences between cultures matter enormously.

But, together with the disparity fallacy, the denial of cultural explanations for disparity has become the received view among progressives. Coates, for instance, has dubbed cultural explanations of disparity “lazy.”5 Others believe such arguments to be intrinsically racist when applied to blacks. The sociologist and award-winning author Michael Eric Dyson has argued that cultural explanations of black/white disparities are seen by whites as “heroic battles against black deficiency.”6

But intuitive examples of the importance of culture are all around us. Disparities in athletic achievement, for instance, are inexplicable without reference to culture. Although blacks make up 14 percent of the U.S. population, they account for only 8 percent of MLB baseball players. This relatively small disparity has been enough to prompt articles in US News, NPR, and Vox that blame the decline in black baseball representation on everything from mass incarceration to racial bias to a generic sense among white fans that “baseball culture should stay white,” as the Vox piece summarized it.

Meanwhile, blacks account for a staggering three-fourths of all NBA basketball players, while whites account for a mere 18 percent. Curiously, progressives have not seen the under-representation of whites in basketball as requiring any explanation whatsoever. When whites are under-represented somewhere, it is assumed to be a choice or a cultural preference. But when blacks are under-represented somewhere, progressives descend on the issue like detectives to the scene of an unsolved murder, determined to consider every possible explanation except for the “lazy” one: that in black culture, basketball is more popular than baseball.

Strangely, it is only among thought-leaders that these twin dogmas—the disparity fallacy and the denial of cultural explanations—have become gospel. Black people themselves are, on the whole, open to other ways of thinking. For instance, 60 percent of blacks attribute disparities in income, jobs, and housing mainly to factors other than bias, according to a 2013 Gallup poll. A more recent Pew poll found that 60 percent of blacks without college degrees say their race hasn’t affected their chances of success in life. The belief that cultural factors don’t influence outcomes, too, seems to be the special province of progressive intellectuals. For example, when asked by Pew in 2008, 71 percent of blacks said that rap was a bad influence on society. Nevertheless, for years progressives have accused those who criticize harmful elements within black culture of “victim-blaming,” never stopping to wonder whether the supposed victims actually felt blamed by such observations.

It’s no accident that the majority of blacks don’t view racial bias as the main issue they face today. Indeed, there is reason to believe that culture, rather than bias, is the primary cause of unequal outcomes for blacks. The kind of experiment necessary to settle the question would involve taking two groups of black people, putting them in the same environment, holding every variable constant except for culture, and measuring their life outcomes. Of course, for all sorts of ethical and practical reasons, such experiments can’t be done. But history has run the experiment, however crudely and imperfectly, several times.

The first natural experiment occurred when Sowell used 1970 census data to compare the incomes of second-generation West Indian blacks and American blacks in the New York metropolitan area. Both groups would have looked and talked the same; both groups were born and educated in the same area; and both groups were trailing brutal histories of chattel slavery.

Indeed, aside from cultural differences, West Indian blacks would have been virtually indistinguishable from their American counterparts. There is no better demonstration of their superficial likeness than the fact that many prominent black leaders—including Marcus Garvey, Stokely Carmichael, Malcolm X, Harry Belafonte, and Sidney Poitier—were actually of black West Indian, not black American, ancestry.7 But despite being subjected to the same racist treatment by local whites, second-generation West Indian black families were highly successful, out-earning American black families by 58 percent, and even out-earning the national average income by 15 percent.8 Sowell’s conclusion was unequivocal: “Neither race nor racism can explain such differences.”9

The second natural experiment involves comparing the outcomes of black immigrants on the whole with the outcomes of American blacks (i.e., blacks descended from American slaves.) Although black immigrants (and especially their children, who are indistinguishable from American blacks) presumably experience the same ongoing systemic biases that black descendants of American slaves do, nearly all black immigrant groups out-earn American blacks, and many—including Ghanaians, Nigerians, Barbadians, and Trinidadians & Tobagonians—out-earn the national average. Moreover, black immigrants are overrepresented in the Ivy Leagues. Though they comprised only 8 percent of the U.S. black population in the 2010 census,10 41 percent of African Americans attending Ivy League schools were of immigrant origin in 1999. Five years later, the New York Times reported a finding by two Harvard professors that as many as two-thirds of Harvard’s black students “were West Indian and African immigrants or their children, or to a lesser extent, children of biracial couples.”

Granted, neither of these natural experiments prove that culture, specifically, caused the divergent outcomes. It’s impossible to disentangle confounding variables like immigrant self-selection, demographic differences, and other unknown factors. But the results of these natural experiments do suggest that the role of systemic bias as a causal factor in the creation of unequal outcomes has been greatly exaggerated. If systemic bias accounted for as much of the variance in success as progressives seem to think it does, then it’s unlikely that groups that experience equal amounts of systemic bias would achieve such wildly different levels of success.

Culture, however, is an intangible. “I don’t know how to measure culture…and I’m not sure anyone else does,” said a Georgetown economist quoted by Coates.11 But while it’s technically true that we can’t measure culture, this concern, like so much of progressive thinking on race, is applied selectively. Time magazine has run an article entitled “Rape Culture is Real”; The Atlantic has run articles entitled “America’s Gun-Culture Problem,” and “What Critics Don’t Understand About Gun Culture”; “Consumer Culture” is the subject of countless books and scholarly articles, and the name of a course at Cornell University. We have no problem discussing potentially negative cultural factors when the culture in question can be attributed to men, whites, or capitalism. It is only when one suggests that blacks too have cultural problems that such objections are pulled out of the ether.

One destructive feature of black culture is the conviction among many blacks, especially teenage boys, that those who achieve academic success and speak standard English are “acting white.” President Obama addressed this troubling epithet in 2004, when he called on blacks to “eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white.” Ten years later, he reiterated this criticism, adding that “the notion that there’s some authentic way of being black, that if you’re going to be black you have to act a certain way and wear a certain kind of clothes, that has to go.” The iconic rapper Jay-Z made the same point in a recent interview with Dean Baquet of the New York Times. Addressing Baquet, (who is also black) he said, “It’s O.K. to think. It’s O.K. to be smart. You know, there was a time when people was like, ‘you talkin’ white.’ It’s like, what does that even mean?…And I’m sure you’ve heard it growing up many times.”

In an economy increasingly based on cognitive labor, it’s hard to imagine a cultural feature more harmful than a socially-enforced taboo on academic striving. But worries about the harm caused by the ‘acting white’ epithet have been met with skepticism by progressives. An article in Vox called the acting white phenomenon a “myth” that could “shape attitudes about black people and perpetuate racism.” This gloomy prediction, typical of progressive styles of argumentation, was asserted without evidence.

A similar progressive arguing tactic is to set up a false dichotomy with a progressive opinion on one side of the divide, and bigotry everywhere else. Ibram X. Kendi typifies this tactic: “Either there is something wrong with our policies, or there is something wrong with black boys (or black people). Either the United States is riddled with racist policies or inferior black boys.” Given the choice between saying America is racist and saying blacks are inferior, most people will choose the former.

But those aren’t the only options. Among other things, there is culture. Indeed, cultural explanations of disparity are the exact opposite of racial-supremacist explanations for the same reason that nurture is the opposite of nature. What’s more, criticizing elements of a culture that are counterproductive is not the same as blaming individuals from that culture for their own circumstances. The argument is not, as Coates has unfairly summarized it, that “some amount of the racial chasm is the fault of black people themselves.”12 Rather, it is that “structural conditions shape culture, and culture, in turn, can take on a life of its own independent of the forces that created it,” as the writer Jonathan Chait has put it.

A set of taboos and false dichotomies created by intellectuals for intellectuals have made this subject needlessly difficult to discuss, but discuss it we must. We no more choose the culture we are raised in than we choose the year we are born in. Nevertheless, culture matters, and black culture is no exception. To inoculate black culture against all criticism is to doom blacks to pay the price for the destructive elements of their culture in perpetuity.

The Racism Treadmill

The disparity fallacy and the denial of cultural factors conspire to create a dynamic that I call the Racism Treadmill: as long as cultural differences continue to cause disparities between racial groups, and as long as progressives imagine that systemic racism lies behind every disparity, then no amount of progress in reducing systemic racism, however large or concrete, will ever look like progress to progressives.

Indeed, it may be a mistake to think of progressives as engaging in progress-oriented activism to begin with, because that would imply that they are progressing towards some specified endpoint. But if the progressive definition of ‘progress’ ends with a disparity-free world that will never—indeed could never—exist, then progressives are left with a Sisyphean politics; an agitated march to nowhere in particular.

I submit that the Racism Treadmill, and the dogmas that motivate it, account for much of the progressophobia of the activist Left on the topic of race. The Treadmill shows itself in the way progressives appropriate the tragedies of history in order to summon rhetorical gravitas in the present. Carceral policy is not just bad, it’s the “New Jim Crow”; posting reaction GIFs on social media that portray black people is “digital blackface”; and, even though three separate analyses have found no racial bias in police shootings, such shootings are said to be “reminiscent of the past racial terror of lynching,” as a United Nations report put it. It seems as if every reduction in racist behavior is met with a commensurate expansion in our definition of the concept. Thus, racism has become a conserved quantity akin to mass or energy: transformable but irreducible.

There’s no reason to think that the definition of racism will stop expanding any time soon. And there’s no reason to think that progressives will ever stop demanding institutional reforms to fix racism—up to and including attempts to reform our subconscious minds with such things as mandatory implicit bias trainings. In a BBC feature on racism, the acclaimed poet Benjamin Zephaniah remarked, “laws can control people’s actions, but they can’t control people’s thoughts. As racism becomes more subtle, we need to keep pressuring our institutions to change.”

Luckily, he’s right that laws can’t reach into our subconscious minds, since anti-bias trainings don’t seem to work. But Zephaniah’s remark would have sounded alien to the Civil Rights leaders of yesteryear. In the words of political scientist Adolph Reed,

Black political debate and action through the early 1960s focused on concrete issues—employment, housing, wages, unionization, discrimination in specific venues and domains—rather than an abstract “racism.” It was only in the late 1960s and 1970s, after the legislative victories that defeated southern apartheid and restored black Americans’ full citizenship rights, that “racism” was advanced as the default explanation for inequalities that appear as racial disparities.

If the early 1960s were about reaching the mountaintop, then the modern era is about running on the Treadmill. Coates’s refrain, “resistance must be its own reward,” has become the watchword of the movement.13

The War on Racism, though intended to be won by those prosecuting it, will, in practice, continue indefinitely. This is because the stated goals of progressives, however sincerely held, are so apocalyptic, so vague, and so total as to guarantee that they will never be met. One often hears calls to “end white supremacy,” for instance. But what “ending white supremacy” would look like in a country where whites are already out-earned by several dark-skinned ethnic groups (Indian-Americans top the list by a large margin) is never explained. I would not be the first to point out the parallels between progressive goals and religious eschatology. Coates, for instance, professes to be an atheist, but tweak a few details and the Rapture becomes Reparations––which he has said will lead to a “spiritual renewal” and a “revolution of the American consciousness.”14

Staying on the Racism Treadmill means denying progress and stoking ethnic tensions. It means, as Thomas Sowell once warned, moving towards a society in which “a new born baby enters the world supplied with prepackaged grievances against other babies born the same day.”[15] Worse still, it means shutting down the one conversation that stands the greatest chance of improving outcomes for blacks: the conversation about culture.

By contrast, getting off the Treadmill means recognizing that group outcomes will differ even in the absence of systemic bias; it means treating people as individuals rather than as members of a collective; it means restoring the naive conception of equal treatment over the skin-color morality of the far Left; and it means rejecting calls to burn this or that system to the ground in order to combat forms of racial oppression that grow ever more abstract by the day. At bottom, it means acknowledging the fact that racism has declined precipitously, and perhaps even being grateful that it has.


Coleman Hughes is an undergraduate philosophy major at Columbia University. His writing has been featured on Heterodox Academy’s blog as well as in the Columbia Spectator. You can follow him on Twitter @coldxman


1 Pinker, Enlightenment Now, 219.
2 Coates, We Were Eight Years in Power, 152.
3 Sowell, The Economics and Politics of Race, 201.
4 Sowell, Intellectuals and Race, 95.
5 Coates, We Were Eight Years in Power, 156.
6 Dyson, The Black Presidency, 13-14.
7 Sowell, Three Black Histories, in The Wilson Quarterly Vol. 3 No. 1, 102.
8 Sowell, Three Black Histories, in The Wilson Quarterly Vol. 3 No. 1, 102-103.
9 Sowell, Black Rednecks and White Liberals, 32-33.
10 Chua & Rubenfeld, The Triple Package, 41.
11 Coates, We Were Eight Years in Power, 28.
12 Coates, We Were Eight Years in Power, 154.
13 Ibid., 289.
14 Ibid., 202.
15 Sowell, Intellectuals and Race, 138.

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    • chad99999 says

      With white people who are not progressives, it is always the same story. Racism is never the cause of racial disparities .As a PhD student at the University of Texas in the 1970s, I was stopped at least once a month on campus by the police. To white colleagues who were not being stopped, I was either a liar seeking attention by falsely claiming I was being stopped. Or I must have been doing something unusual to “provoke” the police.

      I work today at the headquarters of a large corporation. There are only a handful of black employees. All with advanced degrees. All reporting to white bosses without advanced degrees. No black employee has ever been promoted, but whites insist that the situation reflects the different “skill sets” of individuals. Yeah right. Deny. Deny. Deny.

      • Smegma says

        Chad99999 The author isn’t saying that racism isn’t there and doesn’t play a part, rather, that it doesn’t account for most of the disparity. Your anecdote may be true, but I have an anecdote that is completely opposite of yours, so that’s why you have to look at the larger statistics and not just personal anecdotes. If racism were so rampant why are the Jews doing so well? They are THE most discriminated group on the planet, so they should be the most poor and wretched of all. Control for all the factors and then you can understand that it’s largely cultural influences within groups that lead to outcomes in life. Ironically, the cultural aspects that hurt black men in society were derived from the culture of Scotts and north English that were around during the antebellum era, so you can still pin it on white folks if that makes you more comfortable.

        • Alequo says

          I’d be very interested in reading more about “the cultural aspects that hurt black men in society were derived from the culture of Scotts and north English that were around during the antebellum era”. Any recommendations for books/articles?

          • Lewin W. Wickes says

            “Black Rednecks and White Liberals”, by Thomas Sowell, who says among other things that Ebonics has little to do with Africa. He traces its roots to the English dialect of plantation overseers, who were drawn largely from brutes who immigrated from northern England.

          • Chris Harper says

            Alequo, try the essay by Thomas Sowell, Black Rednecks and White Liberals. He makes precisely this argument.

      • Coach B says

        Blacks draw additional suspicion because they commit violent and property crimes at a far higher rate than other races. Look up the stats/ And even when there’s no criminal record, blacks have more trouble being polite and professional. This is not racial. It’s cultural. 80% of blacks grow up without fathers and their male role models are mostly bullies. They have to fight much more growing up than whites. If I grew up in this culture I’d be combative and not interested in school either, because survival is about being tough first, smart second. This thug life is not unlike the one practiced by immigrant Italians and Irish between 1860 and 1924. Cops wouldnt help, so thugging was needed. Prohibition offered lucrative opportunities for immigrants. But once liquor was legalized again, the Italian and Irish gang power subsided, and with no welfare available, those immigrants joined the free market and learned to trade instead of run rackets and fight. The three things holding blacks back more than anything else are 1) victim mentality, 2) welfare (discourages honest work and encourages out of wedlock births), and 3) the war on drugs (illegal drugs cant be stopped with such huge money incentives. Until the wars on poverty and drugs are ended, blacks will continue to fail. Democrats love black dependency and victim mentality…it keeps votes coming. But Dem policy gives nothing but long term misery.

        • Marcus L. says

          Everyone KNOWS democraps NEED a permanent, government dependent underclass to remain politically relevant. Thus, they will seek to keep blacks and other minority groups as dependent on government for as long as possible!

      • emmanuel didier says

        As a “maudit français” (God damn frenchman) I was beaten every day in my exclusive francophone school in Montreal by my colleagues whose fathers were making at the same time their careers as heirs of the French Canadian cause. Then what? So, I stiffened my lips, strengthened my resolve and worked harder. Consequence: I am not an eternal victim, but a winner.

      • Curtis says

        50 fucking motherfucking years ago in 1970 you were treated like you are black.

        What do you think changed?

    • Marcus L. says

      Well beyond merely interesting; this young man’s analysis is trenchant! E.g.:

      But the premise built into the thinking of Coates and Kendi is false. I call it the disparity fallacy. The disparity fallacy holds that unequal outcomes between two groups must be caused primarily by discrimination, whether overt or systemic. What’s puzzling about believers in the disparity fallacy is not that they apply the belief too broadly, but that they apply it too narrowly. Any instance of whites outperforming blacks is adduced as evidence of discrimination. But when a disparity runs the other way—that is, blacks outperforming whites—discrimination is never invoked as a causal factor.

      • Ahmad Qadafi says

        “But when a disparity runs the other way—that is, blacks outperforming whites—discrimination is never invoked as a causal factor”

        Because blacks are in no position to discriminate in masse against whites and there is prevailing anti-white culture in our society. Big quantitative and qualitative difference.

  1. John says

    Coleman, do you have a Patreon account? I’d love to donate to you. Thanks for the amazing essay.

  2. Gershom says

    There’s a huge gap in reasons cited here for perpetuation of the “Racism Treadmill” — groups gain power and profit from perpetuating a racial crisis. Call it the “Racism Industry.” If racial problems were solved tomorrow the gravy would stop flowing for all these people. They have a powerful interest in creating and fanning racial grievances.

    • Nick says

      Racism is profitable for some, undoubtedly, but the question is whether the chicken or the egg came first, and its difficult to discern which truly did.

    • Jay Salhi says

      “groups gain power and profit from perpetuating a racial crisis.”

      Self-appointed community leaders and progressive activists gain power and profit from such methods. The groups they profess to care about do not.

    • Greg says

      Really? The “racism industry”? Power and profit? Sounds great. I’m bored with my current job and could use a change. Tell me: where do I apply? Where is this mythical “racism industry” with the flowing gravy?

      • Larry Siegel says

        Apply for a job as a foundation program officer.

      • Omar says

        Professors, journalists, activists, writers, artists, politicians, and many others profit off having a racist system to dismantle and fight against. A white world to stand in contrast against. More gravity is added to efforts made in the struggle. Corporations didn’t used to need diversity experts and racial sensitivity seminars. Maybe its about time these things came into fruition. Its possible they are needed. Either way it clearly has become, at least partly, an industry.

        • Immigrant Striver says

          You forgot diversity and inclusion officers and consultants, university admissions officers and consultants, and trial attorneys.

      • Joe Bob says

        Hi Greg-

        Google spent 265$ million on diversity. Diversity initiatives and trainings are ubiquitous across corporate America. The information is not secret.

        • Marcus L. says

          1. The legal profession is utterly OBSESSED with diversity, despite the utter lack of proof of ANY discrimination or bias within the profession;

          2. Almost every Fortune 500 company has a “diversity officer” whose being paid six figures. Meanwhile, ALL of the hundreds of companies for whom I’ve consulted over the past 25 years would have hired a blind, transgender, African-American dwarf if that person was the best candidate or could make the most $$ for the company!

          There is VERY little overt discrimination in America and all the rest of it is manufactured HORSESH*T.

          • Ahmad Qadafi says

            There is PLENTY of overt discrimination in America and one diversity officer in company of thousands hardly sounds like a stance against racism.

    • JL says

      Racism has an emotional side appealing to liberals, and a rational side well delineated in this essay. Liberals will NEVER give up the hysterics because the emotion invested and derived is cyclical.

    • Ahmad Qadafi says

      As if a large segment of our population doesn’t profit and benefit from anti-black and anti-Latino racism itself.

  3. ga gamba says

    Mr Hughes, this is a very tight essay. Well done to you.

    I think you’ve done a fine job showing the problem of mainstream media’s reliance on univariate analysis. It’s great for a sexed-up headline, and it sustains the narrative du jour that, in tandem with Hollywood, further perpetuate the gaslighting of the public.

  4. Tom R says

    Similar arguments can be made on “culture” by gender stereotypes, like a self-propagating myth that women are not as good at technical work, or that nursing (a title that matches a function motherhood) as feminine.
    Culture can change, but not always for the better, like “culture” protected women from smoking (as masculine) until Bernays decided to sell cigarettes as a measure of women’s liberation. So culture can be warped for fun and profit through the vanity or resentments of its members. This suggests every culture can have a slightly different vulnerability, and enlightenment isn’t as easy is pointing out self-destructive choices.

    • Nick says

      To some extent this is true. An (understandably) ignored topic of this article is the natural influence that can cause these disparities between races or genders. With culture, it is assumed that it was created arbitrarily, or consciously (by evil powers power that be). In reality, culture is heavily derived from our nature. While this is, by no means, always the case, cultural expectations and attitudes are often true, although are also often exaggerated. For example, the cultural expectation of stay at home moms and breadwinner fathers is for good reason (1). Whether this difference is due to cultural reasons or biological (I suspect a mixture of the two) is difficult to ascertain but it is consistent with our ancestral species gender roles (which are generally considered naturally determined, unconscious etc.), and nearly every sexually reproducing species on earth, for that matter.

      “This suggests every culture can have a slightly different vulnerability, and enlightenment isn’t as easy is pointing out self-destructive choices”, this is true. And I think this is what progressive are attempting to do as well, to some extent. When isolating political issues and addressing them individually we miss the nuance required to create an optimally functioning society. It is akin to playing a game of political whack-a-mole instead of connect-four which we should be playing.

      1) https://convention2.allacademic.com/one/asa/asa17/index.php?program_focus=view_paper&selected_paper_id=1246343&cmd=online_program_direct_link&sub_action=online_program

    • Daniel says

      #Tom R.,
      I’m in full agreement of how culture can change, and not always for the better. Look no further than former Iron Curtain countries, and how they have been affected by Communism.

      Cultures are receptive to messages. This is why propaganda works. One thing that would reverse the unfortunate trend of African American culture is if being intellectual became as popular as being a sports star. I’d love to see Thomas Sowell debate someone on the Left. From the perspective of affecting culture, this would be a win regardless of what happened in the debate. There need to be some popular black intellectual heroes showing the awesome power of words. For instance, can you imagine if Obama, with his magnetic charisma, had been focused on what worked, rather than his Leftist ideology? Our country would be totally different.

      • TarsTarkas says

        Propaganda is overrated as a tool of persuasion. Propaganda works to reinforce existing beliefs and prejudices, and to explain away personal deficiencies as the fault of the ‘other’. It generally fails to convince those who are not inclined to believe except in moments of crisis. If the populace were really as weak-minded and easily swayed as pundits constantly claim them to be, there would be no need for police states in tyrannies. Propaganda works best when used in conjunction with enforced ignorance (via slanted schooling, barriers to communication with and knowledge from outside the tyranny) and coercion.

      • Ahmad Qadafi says

        Do you think most white boys aspire to be intellectuals rather than sports stars? Listen to what you are saying.

  5. Pingback: The American Politics thread - Page 1405

  6. Matt says

    How many undergraduates can think and write like this? Mr. Hughes should be proud of having written such a thoughtful, engaging, and cogent piece; he obviously has a bright future ahead of him. Well done.

  7. JB says

    I can’t believe the author is only an undergrad. Well done. You give me hope for the future.

  8. John G says

    Thrilled to see the word “grateful” being used by a college student again. This great miracle of liberal democracy deserves some. Excellent essay!

  9. Andrew_W says

    Yes, you’ve got it, a big swathe of Black American culture does not see effort towards scholastic success as a worthwhile investment, that is not the case with Black people from the Caribbean or Africa. The next questions are “why?”, “should we strive to change this?” and “If so, how?”

    I do believe that, yes, we need to try to change this anti-book mind-set.

    • dirk says

      @Andrew: The Russian orthodox, activist philosopher Alexandr Doegin would say, -no,- do’nt-, do not normalize-, this should be something of their own effort, and choice. Any universalism, even within a nation, should be avoided, so, what he means is: multiculturalism at work. Besides, who is/are that -we-?

      • Andrew_W says

        This “culture” causes issues across America in terms of crime and its costs, health, education, everyone is affected by it, so it’s everyones problem.

        • dirk says

          That’s very true of course, so, you can’t avoid normalising and acculturising ( forced? or otherwise? how?), not something Doegin would propagate, but, Doegin is a Russian of course, civilian of a huge territory, with many minorities, some of them with only weak connections with Moscow and national culture, beliefs, laws and habits, so, maybe his approach (conviction) is not something that can apply in the US now.

    • Bill says

      I think you’re focusing on the symptom. Perhaps a big reason for the lack of investment in scholastic success is that the success is no longer differentiating in the era of participation degrees and diplomas. I don’t know if that’s simply the excuse du jour but it is a reasonable explanation when coupled with the job market and general lack of mobility particularly among inner city youths of all skin tones.

      If you have no ability to move to the jobs, and there are no jobs in your area requiring a college degree or even a high school diploma, what value do they add? The mantra of “get a good education” was predicated on the education providing job skills which is no longer the case when teachers simply teach a test (or cheat) and degrees are awarded for being there (many collegiate athletes). In generations past we had the alternative, vocational track which has long since fallen out of favor since “Free money!” for student loans has driven everyone to overpriced undergraduate degrees and decades or lifetimes of debt.

    • Ahmad Qadafi says

      If so, why are black Americans as a group far wealthier than any Caribbean or African nation?

  10. fabio says

    Allow me one correction: Malcolm X`s ancestry was only half West Indian. His mother was born in Grenada, but his father was a descendant of slaves in Georgia.

  11. This is a much better effort than some other pieces in Quillette recently because it challenges a progressive framing instead of first accepting the framing and then ineffectually trying to criticize some uses thereof (e.g. if you first accept that “of course racism is an enormous problem in America”, then all your subsequent attempts at criticizing “anti-racist” absurdities will seem like those of a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest). However, I don’t see how attributing racial differences to “culture” helps in the end. It only shifts the question of causes to some less immediate context. Where does culture come from? If black culture has some negative aspects, progressives will of course blame them on past white racism. You’ll have to address the root causes eventually.

    • Daniel Jackson says

      “You’ll have to address the root causes eventually.” No you don’t. It doesn’t matter, you can’t change the past. You can only look to the future , to mold and curate the culture. Sowell actually already has a theory that the roots of this culture actually may come from Scotch-Irish Americans in the Antebellum South. Check out his book. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Rednecks_and_White_Liberals

      But the point remains, does it really matter how it started? I guess you could claim that in order to change the culture you first have to understand how it started, but Culture changes and shifts so much In short amounts of time I think it is probably more important to understand the Culture currently if you want to steer it in any direction.

  12. JB says

    Despite all the outcries of the widespread, inherent white racism in the US, I have never heard or read an actual argument that accounts for how Asians (including Indians) manage to thrive – more so than whites – in such a system.

    Can anyone tell me how these “anti-racists” contend with that fact? It’s so undermines their entire hypothesis that they must have constructed some sort of rebuttal, no?

    Honest question… either a true believer or a Devil’s Advocate can answer…

    • ccscientist says

      To answer your question with an example, I have a group of Iranian friends, all immigrants, who are quite successful. They read. They went to school. They are all married. If pressed, they may admit that sometimes they experience a little prejudice, but no big deal, they are busy getting ahead. No one is trying to mobilize them as a special victim group and they don’t see themselves as victims and if you talked about “systemic racism” they would have no more of an idea what you mean than I do.

    • Ahmad Qadafi says

      Why assume that white racism treats all races the same? America was built on a racial hierarchy with blacks at the bottom and Wasps at the time. Who do you think made up the middle? And most Asians are immigrants who come here for school or to work. They were by definition already middle class. They aren’t coming from the same place as a people who were a historical marginalized by the law.

  13. Emmanuel says

    Talking about how a group’s culture affect its “success” in a big multicultural society is almost impossible among social scientists because it challenges the dogma that “all cultures are equal”, which should mean in many a sociologist’s mind that all attitudes influenced by culture have the same outcome. It is a very sad situation because there is plenty of empirical that shows how much culture matter. The day social scientists abandon political correctness and rediscover scientific empiricism will truly be an intellectual revolution.

    • Ahmad Qadafi says

      Social Scientists do not say “all cultures are equal” . Rather,they try to adopt a position of indifference in regards to cultural value because scientists they have to at least TRY to be unbiased. It’s not up to social scientists to say which culture is better, no matter their personal opinion. It’s ironic that you call for scientific empiricism considering that science requires an unbiased perspective.

  14. Anon says

    You’ve got a bright future ahead of you. The American university is not dead yet.

  15. Henrick says

    DEFINITION: Progressive; To progress towards socialism.

  16. Alex says

    Left: we want an inclusive society where the black voice is respected.

    Me: I’m a black republican.

    Left: you disgraceful $*&$$! piece of #&&$ traitor.

  17. asdf says

    If you treat blacks as individuals you run smack dab into the problem that they are individuals with IQs of 85 on average, meaning they don’t have much to offer society and will never achieve much in the way or wealth or status. However, as an ethnic group practicing solidarity they can leverage their group to gain advantages they could not gain as individuals.

    Blacks already get this, so their engaging in identity politics is pretty rational. Classic liberalism just doesn’t offer them as much. Amongst those blacks that could make it on their own and find identity politics off putting or non-applicable to them they sense a different calculus, but this is only ever going to be a minority of blacks (hence why 90% vote D).

    There are certainly aspects of black culture that could be improved, but the payoff to effort ratio just isn’t the same. My neighborhood is littered with abandoned factories and methodist churches. In the 1950s you could take someone with a modest IQ and turn them into a valuable economic asset in the factory. Methodism was that kind of working class religion that tried to behavioral psychology people of that class into the kind that could live the bourgeois life. It payed for the community/employer to support that when there was a payoff. When their labor was no longer valuable because of automation it turned out that it wasn’t worth the effort anymore. Getting low IQ people to middle class is really damn hard. Once the payoff went away people stopped trying.

    Add to that the fact that the kind of things that get low IQ groups into shape would no doubt be considered so racist they would never fly.

    We could also get into the changing incentives for mate selection incentives, but to keep it short the bottom line is that there are no longer economic/social incentives to do the hard work of fixing the left half of the bell curve.

    This has effected whites and blacks on that side of the bell curve, but blacks have more obvious outlets to political and cultural solidarity.

    Republicans have been blaming black culture for decades. It hasn’t moved the needle. It never will. Even if you could “fix” their culture you probably wouldn’t find middle class white norms on the other side, given the raw material.

    What are blacks going to say, “it’s my own cultures fault please take away my EBT card or cushy affirmative action sinecure.” They aren’t suckers.

    The real problem is that right now browns are still a minority so we never quite go “full retard” on this racial stuff. Even crazy liberal places like Massachusetts will elect a Republican if the taxes get to high or they try to start school busing.

    However, when America is majority non-white expect it to look a lot more like Detroit or Baltimore. Sky high taxes, massive corruption, obvious and unpleasant race based machine politics. Don’t like affirmative action…take a look at the system in Malaysia. That’s what a minority/majority country looks like. Classic liberalism is no defense against racial solidarity, especially from races who have nothing to gain from it.

    • Paul says

      People with low average IQs are still redeemable because they can be respectable members of society. One can work a menial job and earn less-than-deal wages, and still adhere to cultural mores that constitute the better nature of society. There is not an invariable and endemic strain within the black community orthogonal to the low IQ of blacks that would implicate them in defacto anti-social, violent, and criminal behavior – that their culture is inclined towards this is not evidence that things cannot change even if the science says they are dimmer than whites, on average.

      • asdf says

        I get you from a moral sentiment, but lets be realistic.

        Working a menial job for little money is never going to garner much status. Especially because these people will have so little else going for them usually. Whose going to marry these people? Whose going to want to spend time around them? As a moral sentiment everyone agrees that “things should be better then that”, but how does that actually operationalize?

        In the past working a menial job was the difference between starvation and not starvation. Having a husband that could keep you from starving was higher status then one that couldn’t. Today there isn’t much marginal improvement in living standards or social status that comes from low end labor, and we don’t let people starve whether they work or not. Once the basics are provided by the state, there are better ways to spend your time then minimum wage.

        Could someone with an IQ of 85 produce enough to justify a first world standard of living in classical liberal world? What if they had to compete with billions of other low IQ people from around the world? I’ve heard honest classic liberals talking about bringing Latin America style Favelas to America as the future standard of living for this group. Are people going to put up with that when its just plain easier to vote yourself someone else’s money?

        Would make work jobs even make sense for the lower part of the bell curve? Anyone that has dealt with the underclass in a work environment knows how hard it is to get them to show up on time, not be on drugs, not steal, not damage things, not be in the way. Some peoples labor is worse then free. Their presence actually negates the labor of those around them. They are negative utility. Its actually easier to send them EBT cards. I guess we could get more out of them with 1900 style factory foremen, but we aren’t that kind of society anymore. It’s just easier to forgo the minuscule value of their labor entirely.

        As for law and order it would take a lot to bring the underclass to heel. Could the chattering classes tolerate it? If we let Lee Kuan Yew discipline the black community we could drop crime 90% overnight, but would people put up with blacks getting canned by the government? Public disorder in the ghettos is just something we decided we could live with more then we could live with the resources and moral tradeoffs ending it would take.

        The way I see it things worked out exactly as The Bell Curve said:

        1) As returns to IQ increase and low IQ work becomes obsolete we will increasingly have a dysfunctional dependent class that isn’t worth fixing in purely economic terms.

        2) The winners of IQ importance will attribute it to their moral worth, because they believe in meritocracy + egalitarianism.

        3) They will come to despise those at the bottom as having chosen their depravity.

        4) However, certain victim groups within the underclass your not suppose to blame.

        5) The upper crust aren’t going to blame themselves. They aren’t going to blame the system they run (except to say ever more resources and power need to be turned over to them). And they can’t blame it on some outside force of nature because that violates egalitarianism.

        6) So they will blame low status non-victim groups who can’t defend themselves.

        7) As more and more low IQ people are brought in via immigration the WWC will be further blamed, and the well off will self congratulate themselves as the rest of us move to dysfunctional Favelas.

        8) Everyone will do this because its in their individual best interest to do so.

        • Derrick says

          @asdf, I really appreciate your persective on this. Has really made me think. Two thoughts arise from your presentation.

          1) I think you undervalue the cultural effect of religion. Religion is a major culture shaper and influencer that is only rivaled by the education, entertainment, and government systems. Intellectual elites tend to dismiss it’s importance or try to solve culturaly problems without it, but religion’s goal is to shape culture and mores of an individual and society. I happen to be a believer, so I see it’s value beyond the effects on culture. And religion generally only works for believers, but religion’s historic effects are undeniable.

          2) I think minimum wage creates some serious challenges. Well off households used to be a major employer. With the minimum wage, the income level has been pushed higher for those who can employ others and therefore depressed the numbers of unskilled labor who can be employed. I lived in South Africa for 6 years where households and farms of those in the middle class and up still regularly employ unskilled labor. It isn’t a complete solution, but if we are going to have mass unemployment and have society pay for it anyway, eliminating minimum wages and finding ways for socially supplementing lower income earners might be better for society as a whole. I think this partially because I believe in the value of work for people is far more important for well being than the mere economics of it.

          • The original purpose of the minimum wage was to drive the low skilled people out of the economy.

            “We have not reached the stage where we can proceed to chloroform them once and for all; but at least they can be segregated, shut up in refuges and asylums, and prevented from propagating their kind.…

            What are the possibilities of employing at the prescribed wages all the healthy able-bodied who apply? The persons affected by such legislation would be those in the lowest economic and social group. The wages at which they can find employment depend on the prices at which their product will sell in the market; or in the technical language of modern economics, on the marginal utility of their services. All those whose additional product would so depress prices that the minimum could no longer be paid by employers would have to go without employment. It might be practicable to prevent employers from paying any one less than the minimum; though the power of law must be very strong indeed, and very rigidly exercised, in order to prevent the making of bargains which are welcome to both bargainers.”


        • Jack says

          Smartest comment on this thread. Thanks for daring to speak about the IQ problem. That is the root of the issue. Low IQ is the foundation of ghetto culture’s anti intellectualism, hyper-masculinity, and glorification of crime.

        • Joe says

          It seems to me that this is just what the future will hold. We will need to do something about the increasing number of people who cannot contribute. Right now it’s maybe a third of the IQ curve, maybe as much as half. At some point probably in the near future, it’ll be as much as 80 or 90% of the population. Racial solidarity is a factor, but I think it will soon be clear that really this a problem of cognition, not of racism.

          I think the really interesting (or rather the terrifying) question will be, “What do we do once the marginal productivity of most of the population is zero?” I, for one, have no answers, but I don’t think the answer will be classical liberalism. If that solution leads to favelas as you note, then most people will refuse to go along for the ride (and, to be honest I don’t much like this option).

      • Diane says

        The same was said about test results for many Eastern and Southern European immigrant groups. As they assimilated, their IQ test results increased. As hard as testers try, there is no escaping some amount of cultural bias in the tests. If an American took a Chinese IQ test translated directly into English, the results would not be the same as they would for an American IQ test.

        • Jay Salhi says

          Your point about test results improving with assimilation is a good one. Your claim about culture bias is not. If it were true, the tests would not have predictive value and would be useless. IQ is a better predictor of future income than parental income.

        • ga gamba says

          As hard as testers try, there is no escaping some amount of cultural bias in the tests.

          Really, Diane? You sure about that? Tell me about the cultural bias of the Raven’s Progressive Matrices IQ test. Perhaps the people of squares are oppressing the people of circles? Or perhaps it’s biased against people who don’t have right angles in their culture. Who are those people? You know who scores well on this test? People with Asberger’s. So, the test is biased against the estimated 97% who don’t have it. Presumably, with their superior IQ they’ll oppress us.

          That you believe, without citing any evidence, there’s no escaping cultural bias in all IQ tests boggles the mind. Your expectation of perfection blinds you from seeing excellence.

          You understand there are many IQ tests, right? The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale is the most popular IQ test in the world. Why would countries that didn’t produce this test – it’s written by Pearson – use if it were culturally biased against them? Wechsler was so concerned about non-intellective factors, and not only cultural bias, that he examined tests to identify and eliminate these. This was in 1937, when social ills such as racism and eugenics were common if not encouraged. Over the past 80+ years you think they haven’t continued to improve these tests? They have teams of people going over each question, performing analysis, and excising those issues.

          IQ tests are not trivia ones: “What’s a regatta?”, “Name the dynasty preceding the Qing,” and “Using the diagram, place the salad fork in the correct location,” are not determiners of intelligence. It’s abstract reasoning that’s tested, so even if there’s a smidgen of cultural bias, a person with a high IQ has a higher likelihood of reasoning through that which is unknown by using everything else that is presented. Further, if cultural biases were found today, don’t you think the opponents would capitalise on those flaws and trumpet them via the MSM to discredit the tests?

    • Alex says

      “If you treat blacks as individuals you run smack dab into the problem that they are individuals with IQs of 85 on average”.

      I wonder what Egyptians would have thought about European tribes? Or the Iraqis when Bagdad had the largest library in the world?

      What a disgusting, uniformed, comment.

      • Paul says

        His comment sounds harsh, but it is an unfortunate and inconvenient part of reality that IQ is largely genetic; twin studies suggesting ~80+5% of all variation of IQ is owed to genetics. That’s pretty damning when all longitudinal datasets in psychometrics show half of the distribution of the american black populace to be below 85 IQ. In a globalized world this presents huge upending labor problems and resultant social security systems.

        However, I’m unconvinced that social indigence is a necessary correlate of low IQ, specifically in regards to black social issues. In the white population, criminality and anti-social behavior amongst the low IQ segments (we have to use low income as a proxy, in this case) is dis-similar in type and amount than that of the black population. Whatever is going on, is unique to the black population. Poverty is a limiting factor toward sociality, but is not sufficient. What we do know is that IQ and escaping poverty is absolutely causal — whites with average and higher IQs and blacks with average and higher IQs have the same chance of escaping poverty at the exact same rates.

        • asdf says

          I think that there are non-IQ pieces of genetic behavior as well. IQ is a great social science variable, but its not the be all end all that genetics can tell us. For instance, its pretty obvious that blacks are better at certain kinds of music, improvisation, etc. You wouldn’t get that from an IQ test.

          I would guess that at a given level of IQ there is heightened impulsiveness amongst blacks. Hence why low IQ blacks behave worse then low IQ whites, even if neither are doing great right now.

          That being said, I think your correct that culture plays some part in black dysfunction. There is a bit of chicken and egg here though, because the center of mass of white culture will always be the middle class but the center of mass on black culture is always going to be the left side of the bell curve.

          How to change that though? It’s one thing to say that culture plays a role, but we no better know how to change culture then we know how to change genes. Or at a minimum what we do know has little chance of taking off politically.

          There are only three things I can think of that might help blacks:

          1) Holding them to white standards of behavior (this would be deemed racist, and anyway it would be hard to pull off)

          2) Forcing the black middle class to re-segregate back into the inner city and discipline their co-ethnics (gross violation of freedom and civil rights)

          3) Extreme social and criminal enforcement against people who engage in anti-social behavior (expensive, politically charged, etc)

        • Alex says

          I’m not challenging the results. I’m challenging the fact that it relates to the skin colour. So should you.

          Proof is first and second generation African immigrants are now over-represented in the black ethnicity of Ivy league students.

          By the way, does that mean Asians should rule the planet/America in this globalised world of yours?

          • asdf says

            Black African immigrants are a self selected group. They are the cream of the crop of their societies.

            The fact that most AA just goes to already well off blacks from Africa rather then victims of American slavery is a knock against it.

            They may well rule, they own our debt. Growing up with and living in Asia is part of why I don’t have white guilt. Asians are unapologetic racists and they have different moral frameworks. Having liberals try to shut down my magnet school for being “not diverse enough (read: too Asian)” was my first look at the harms of white guilt.

      • Daniel says

        More specifically, referring to blacks as “individuals” who are part of a group with an 85% avg IQ is exactly NOT treating them as individuals. If you want to treat them as individuals, hire the capable, and don’t hire the incapable. Who cares about the average?

    • Sean Wood says

      If you treat blacks as individuals you run smack dab into the problem that they are individuals with IQs of 85 on average, meaning they don’t have much to offer society and will never achieve much in the way or wealth or status.

      Read Thomas Sowell on the history of the Irish and Jews in this country. These groups both scored well below normal in intelligence tests in this country when they first immigrated. The Irish in particular also showed profound social pathology making them very poor employees. But both groups made tremendous gains, including scoring much higher on intelligence tests than before, under circumstances that can’t be accounted for genetically. For example, during the period of this change the Jews had very little intermarriage outside the faith.

      • Paul says

        These are methodology gains. Irish, Italians, and Jews, did not actually have the posted IQ that the WWI draftee test (where Sowell gets his IQ data from). This data was later corrected in more aggregate studies, but the spectre of this tale of IQ anomaly still remains. Otherwise, we would be lead to believe that social programs of a kind of environmental enrichment meant Jews (who rose to the top of every society their lived in Europe) went from having an 87 average IQ to a 115 average IQ in 20 years (when the scores were adjusted), which is preposterous. Same with Italians who are among the highest income earners among European-derived people in the US according to the census. We also can’t attribute this to selection bias because these groups came over as unskilled laborers, largely. This was simply bad data.

        • Sean Wood says

          These are methodology gains. Irish, Italians, and Jews, did not actually have the posted IQ that the WWI draftee test (where Sowell gets his IQ data from). This data was later corrected in more aggregate studies, but the spectre of this tale of IQ anomaly still remains.

          Do you generally find Sowell to be this sloppy? In that article he defends the data that he is referring to (which was perhaps the corrected data):

          It was based on hard data, as hard as any data in The Bell Curve. These groups repeatedly tested below average on the mental tests of the World War I era, both in the army and in civilian life. For Jews, it is clear that later tests showed radically different results-during an era when there was very little intermarriage to change the genetic makeup of American Jews.

          My own research of twenty years ago showed that the IQs of both Italian-Americans and Polish-Americans also rose substantially over a period of decades. Unfortunately, there are many statistical problems with these particular data, growing out of the conditions under which they were collected. However, while my data could never be used to compare the IQs of Polish and Italian children, whose IQ scores came from different schools, nevertheless the close similarity of their general patterns of IQ scores rising over time seems indicative-especially since it follows the rising patterns found among Jews and among American soldiers in general between the two world wars, as well as rising IQ scores in other countries around the world.

      • Bill says

        My experience with IQ tests is that they are biased towards social norms — hopefully that description makes sense. The things they test on, and the ways they test, are based upon education and experience assumptions. Perhaps an analog is the testing/measures used to evaluate educational systems international like PISA. They can’t just give students worldwide the same test since language difference and mental modeling differs particularly in the problem solving areas. Experience isn’t uniform. Ask inner city youths (predominantly black) about problems in spacial areas and they may not be as adept, being a city dweller, as someone who works on a farm (I don’t know, i’m just trying to throw out a concept where the two demographics have different backgrounds). Likewise, if a question is geared towards optimal path selection then the European youth likely has an advantage over US.

        Also, don’t discount the group-think aspect of culture. Being viewed as intelligent is a negative in some academic social circles. It is why there has been some unpopular academic debate about cohort building and how Brown v BoE has some negative, unintended consequences. One of my children tanked her IQ testing because she heard that the ‘accelerated classes are super hard with tons of homework’ and she didn’t want to be in them, so she sandbagged so she could coast with 100s through normal classes with little to no effort.

        • Jay Salhi says

          “Ask inner city youths (predominantly black) about problems in spacial areas and they may not be as adept, being a city dweller, as someone who works on a farm”

          There are plenty of Asian kids in the inner city in America (not to mention in places like Bejiing) who outperform the rest of us on spacial reasoning questions.

          I take your point about obstacles to giving kids worldwide the same tests. For example, I am suspicious about test results from Sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian Subcontinent where there are so many different languages and literacy rates may be very low in certain areas. Then again, I’ve never bothered to investigate how the people administering the tests control for these factors.

          • Bill says

            @Jay, I acknowledge the point about the Asian kids in the inner city, I was simply trying to give an example in context that (hopefully) all reading understand my point.

            With respect to the testing, there has been quite a bit of discussion around PISA because the data presented is often used to justify centralized regulation of education in the US even though the PISA researchers themselves state that the values they produce cannot be used as comparisons between countries. Some countries have very sparse data with extrapolated scores with other countries having richer data sets where subsets are discarded for various reasons. That is before examining the subjective scoring which rewards socialist policies over market-based ones. I don’t mean to suggest that sub-Saharan African scores are necessarily inflated/unwarranted only that the researchers coming up with this scoring themselves recognize the substantial challenges to providing some sort of normalized scoring.

            Here’s my template when explaining to people about IQs:
            Put your high-IQ US student in the African/Australian bush and see if they are still alive in a week. Now, take that low-IQ African/Australian bush-youth and drop them in the big-city and check in a week. There is a lot more to problem solving than what is taught in a book. It’s why I think tests like the ASVAB were unique and insightful in certain areas like identifying recruits who may have talents in cryptanalysis.

          • Sean Wood says


            Put your high-IQ US student in the African/Australian bush and see if they are still alive in a week. Now, take that low-IQ African/Australian bush-youth and drop them in the big-city and check in a week. There is a lot more to problem solving than what is taught in a book.

            But IQ tests are intended to measure intelligence, not learned skills such as the ability to survive in the wild.

        • dirk says

          Nerds and eggheads are not very popular among women, neither among most men.

    • SCWillson says

      To me the more significant question is *why* blacks test lower on IQ than other racial groups? Is it purely genetic, an aspect of culture, a lack of opportunity, a combination of these, or some other factor(s)?

      It’s long been demonstrated that children need mental stimulus as they grow. A kid growing up poor in the hood, without books to read (or to be read to) is not going to form as many synapses as a child who has them. Television, movies, and video games are no substitute for a child’s own imagination.

      • Bill says

        And IQ tests measure “intelligence” but just go look at any question and they are covering learned things. Which of the following is different? What is the next in this pattern? Those are all contextual and rooted in learning.

        • Sean Wood says


          And IQ tests measure “intelligence” but just go look at any question and they are covering learned things. Which of the following is different? What is the next in this pattern? Those are all contextual and rooted in learning.

          You seem to be saying that IQ tests, which purport to measure intellectual ability, utterly fail to do that. Thomas Sowell, in his review of The Bell Curve seemed to represent the majority opinion when he said the opposite:

          Long before The Bell Curve was published, the empirical literature showed repeatedly that IQ and other mental tests do not predict a lower subsequent performance for minorities than the performance that in fact emerges. In terms of logic and evidence, the predictive validity of mental tests is the issue least open to debate. On this question, Murray and Herrnstein are most clearly and completely correct.

    • augustine says

      “Classic liberalism is no defense against racial solidarity, especially from races who have nothing to gain from it.”

      A good insight, although classical liberalism has its own European origins and solidarity. We have shared the benefits and burdens of its innovations with the world for several hundred years, with expectedly uneven results.

      Unfortunately, too many liberals within this liberalism have interpreted it to be something abstract, something that can (and should) be adopted everywhere by all groups of people. Like the history of any ethnicity or region, however, classical liberalism is not universal but something particular that is indelibly connected to an actual history of individual people and circumstances. It may be transferrable– assuming others might freely desire what it has to offer– but there are limitations. God knows the limitations of operability have been severe for the Europeans themselves. I think Mr. Hughes’s article touches on this problem.

      The arrogance and concomitant violence of Neoconservative philosophy that assumes everyone on the planet should join in with a winning program is a monument to the denial of particularism in the pursuit of universal values. It is really a denial of humanity and human nature, and diversity in its truest sense.

      If the merits of classical liberalism were truly universal then we could export them instead of exporting guns to enforce principles supposedly derived from it.

    • James says

      This, to me, seems less a problem with race and more a problem of low IQ generally (as you note in a later comment). Whites with low IQs have many of the same problems (worsened in many cases because they don’t enjoy the advantages that blacks currently enjoy through affirmative action). What has to be more generally dealt with is the fact that society is increasingly unable to find places for larger and larger chunks of society.

  18. Austin says

    Fantastic piece. I look forward to reading more of your work.

  19. Jake says

    Don’t forget if Republicans got 15% of Black votes they would never lose another election in the USA.

    The Democrats have a vested interest in this.

  20. This is one of the best summaries/articles I’ve read on this subject. Also, thanks for actually providing data to support your conclusions. That’s a rarity these days unfortunately.

  21. James H Alton says

    You listed a few prominent black Americans of West Indian descent. Why did you omit Colin Powell?

    • TarsTarkas says

      Another is Malcolm Gladwell. He credits his mother for his success.

  22. I’ve found that long-term positive change in myself comes from doing the hard work for myself. Wouldn’t that same concept apply to the black community? What if progressives checked their arrogance and just got out of the way?

  23. This is a great article, and it’s actually similar in many ways to a point I made here (https://republicstandard.com/white-washing-black-failure/), where I discussed the study that’s mentioned in this article about which there was the big New York Times article and then went on to explain how what’s known by sociologists as “cool-pose culture” prevalent among African-Americans rather than white racism is the main source of the problems afflicting black Americans today.

  24. Brandon says

    Coleman, I’m sorry, but this is a pretty lazy analysis. Let me call your attention to this paragraph:

    ‘Meanwhile, blacks account for a staggering three-fourths of all NBA basketball players, while whites account for a mere 18 percent. Curiously, progressives have not seen the under-representation of whites in basketball as requiring any explanation whatsoever. When whites are under-represented somewhere, it is assumed to be a choice or a cultural preference. But when blacks are under-represented somewhere, progressives descend on the issue like detectives to the scene of an unsolved murder, determined to consider every possible explanation except for the “lazy” one: that in black culture, basketball is more popular than baseball.’

    What you’ve blatantly missed is the conversation around the racial discrepancies in act vs owner/financier: out of the 32 NBA teams, why is Michael Jordan the only black owner? Until this question is answered, progressives are absolutely right in descending on the issue as you call like detectives. Anytime we see an over representation of blacks (in seemingly good areas like representation amongst NBA players), there’s a more nefarious situation occurring in the background – such as the lack of black ownership. This goes for almost all sectors: media, sports, entertainment, academia, corporate America.

    Another thing, it’s unclear why you decided to write this piece. What’s the purpose of it? Who does it serve? Who’s your audience? This is the kind of analysis that makes white Americans feel good, and that’s it. I would challenge you to do better work.

    • Bill says

      How is ownership of teams relevant to the point he made? Blacks are under-represented in MLB and it’s “racism” but they are dramatically over-represented in the NBA but that isn’t racism. Are you saying that the majority white ownership is filling their rosters with black players because of racism? It isn’t because they aren’t paying them a boatload of cash and treating them as slaves, so what is the justification there?

      Professional sports is probably one of the few areas where hiring is on merit and “diversity quotas be damned” and as a result they clearly show that there are distinctly different areas of strengths and weaknesses that drive hiring/staffing — not just “it’s racism.”

    • And why are most of the NBA owners Jewish for that matter? Oh, the big questions in life….

    • Jay Salhi says

      “Another thing, it’s unclear why you decided to write this piece. What’s the purpose of it? Who does it serve?”

      His argument is either good or bad. It stands or falls on its merits. One of the worst traits of the progressive movement is the repeated attempts to shut people down by assuming anyone who challenges progressive orthodoxies has malevolent intentions. You dismiss his argument because in “makes white Americans feel good”. The truth does not care about anyone’s feelings. Arguments should be judged on their merits and not the emotional responses they elicit in the audience.

    • Daniel says

      Brandon, you asked — rhetorically I assume — the purpose of the piece and also whom it serves. Why would the purpose be other than what Hughes stated: that culture plays a bigger role in racial disparity than racism?

      As for whom it serves, intelligent insight serves everyone. Why would it not?
      Actually, I know why it would not: because your point is that it’s those others, the bad guys, the immoral oppressors that benefit from this article.
      If that’s the case, Brandon, you’re wrong. How does correctly identifying the problem (the reason for under-representation of black Americans among the successful or upwardly mobile) benefit any oppressors? It doesn’t. Oppressors don’t want the situation to change.

      Regarding your statement, “Anytime we see an over representation of blacks (in seemingly good areas like representation amongst NBA players), there’s a more nefarious situation occurring in the background – such as the lack of black ownership.” Why is NBA ownership nefarious? Are they perpetuating some kind of exploitation?
      If this discussion weren’t taking place in the location it is, I’d say, “Brandon, you really ought to read this terrific piece by Coleman Hughes, in Quillette’s online magazine. It proposes, pretty convincingly I might add, that culture shapes racial disparities more than racism. You might be convinced after reading it that black culture might have more of a role in this disparity than your make-believe nefarious racism.”

  25. Shannon says

    The crucial distinction: Criticizing skin colour = wrong (categorically); criticizing culture can be very beneficial.


    “A Gallup poll found that only 4 percent of Americans approved of marriages between blacks and whites in 1958. By 2013, that number had climbed to 87 percent, prompting pollsters to call it “one of the largest shifts of public opinion in Gallup history.”

    the 2nd largest transition in ‘Gallup’ history was from the canter to the trot…

  26. David says

    Wow. This needs mainstream publication. Brilliant research and reasoning.

  27. Seems like there are several scientific racism fans commenting here. Just to even out their correlations between poverty, race, and IQ, I would like to remind them of the political and media elites cheering on the Iraq invasion with no evidence of weapons of mass destruction only to be later trumped by Trump and Brexit. Then there was the panicked spectacle of the clueless financial elite during the 2008 crash. Why not factor these rich, ivy league graduates into your equation?

    As to Colin Powell, who can forget him menacingly shaking a vial of white powder on camera as evidence of who-knows-what? But don’t let me stop you from kowtowing to your superiors who just naturally flow to the top thanks to their IQ, hard work, and merit.

  28. Bill W says

    Let me add my “ditto” to all the praise for your article, Mr. Hughes. Very well-argued and well-cited. But let me muddy the waters by asking, “Isn’t the legacy of racism/oppression a fundamental driver behind the maladaptive parts to black culture?”

    You cite “being smart=acting white” as an example of the maladaptive culture. Well why is it such a bad thing to act white? Because whites were the oppressor, and for self-esteem, you don’t appease/cow-tow to the oppressor if you don’t have to. The culture might persist and be self-defeating, but it formed in reaction to rampant discrimination.

    • Jay Salhi says

      “The culture might persist and be self-defeating, but it formed in reaction to rampant discrimination.”

      I doubt many people would disagree with you. But so what? Does the fact that the culture formed in reaction to discrimination mean it should be immune from critical examination in perpetuity? In the 21st century, to think of whites as the oppressor and to think of the things that lead to success in a modern economy as “white values” or “acting white” is a recipe for dooming future generations of black kids.

      I don’t think that is your intention. It is just that this constant need to find the root cause is not particularly relevant to finding solutions.

  29. Nate D. says

    Good article! The reason articles like this can’t find purchase among the elites is because of the paradigm they’ve put in place.

    Picture it like this: a caste system (i.e. power hierarchy) with wealthy, white, heterosexual, cis, men at the top. Everybody not in this category stacks up below there somewhere within the system, with placement depending on “intersectionality.” If you’re a white woman, you have grievances because you live in a sexist culture. If you’re a black woman, you have grievances because you live in a sexist, racist, culture. If you’re a gay, black woman, you have grievances because you live in a racist, sexist, homophobic, culture. etc., etc., etc.

    Now, there is an inverse power-to-truth scale in place within this caste system. If you have lots of power (near the top of the caste system), you have little access to truth. If you are “woke,” and have lots of access to truth, it’s because you’re near the bottom of the caste system. An overweight, black, gender-queer, amputee, with metal health issues (which puts her very near the bottom of the caste system), has unlimited access to truth. She benefits from this in two ways: a) nobody up the ladder can challenge or disagree with her because they are be arguing from a place of lesser access to truth, and; b) she can fire all sorts of sweaty, racist, sexist, heterophobic, screeds up the up the ladder with no negative consequences.

    This explains why Coates can write unabashedly that white culture is “depraved” and be cheered, while no white journalist at any respectable website would dare write that black culture is depraved – it would be career suicide. Coates can fire racist tripe up the ladder because he has more access to truth and is therefore given a pass. However, if he has thoughts that differ from the narrative regarding the transgendered community, he better keep those thoughts to himself. Since they lower than him on the ladder they have more access to truth and could have him castrated and looking for a job in no time should he question their ideologies or political tactics.

  30. DK13 says

    Wow, this is outstanding. I mean, this is basically all stuff I’ve read/heard/thought before, but it’s extremely well presented here. Several quotations that I will remember years from now. “A conserved quantity akin to mass or energy: transformable but irreducible.” Are you kidding me?? Straight FIRE!

  31. Another ‘comforting’ piece from Quillette, and by a black boy no less! — a fact which really seems to have tickled the sentimental of Quillette’s readership, who are convinced it is one of the best articles they have ever read, and are ready to patronize the author themselves (I mean on Patreon), thereby bypassing Quillette completely… — all except brotha’ Brandon, above, who burst in to accuse the author of betraying his race for head-pats by white folks. It’s all around a humorous situation, I think you would agree.

    Anyway, Quillette editors obviously know how to please their customers: just give them the same thing over and over again. Nothing too radical of course, nor too fringey, and certainly nothing containing an original thought; just a daily dose of mild and sweetly reasonable counter-propaganda to re-validate their already slightly incorrect opinions, which never really change or deepen — and that’s apparently just fine with everybody.

    I only wish the readership would ask the editors to provide them with more original, diverse, and challenging material. It is out there.

    • TarsTarkas says

      Then either write the definitive article you think ought to be written about this subject and get it posted here, or if you post it elsewhere provide a link to it, or provide links to articles that do a better job than this one in describing the problem and/or offering solutions to it.

    • Jack says

      What a useless post. Point out where the piece is wrong or shut up.

    • Daniel says

      Some issues are best likened to math: there are only so many ways of arriving at the right answer.

  32. ccscientist says

    Those who see disparities and assume racism ignore two facts:
    1) it can take a long time once outright discrimination ends for a racial group to make economic progress. It took the Irish and Italians probably 80 to 100 years to catch up after their big immigration periods.
    2) the role of culture can’t be ignored. For example, black women make virtually the same as white women on average, but black men fall well behind. A discrimination explanation fails to unravel this, but a cultural one does: black men in the big cities are trapped in a cultural booby-trap. The definition of manhood they see is the tough guy, the thug, the gangsta. Following this model leads them into trouble like jail that wrecks their future chances. This problem is made worse by the lack of fathers in black homes–boys without fathers (of any race) are far more likely to get in trouble with the law and not finish school.

  33. ccscientist says

    The author’s point about blacks looking down on books is telling. One of the best predictors of children’s success in school (of any race) is books in the home and being read to. Black homes are all too often devoid of any book.

  34. ccscientist says

    Here is an example of detrimental culture: the culture of honor among poor southern whites, especially in the Appalachians. In this culture, one does not count on the police, since being back in the hills the police are not around. And one does not have much, but a young man does have his honor. If that honor is challenged, a fight is likely. A feud can result that goes on for years between two families. This cultural trait is not helpful in the modern world.
    This is just to illustrate culture for those too obtuse who think it is fixed and racial and to criticize culture is to criticize the race.

  35. Emblem14 says

    I’m concerned about the number of comments here seeming to rejoice at the implications of your argument that white racism is not the primary causal factor in the dysfunction and pathologies of the black American lower class. Regardless of this argument’s truth status, the primary political effect is to morally absolve “White America” of any collective responsibility for the (current) conditions of black people or any obligation to help mitigate those conditions. This directly leads to follow up arguments for the dismantling of social programs that assist lower class blacks under the premise that such programs don’t solve anything.

    After all, if the real reasons for persistent disparities are endemic to a toxic culture, which is internally reproduced through intergenerational feedback loops, there is nothing that white people could possibly do to “fix” black culture from the inside out, being as they’re distrusted outsiders and oppressors to boot. Furthermore, all of the bleeding heart social/political/economic interventions initiated to help narrow these disparities are therefore necessarily misguided and counterproductive, and/or a smokescreen for far-left marxist identity politics.

    You have a lot of white people heaping praise on you who love to hear arguments that let them off the hook for the plight of American blacks. You’re being flattered as a brave truth teller for taking on the burden of saying what they all wish they could say openly without being smeared as racists.

    I suggest you set a point for reference for your own politics on racial issues, not just for clarity’s sake, but to preempt the attempt of others to use you as a pawn, a token or a shill for ideas/positions you may not endorse. If your arguments can be used as cover for people who really are trying to hide noxious and indefensible points of view behind a mask of respectable contrarianism, coming from a black person no less, you have to be conscious of how some arguments have the unfortunate character of justifying overlapping positions that nonetheless lead to very different conclusions, depending on other discreet assumptions and inferences one would add to supplement the core point.

    For example, both classical liberals and ethno-fascists are opposed to the radical left. Liberal arguments against leftism are often used by fascists and their sympathisers to undermine leftism generally. That doesn’t mean that they are allied by any means, but it does mean that liberals arguments are “useful” to fascists, insofar as those same liberals do not also discredit those that would opportunistically appropriate their good arguments against a “mutual enemy”.

    So stake an unambiguous position on your ideological standpoint and political ideals, or you will be reduced to, on the one hand, an instrument of white people who will misuse your work to deflect responsibility for racism, or on the other hand, yet another cynical aspirant to the safe ensconce of white approval, willing to sell out “your people” in exchange for praise and table scraps.

    • Am says

      “cynical aspirant to the safe ensconce of white approval, willing to sell out “your people” in exchange for praise and table scraps.”

      I think the “his people” tribalism thing is something hes against

    • asdf says

      This is worth talking about because it gets to the point.

      “Regardless of this argument’s truth status”

      I punish people for stating these facts because they destroy my position.

      “the primary political effect is to morally absolve “White America” of any collective responsibility for the (current) conditions of black people”

      Crippling white guilt for a crime they never committed is a great evil (only the planter class committed the evil, they are dead, and blacks in America are incredibly luck to be here. My Northern Irish ancestry don’t owe you a thing, if anything you owe me).

      It also strips whites of the ability to celebrate their culture and past. In many ways this is worse then money to fund social programs. Throughout history groups that are part of a body politic have often been “bought off” for pragmatic political reasons, but at least there isn’t a massive guilt industry surrounding it. The Chinese in Malaysia suffer under a far greater system of injustice in material terms, but at least they know its not their fault and don’t have to suffer a guilt complex.

      Of course no such trade will be offered. The real value, especially to leftist leaders, is in the social power, not the EBT cards. You can’t get the social power without the guilt narrative to back it up.

      “or any obligation to help mitigate those conditions.”

      No more obligation then they have to anyone else.

      “This directly leads to follow up arguments for the dismantling of social programs that assist lower class blacks under the premise that such programs don’t solve anything.”

      Social programs aren’t taken out of some magic pot of gold. Some “secret stash”. You can’t order them up like a replicator on Star Trek. They are fundamentally composed of people. Either indirectly through a tax on peoples labor, but also directly through people actually providing these services.

      Let’s take a look at some white people I know that have been a part of these programs.

      There was the woman doing teach for America at 30 in the inner city. She was cynical and bitter. Said what bothered her about the young ones was they were so damn optimistic. They hadn’t banged their head into the wall long enough to realize its not like the movies. They would be burnt out and gone in two years, if they weren’t dumb enough like her to have made a career out of it. I remember the weight of dashed dreams in her voice.

      Worse, the girl that did trauma surgery in the emergency room in Baltimore. Gunshot victims. Long shifts of shooting victim after shooting victim. She was such a sweet girl. Deeply religious. Nice. Helpful. Spent all her time doing charity or praying. But one day there were just too many shooting on too long a shift. Ever since BLM came to town and the riots its been out of control. One day at the end of a long time she was so tired. Right as her shift was ending another gunshot victim came in. She was so so tired. Even though it was a total refutation of her entire being, for a brief moment, she just wished the bullet was a little further to the left so she could finally rest. It sent her into a complete crisis of being and faith. She was crying so hard when she confessed this. Her soul was in such pain. **You must answer for that pain.** It’s part of the pound of flesh you think whites owe you.

      There was my friend who was the roofer. He worked on roofs even on cold windy days. One day his company decides to take place in a work placement for cons program. So some ex-con shows up to “help”. Problem is he is high and falling asleep all the time. Even falls asleep on the roof putting my friends life in danger.

      Later I find out that a bill has been proposed in my state legislator to fund that program was taking it from a company that employs blind people. My friend was blind. When he went down with the other blind people to the state house to protest the black democratic politician from our district verbally abused him. I guess the blind owe a pound of flesh to blacks too.

      What your essentially saying here is “white lives don’t matter.” Their time, blood, and treasure don’t matter. Even if its wasted in massive quantities for no discernible benefit to anyone, it doesn’t matter because white lives have a value of zero. The suffering of every above doesn’t matter. If the cost of all these peoples sacrifices is zero then it doesn’t matter if any of these programs have any lasting impact. At least blacks got something for free.

      White people are not your slaves. You have no right to chew up their lives. They are individuals with dignity who deserve to live and thrive, not exist to serve you.

      I won’t even get into all the totally idiotic knots we’ve tied our education, real estate, and law enforcement sectors in the name of fighting racism and the damage that has done to our society and all the people it makes up.

      “I suggest you set a point for reference for your own politics on racial issues, not just for clarity’s sake, but to preempt the attempt of others to use you as a pawn, a token or a shill for ideas/positions you may not endorse. If your arguments can be used as cover for people who really are trying to hide noxious and indefensible points of view behind a mask of respectable contrarianism, coming from a black person no less, you have to be conscious of how some arguments have the unfortunate character of justifying overlapping positions that nonetheless lead to very different conclusions, depending on other discreet assumptions and inferences one would add to supplement the core point.”

      In other words: Black Brother, we need to stand together and get ours for our people no matter the cost. Bottom line is we get as much cheddar for our kind as we can. Can’t you see how good this guilt shit works at achieving that end. Don’t rock the gravy train.

      I agree that’s what your doing. Whites should show solidarity in defense against it. It’s so cynical and partisan it should put an end to whatever sympathy whites ever had.

      “That doesn’t mean that they are allied by any means, but it does mean that liberals arguments are “useful” to fascists, insofar as those same liberals do not also discredit those that would opportunistically appropriate their good arguments against a “mutual enemy”.”

      Classical liberals are useless shills that make white people who think talking about MLK will stop the gravy train. It won’t. We know that. We’ve been running this hustle for decades now, and its only accelerating in what we can take. That kind of resistance is safe and ineffectual. We need to encourage that kind of useless resistance and punish anything that might actually eat into this unjust ethnic spoils system we’ve erected.

      “So stake an unambiguous position on your ideological standpoint and political ideals, or you will be reduced to, on the one hand, an instrument of white people who will misuse your work to deflect responsibility for racism, or on the other hand, yet another cynical aspirant to the safe ensconce of white approval, willing to sell out “your people” in exchange for praise and table scraps.”

      You with us or against us Uncle Tom? We either exploiting white people up in this house or we not.

      • Emblem14 says

        It’s fascinating, and revealing, how you interpreted my post. For the record, I’m not black, and the impetus of what I wrote was to throw in some meta-political context for how a piece like this, and its author, would be received in the current culture war climate. I thought to extend some advice to the author that could help him avoid getting pigeonholed as a partisan shill, if that’s not what he intends to be.

        I looked up your other contributions on this thread and you seem to be a “race realist” (correct me if I’m wrong).

        I’m glad you responded to me the way you did, because it illuminates some of the raw emotional foundations of why you hold the opinions you do. I think discussing the true reasons for people’s beliefs is vital and so I applaud and appreciate anyone who’s willing to open up, rather than hide behind veiled rhetoric or surface proxy issues.

        In the interest of authentic exchange, I’ll follow my own advice and commit myself to an ideological standpoint. I’m a political pragmatist, an anti-extremist and a social/civil libertarian and pluralist. I think the liberal project, essentially summed up as a “live and let live” ethos supported by an equal application of laws which codify the primacy of individual rights and agency, is the only way a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural democracy can keep from descending into tribal warfare. I think it’s a fantasy that the USA could ever become a culturally homogenous ethno-state without the commiting of massive atrocities, and I categorically reject both the means and ends of that formula. I think identity politics of all stripes – collectivism based on solidarity around immutable accidents of birth – is a philosophical dead end and paves a road to hell on earth.

        I think pendulum theory is correct. I am hoping that tribal conflict becomes bad enough that society is forced to seriously stare into that abyss and lose its nerve. If the timing is right, a backlash against extremists and their destructive tendencies could provide an opening to reconsider the wisdom of small “l” liberalism as the only way to keep the social peace.

        I can see why you would have personal antipathy for “identity politics hustlers”, based on your anecdotes. So, what are your goals then? What is your concept of an ideal society? What are your terminal values? Do you find pluralism tolerable, or not? Are you willing to negotiate with other political factions you disagree with in order to be left in peace, and leave them in peace? Or are you convinced that breakdown is inevitable, or even preferable, when you have too many incompatible interests vying for power?

        • asdf says


          The thrust of the piece is that the author shouldn’t do anything that could cost blacks free stuff. As if this free stuff was a fundamental right and absolutely anything could be used to justify it. If your only goal is to get what you can at the expense of others with no restraining moral principal that’s a violation of the standards that are supposed to justify the charity in the first place.

          I think the reason that people go nuclear calling others racist and silencing talk of IQ is because they are trying to justify this system, which based on logic and facts would be morally indefensible. The people running the con know this so they’ve use fear to keep whites from standing up for themselves.

          People who try to talk about the facts only after five paragraphs full of apologies and “I’m not a racist but…” don’t realize the primary goal isn’t clarification of facts, but to instill fear in white people to achieve a political/social end, and all the apologetic pre-ambles drive home just which side has the social power to destroy lives. If you don’t breach the fear, you haven’t broken anything.

          White people can get in on race hustling too. In many ways race hustling is about some whites using blacks to lord it over other whites. Sometimes there is a direct benefit (maybe they administer or are paid by such programs), but often mere political/social power is enough. There is no doubt a righteous glee that comes simply from the power to call another racist and tear down a set of enemies. As Orwell said, in the end pure desire for dominance in and of itself is the most efficient way to power. The party doesn’t mind ruling over a ruin, so long as it rules.

          I’m a pragmatist myself, which is why I can’t understand why classical liberals can’t see the evidence in front of their eyes. Where are these successful multi-cultural societies? I don’t mean Switzerland where its three kinds of high IQ white people. I mean one where there is a large low IQ ethnic group. Especially as they approach or become a majority. I can’t think of a single one, especially any at scale (maybe there is some tiny city state out there, but I can’t even think of one). Best case scenario is ending up in some semi-dysfunctional Latin style middle income trap, worst case Venezuela.

          Lee Kuan Yew pointed out that in any multi-cultural society people vote for their narrow ethnic interests. So he used Chinese solidarity to become a one party state which outlawed race hustling and punished it severely. If there was a Malay Lives Matter its leaders would be arrested. He also made sure to punish illegal immigration with torture and erect a racial quota based immigration system that ensured the Chinese would remain demographically dominant and low IQ people were kept out.

          I have a lot more faith in Singapore style Asian technocratic realism and ethnic solidarity then I have in classical liberalism, which seems like a decent enough philosophy for all white societies but totally breaks down when you import too many third worlders.

          Within the west places with lots of brown people are terribly dysfunctional. I live in Baltimore which is a majority black city. It’s a complete mess. You talk about a pendulum, but once you go majority brown electorate there is no swinging back. It’s just third world forever. There was no swing back for Baltimore. All of the cities that have gentrified are coastal cities that started with low black percentages (SF, Seattle, Boston, Manhattan) that have gotten lower. If you don’t count Asian as “diverse”, then many of these places are less diverse then 1970. No wonder elites don’t see a problem a brown majority…they drove all the brown people away from where they live. They are someone else’s problem, and every four years they can provide votes for elite interests that destroy the middle class in exchange for racial spoils handouts.

          These pendulum swings basically happen when Silent Majority white people get fed up with liberal/brown overreach. However, liberals came up with an answer. Keep importing so many brown people that we reach a critical mass were we can do whatever we want to whites and they will lack the electoral power to fight back. Romney should have run up Reagan type electoral college numbers…if only America was as white as it was during Reagen’s time. This was when whites started to get what was up, and if they didn’t know being called a bunch of deplorables drove it home.

          My objective is to do my best to create a world in which my children will not have to grow up in a dysfunctional brown run third world society that hates them. The best ways to do this are:

          1) Do everything possible to end white guilt. Get people to accept HBD so that the entire white guilt social apparatus breaks down. This is by far the #1 objective. If its achieved most of the negative effects of race hustling can be dealt with. White guilt is the ultimate driver.

          2) Limit the amount of brown people through immigration restriction and deportations. Do this to the highest amount politically possible. This is in symbiosis with #1 because the larger the black population the more political advantage there is to fermenting white guilt, but its also something that can’t be accomplished without #1 being achieved.

          I hope we find a solution before reaching a Baltimore style tipping point, but even if we don’t ending white guilt is important to survival in such a scenario (see Chinese in Malaysia).

          3) Get classical liberals to realize their philosophy has an IQ cutoff. Your society can probably work around a small group of politically unconnected low IQ people (say, the amount present in the normal white bell curve), but can’t handle much more then that.

          The case of MLK is actually useful here. He never intended to have a color blind society. Between his I have a dream speech and his death his disapproval rating reached 75% as it became obvious that civil rights was just the first step on his advocacy of socialism for black people, busing to destroy white schools, etc.

          Getting killed before he could become Al Sharpton was the best thing to happen to him, it allowed white classic liberals to make up stories about how he supported what they supported, when in reality he didn’t.

          4) There is no such thing as Karma, being nice to other races won’t make them nice back. The more whites do for them and try to blame their own racism, the more dysfunctional and bold blacks get. Like the Cold War, fear of credible retaliation is the only way to ensure compliance with norms and order. Whites should make it clear they will match black race hustling with their own x10, thus changing the incentives for race hustling. Whites using blacks to get ahead in particular should face massive white cultural backlash. On can forgive someone trying to do the best they can for their own people, but running a con against your own people is an insane level of selfish opportunism.

          Basically, white people should start acting like they are human beings that deserve to be treated as such. They should form political interest groups to advance that belief based on a practical assessment of the world as it is rather then how one would wish it to be.

          • gda says

            Bravo. This absolutely stellar comment makes reading this article and it’s 130+ comments worthwhile.

          • Low IQ ethnic groups? High IQ whites? And the US wants to retain global hegemony? What non-Americans can see from many comments on this thread (and many will thanks to the internet) is that Americans are indeed exceptional in their widespread belief in 19th century colonial quack racialism. It’s like reading low IQ decadent barbarians with nuclear weapons.

    • ‘Regardless of this argument’s truth status, the primary political effect is to morally absolve “White America” of any collective responsibility for the (current) conditions of black people or any obligation to help mitigate those conditions.’

      ‘ …willing to sell out “your people” in exchange for praise and table scraps.’

      Those statements are totalitarian and authoritarian. I suspect most Quillette readers find them reprehensible. Coleman is making an astute observation. He is taking responsibility by courageously advocating his position in a very public way! It appears that he believes his best chance to mitigate ‘those conditions’ is by holding a light to the tragic outcomes associated with young men and their cool-pose culture.

      Politics makes for strange bedfellows. And it appears to drive those fully invested in identity politics insane with infighting, as they only appear able to identify with groups in binary ways.

    • Jay Salhi says

      A bit ironic how the only commentators mentioning the author’s race are the progressive “anti-racists” I learned nothing from the endless drivel in your comment other than that the author is black, something I did not know when I read the article.

      • Jay Salhi says

        So there is no confusion, my comment was a reply to Emblem14’s initial post above.

    • Jack says

      One thing “white people could do to ‘fix’ the problem” is for progressives to stop making it dramatically worse by spreading bullshit and squelching truth.

  36. Brianna says

    Not having yet read Pinker’s book, can anyone point to how he came to the statistic “now, racially-motivated killings of blacks occur at a rate of zero to one per year.”? Dylan Roof killed nine black people 2015 which would seem to automatically skew that slim of a statistic.

    • Gita K. says

      Not only Dylann Roof, but what about all the police killings – they were racially motivated, since a white person in a similiar situation would not have been shot. It’s easy to pull statistics together that prove some point while ignoring statistics that are equally relevant to a complete understanding of a very complex situation: what about the data on what happens when you submit the exact same job application, once with a black-sounding name, and once with a white-sounding name? Is that not racism? Traffic tickets – if you’re black or if you’re white? Sentencing in courts – if you’re black or if you’re white? Nothing in this essay addresses any of that.
      Also, some of the statistics are highly suspect and the footnotes don’t point to any actual data, just books that use the data. One example – that black women earn more than white women – I just find that too hard to believe, I would want to see the parameters before I put much faith in that information. That section continues on to argue a logical fallacy: there is no racism because Swiss earn more than Russians etc etc. Even if black women earn more that white women, that fact in no way negates the possibility that black men earning less than white men is due to racism.
      The Pinker book is a strange phenomena – so what if it was a lot worse in the time of the dinosaurs, does that really mean that there is no problem with how bad things are right now? That’s what he seems to be arguing. To the black person being beaten or killed or discriminated against in the jail sentence does it really feel better to say, ‘Oh well, I’m now one of thousands to whom this is happening, instead of millions when we were on the slave ships’?
      This is a slick little piece of writing that, like the Pinker book, satisfies the needs of a certain kind of reader to feel smug, but doesn’t actually shed any light.

  37. Scott says

    Coleman – A few critiques from the progressive side of the aisle.

    Culture does need to be part of the conversation for all of the socio-economic issues we are trying to analyze. But in the analyses of some of the other “cultural” issues you noted the left writes about (gun culture, masculinity), a central part of those studies is the “why” — why these cultures have taken shape the way they have. Your conception of black culture seems to take it as an endogenous set of features that just “are,” rather than as a complex, nuanced, and even contradictory set of traits that have evolved from a specific historical legacy. Do generations spent being treated as an underclass shape culture? Of course! But the causality for your argument then begins with understanding that historical legacy, including all the economic components of oppression that Coates explains outlasted Jim Crow, and have contributed to lasting disparities for individuals, families, and communities. Economic mobility has decreased across groups over the last forty years, but of course this hurts the group that started at the bottom – black people – the most.

    A second related critique is your use of African immigrants as a comparison for American blacks. As you likely know, our immigration system preferences elite immigrants (i.e. those who can get admitted to elite universities, are engineers, etc.), so as a group they have very different socio-economic starting points than American blacks. Nigerian immigrants, for instance, are the highest-educated group of any nationality, and these sorts of features give your analysis a cohort comparison problem.

    These both intersect with your central thesis, that cultural causes rather than systemic racism are the primary cause of racial disparities. I’d argue it’s not an either/or — they are in fact both inextricably linked, and so-called “cultural” features of the black underclass have been shaped by systemic racism.

    Also, make sure your statistics and citations are tight, otherwise you will open yourself up to nitpicking arguments. As others have noted, the statistic that racially-motivate killings of blacks occur at a rate of zero to one per year is on its face false (Dylan Roof, Austin bomber, etc.), and just serves to undermine the other arguments you are making.

    • Max H says

      I think the author-and most critics who emphasize the cultural angle-would aknowledge that some of the socially destructive aspects of black culture are an outgrowth of historical oppression.

      However, the experience of blacks has not always been this way. Thomas Sowell has documented the lower crime rates and higher employment rates of black men in the mid 20th century. Families were more intact and there was less social malfunction, all in an era that was undeniably more oppressive.

      Further, leftists claim that systemic racism entails not only historical social structures which partially determine certain societal outcomes today, but ongoing and active implicit and overt racism (particularly in the criminal justice system).
      This is where the left goes off the rails. Time and time again, studies find that many of these racial disparities are mostly accounted for by factors other than racism.

      For instance, in studies examining racial disparities in the criminal justice system, once relevant variables are controlled for, these gaps collapse.
      (See: http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/11/25/race-and-justice-much-more-than-you-wanted-to-know/)

      Lastly, it is not at all obvious to me that suffering under extreme conditions of oppression-even for prolonged periods of time-necessarily generates identical social pathologies across different ethnic groups.
      Not all groups that were historically oppressed are disproportionately represented in crime stats. The jews and native americans, while they arguably suffered under regimes that were less severe than African Americans, developed social pathologies and cultural features of an entirely different character than those of African Americans today

      “A second related critique is your use of African immigrants as a comparison for American blacks. As you likely know, our immigration system preferences elite immigrants (i.e. those who can get admitted to elite universities, are engineers, etc.), so as a group they have very different socio-economic starting points than American blacks. Nigerian immigrants, for instance, are the highest-educated group of any nationality, and these sorts of features give your analysis a cohort comparison problem.”

      This is an interesting point. However, presumably Africans would be vulnerable to the same putative systemic racism as their American born counterparts by dint of their skin color, unless they have identifiably unique accents/mannerisms that somehow innoculate them from these forces.
      Also, the immigrants being elite should be wholly irrelevant to progressives given that many stress that even wealthy blacks are not innoculated from systemic racism.
      (Sorry if grammar errors, writing this late).

    • Jay Salhi says

      Scott, with regard to your first point, virtually no one disputes the ugly legacy of racism. But the progressive narrative goes well beyond explaining the legacy. It assumes that little has changed, that white people alive today are responsible for the crimes of their ancestors and that all differences in outcomes between groups are the result of pervasive and invidious discrimination. It is not enough for a lending institution to show that its lending criteria are color blind (or that the people or computer software do not even know the race of the applicant), if blacks are rejected at higher rates than whites it must be a result of systemic racism. Credit risk is racist. As are teachers, cops, etc.

  38. Skip says

    “The prevailing view among progressives today is that America hasn’t made much progress on racism.” I doubt the author can support this assertion. Of course progress has been made, but there’s still a way to go — that’s the general view I see in the MSM and progressive media. There’s nothing like setting up a well worn hyperbolic strawman in the first sentence. Tsk, tsk.

    • asdf says

      The progressive view is that racial disparities in socioeconomic indicators are caused by racism, and that these inequalities of outcome haven’t improved much over time (in some cases they are worse).

  39. Pingback: Long Read: The Racism Treadmill by Coleman Hughes @ Quillette - American Digest

  40. Kris says

    I do not accept the egalitarian/history/culture argument as the primary driver anymore. Why do blacks dominate sports? Because they are physically larger, stronger, and their bodies are more adept at building muscle mass. If you’re a white kid on the playground, you know that the black kids will likely outrun you.

    Humans have been around for a few hundred thousand years. Over that long arc of time (industrialization and modern society has only been 200 years or even less) where individuals remained in their respective environments, gene sets which were best adapted to those certain environments proliferated. So if you’re on the African savannah, you should be able to walk/run for long periods of time, have black skin with additional melanin to dissipate the strong sunlight (versus adapting white skin to absorb it in places where the sunlight is less strong), and need to worry less about the deferral of gratification (i.e., IQ selection), since winters are mild and food is plentiful (in comparison to relatively harsh Asian and European climates).

    What I am trying to establish (and for what there is immense evidence in the field of Psychology) is that evolution did not act upon the rest of the body and leave the brain alone. On average (!), the IQ of blacks and mestizos is around 85, whites is 100, and East Asians is 106. And within each of these larger groups there is variation still. So a Chinese couple comes to the U.S. without speaking the language, opens a little restaurant, and their kid grows up and goes to Harvard (or more accurately, a school in the UC system, since affirmative action is prohibited by the court decision at those schools). Meanwhile the blacks in the U.S. continue to loudly protest about invisible racism in 21st century America, while being granted taxpayer-paid-for housing, schooling, meals, direct cash aid, affirmative action, favorable hiring policies and quotas, etc.!, and nonetheless continue to exhibit massive social dysfunction—which is increasing rather than decreasing.

    How can you blame whites for a 76% out-of-wedlock birth rate in the black community? Or the black-on-black homicide rate? Or the black-on-white homicide rate (27x more likely than the other way around)? Or the black-on-Asian homicide rate? Or the massive rates of incarceration? (Even if you contend that blacks are disproportionately affected by drug laws—let’s even say for sake of argument that half of them are incarcerated unjustly—the numbers are still incredibly high and a magnitude higher than whites and Asians.) Or their disastrous performance in school, on standardized tests (among six Baltimore schools recently, not one kid could pass a simple standardized test!), and college matriculation—despite additional monies being poured into these school districts (3x the amount per pupil as was spent in the 1960s)?

    • Emblem14 says

      I think the SJW rebuttal would go something like –

      the resources extended to white America, including many social programs and government subsidies in the form of housing assistance and educational investment that blacks were excluded from in the great post-WW2 growth spurt, has put black people several decades behind whites on the multi-generational path of economic development and accumulation of household wealth.

      There were historical examples of black people achieving small bubbles of economic prosperity in the past (look up black wall street), but whites nipped it in the bud with racist terrorism, setting such growth back to zero.

      Redlining and other HOA shenanigans precluded black americans from enjoying the opportunity of wide scale home ownership in good neighborhoods and accumulation of equity, which is how most of the white middle class generated household wealth.

      Even qualified black people were discriminated against by banks, making it very hard to get loans for the entrepreneurship that might have led to more black-owned businesses, employment and wealth accumulation over time.

      White flight left impoverished black communities bereft of civic resources to invest in decent schools under the property tax funded system, leading to lost generations, which compounds on itself and perpetuates the poverty trap.

      The war on drugs decimated black communities by severely criminalizing one of the only income-earning activities an undereducated unskilled black male could engage in after factory work and other unskilled manual labor disappeared as an option for economic sustenance.

      Society’s preference to incarcerate black men engaged in crime related to the drug economy for very long periods of time led to a drain of prime-age males from the community, and stigmatization of those men + lack of interest on rehabilitation led to the creation of a chronic criminal underclass.

      It is a proven fact that employers reject resumes with “black sounding” names at a much higher rate than white sounding names, even when the background and experience on the resume is identical.

      All of the disfunction of “black culture” is typical of a class of people who have, up until very recently, been explicitly excluded from systems that facilitated social mobility, and ghettoized through the unwillingness of white people to live near them or socialize with them.

      Unlike striving dark-skinned immigrants, who self-select as people with goals of self betterment, the population of American blacks resembles a normal distribution of personality types, including the unavoidable segment that aren’t equipped to succeed in modern society without help.

      As for the IQ elephant in the room, it is highly plausible that disparities in population IQ are caused by the lagging effects of environmental deprivation – a theory that’s supported by evidence of other groups who saw their mean IQ improve when their living conditions improved over time. Given that a very high relative percentage of black americans are stuck in intergenerational poverty, it’s not unreasonable to assume that overall population IQ potential is being suppressed by those circumstances.

      • asdf says

        “As for the IQ elephant in the room, it is highly plausible that disparities in population IQ are caused by the lagging effects of environmental deprivation – a theory that’s supported by evidence of other groups who saw their mean IQ improve when their living conditions improved over time. Given that a very high relative percentage of black americans are stuck in intergenerational poverty, it’s not unreasonable to assume that overall population IQ potential is being suppressed by those circumstances.”

        What evidence would it take for you to give up this view? I personally don’t find your quoted reasoning credible enough, but that’s irrelevant. In other words, what’s your “Epistemic Tipping Point”. If your beliefs are evidence based you can no doubt lay out the burden of proof necessary that would change them.

        Genetic sequencing? Another fifty years of poor black performance? 100 years?

        Is there any evidence that exist today that would cause your to give up this view if existed?

        • Emblem14 says

          It’s a good and fair question. I suppose I don’t want to write off a whole swath of humans as collectively inferior on a given dimension (or be the kind of person who does that), when the evidence is still too ambiguous. It may be a bias, but I think it’s morally preferable to give people the benefit of the doubt, especially when we all know how doing the opposite – assuming inferiority – directly led to justifications for the subjugation, abuse and defilement of human beings in living memory.

          I’d be more than willing to change my position if scientific evidence, through genetic sequencing for example, showed incontrovertible evidence of culturally independent population level differences in general G intelligence. I suspect that if and until black people start catching up in the progress charts, the nebulosity of environmental confounders will be impossible to disentangle.

          But if 50 years from now, every other ethnic group in America that ever had a legitimate beef about racism has shown steady progress in preferred life outcomes except for blacks, people will either have to conclude that there is something special about American racism that specifically targets African Americans to the exclusion of all other non-whites, or that there is something specifically wrong with the African American population that is not based in systematic oppression. The Left will always prefer the hypothesis that America has a unique, implacable vendetta against its former slave class, but mounting contradictions may make that harder and harder to take seriously.

          Of course, the fact that arguments for black inferiority were almost always coupled with rationalizations for their mistreatment is THE reason for the politically correct taboo against discussing these subjects in the first place. Most people see it as a slippery slope to rationalizing evil. And to be fair, given the strong historical linkages, people who pull on this thread kind of put the onus on themselves to prove benign intent, or hostility can be assumed implicitly.

          You just can’t separate discussions of arguments that were instrumentalized to oppress blacks, from the implications of those arguments – you have to explicitly de-link them and inoculate your points from being misused in that way, or people will reasonably assume you either don’t care about the potential harm of those ideas, or you actually mean harm.

          • asdf says

            “I suppose I don’t want to write off a whole swath of humans”

            Your always writing someone off. Above I gave a few examples of white people being written off to feed the black grievance machine. They aren’t isolated anecdotes, but they could be multiplied millions of times across the country because their issues are systematic.

            Even the examples you’ve given above are the same. I remain amazed that whites could be blame for “white flight”. Blacks engaged in a campaign of terror that turned our cities into dysfunctional war zones. What were white people supposed to do? Stay there and let their families be destroyed. These people were driven from their homes by hostile aggressors, the aggressors are at fault. If there is a battle and one side is left in control of the field (some of the most prime urban real estate in the world) then they won the battle! That they could do nothing with their spoils is their own problem.


            This continues to this day, even for those that tried to move to the suburbs. My old co-worker bought a house in a new development during the bubble. When the bubble burst the owners decided to accept a bunch of section 8 money to sell off the original units. Overnight he went from a sleepy middle class neighborhood to effectively a ghetto. His house dropped in value by half and never recovered (nearby places that didn’t get flooded by section 8 blacks didn’t have nearly the decline and recovered just fine). All of the equity he put into the house, that he spent a decade saving, was forfeit. It wasn’t a place he could live or raise kids. Don’t you think you’re “writing off” everything he put into that home? That’s a huge chunk of his life that you stole from him in the name of “racial justice” and “doing something”. Doesn’t his life matter?

            Don’t give me stuff about school funding and property taxes. Nearly every school in every state gets the same amount of funding. Suburbs pay their own way via property taxes. However, inner city schools get funding from state level taxes (mostly paid by those same suburbs). In Maryland for instance suburbs like Baltimore County only get $14k per student while Baltimore City schools get close to $17k. White people are not cheating blacks out of an education. They are in fact having the resources that could go to their own kids education stolen and squandered.


            This could have taken you five minutes to find out. Whites pay for their own kids education and then turn around and pay even more for other kids education. They are heroes, not villains. You can’t blame black performance on schools.

            And its not just Baltimore. It’s not just “separate but not equal.” School quality is mostly a question of the genetic ability of the students going there, and mixing people of widely different abilities causes a lot of problems.


            The rest of the list is the same old stuff, I won’t go through each claim. Only to say that each involved harming whites in some way based on a black grievance that doesn’t exist and in many cases is the exact opposite (its very very obvious that through AA blacks have greater education and employment success then their talents warrant).

            You write people off all the time. You write off homeless people you pass by when you don’t give money. You write off people in the third world when you don’t donate most of your paycheck to charity. Any one of us could probably reduce our consumption to the poverty line and still have a roof over our head while saving untold lives amongst the poorest. But we don’t do it. We do things sometimes, in some cases and to some degree, based on our own preferences. But none of us thinks we were born a slave whose only purpose is to be a glorified battery for some vague “humanity”.

            When you say “I can’t write off blacks…therefore X” the X is always something that writes off whites. Why is it OK to write them off? Why are they not people with rights? There is a con job here were whites are expected to put up with injustices that can’t be justified on their merits.

            Worst of all is that charity applied through government force or menacing threats of social pressure are the worst kind of charity. It’s hard to even call it “charity”. It’s more like theft you put up with because fighting is not worth it. One notes that leftist “charity” towards blacks is always extracted from middle class whites in the name of elite whites claiming how awesome they are.

            I think you “don’t write people off” when doing so makes you and/or those around you feel and about yourself. I think you do write people off when it makes you and/or those around you feel good (or at least neutral) about yourself. This is extra easy to do when we are talking about things “society” will have to do and the burdens will fall disproportionally on other people.

            And…that’s fine I guess. It’s human at least. I’d order things a different way for reasons I feel strongly about too, but at the end of the day its all tradeoffs.

            At least be cognizant where your morality comes from and why its not the be all end all. Then perhaps you can understand other people.

            “you have to explicitly de-link them and inoculate your points from being misused in that way, or people will reasonably assume you either don’t care about the potential harm of those ideas, or you actually mean harm.”

            In a sense I do mean harm. I think that people I love are being harmed in the name of taking resources and social power in the name of blacks. If they lose those resources and social power they will in a sense be “harmed”. However, it would be *just* harm. If these resources are being squandered to accomplish little…that is unjust. If this social power is used to terrorize and accumulate undeserved racial privileges and ruin lives…that is unjust. Like some 19th century Aristocrat arguing for his special privileges…they are unjust and its time to tear them down.

            Leftist use fear to foist injustices on whites. Until whites abandon guilt that campaign of fear will continue to work and leave them exploited and powerless. Only once one admits none of it is their fault and they won’t apologize will it be possible to fight back in the name of justice.

          • asdf says

            I had a much longer post that didn’t get past the comment filter. Maybe because it had links to some evidence in support and it doesn’t approve links automatically. Either way, I will have to offer a much shortened version here.

            “you have to explicitly de-link them and inoculate your points from being misused in that way, or people will reasonably assume you either don’t care about the potential harm of those ideas, or you actually mean harm.”

            In a sense I do mean harm, but I mean *just* harm. All of the people above have been harmed by programs that are supposed to help blacks. The programs themselves achieved little (sometimes were counter productive) but caused great harm to those people. That harm is real and needs to be accounted for. They are intrinsically linked.

            Let’s take a simple example. My friend bought a house some time back. For a variety of reasons his development ended up getting flooded by Section 8 renters (basically poor blacks subsidized by the government). As a result his neighborhood became a ghetto, he couldn’t live there, his house lost half its value, and he had to walk away from his equity and take a credit rating hit. It took him a decade to save up the equity he put in that house and he lost everything.

            The justification for Section 8 moving into his neighborhood is that it was an “opportunity zone”. See the dirt under which white people live in magic, and they are hoarding all the opportunity, and if only the government would pay to move black people in they would all grow up middle class.

            If I argue that white genes, not the dirt under whites, is what makes them middle class, I’m attacking the factual grounds under which is program is based. Programs like this have happened all over the country and they never work, and the reason they never work is the genes.

            Why should whites pay for programs that don’t work and have their neighborhoods destroyed? Why doesn’t the harm your doing to them matter? Why do you “write off” their struggles?

            If I successfully got Section 8 cancelled, blacks would be “harmed” in that they were getting free money to do something and now they aren’t. Isn’t that a good thing though. They didn’t earn the money, the spending didn’t cure the problem is was supposed to, and a lot of people along the way payed a huge price for it. You can only justify this kind of program if you assign a value of zero to the pain white people endured. If the other side of the scale is zero, the program doesn’t have to get much in the way of results to tip the balance.

            In a world of scarce resources, any new way of arranging that distribution is going to harm some and benefit others. Getting rid of Section 8 might harm blacks, but it will remove harm from others. I see no reason to apologize for wanting to “do harm” to blacks in this manner. It’s like doing harm to a criminal because you take back his stolen goods.

          • Emblem14 says


            The difficulty here is that you can, per your example, make a sound argument against Section 8 housing for some of the reasons you listed and others you didn’t, but justified in terms that don’t implicate racial animosity or antipathy as part of the calculus. After all, what does the skin color of the Section 8 applicants matter if you can point to predictable negative economic and quality of life outcomes from a policy? It would only be relevant in an apples-to-apples analysis of potential differences controlling for race/ethnicity. (would poor white trash also tend to “ruin” middle class neighborhoods they’re transplanted into? I would guess yes).

            Even if it’s merely a tradeoff of pain from one population to another as you framed it, you can highlight those tradeoffs without bringing race into the question. Only the tangible results – lower property values, more crime, more litter, dilapidation etc, ought to be relevant.

            Your accounting of the misguided, counterproductive effects of a lot of redistributive Social Justice type policies contain kernels of truth that are immediately undermined by your addition of, sorry to say, racist rhetoric – rhetoric that is neither core to the point of such tangible concerns nor, I think, ultimately justified philosophically or politically. I don’t think it’s empirically valid, or ethically desirable to collectivise racial groups, homogenize their various attributes into broad negative stereotypes, and otherwise create a narrative that “those people” are just no good. It might have some predictive power, or work as a shorthand to manage certain risks, but at the cost of stamping individuals in those groups with an arbitrary, frankly lazy, stigma that any given number of them do not deserve.

            Back in the day, as some others here have mentioned, many complaints similar to the ones you’re making were levied at new immigrant populations of irish, italians, chinese – and those complaining may have had valid points about the negative social/economic impact on preexisting equilibria.

            Also accompanying those observations was a lot of vitriolic racism against members of those groups – which in retrospect seems repugnant and ultimately unwarranted, as they have all successfully integrated into the American social fabric, assimilated its cultural values and bourgeois aspirational goals.

            Perhaps African Americans simply haven’t had enough time to start recovering from many of the effects of recent historical repression. Maybe they have, and where any other group would have started gaining ground, they have something else holding them back that isn’t White People’s fault. How would one know for sure? Certainly, most of the policies designed by the Left to help American Blacks have been ineffectual or counter-productive. There’s a strong case to be made that Black progress has been sabotaged by bad policies. There’s also a strong case that America pre-1980 was not a friendly place for Black people, and that wasn’t that long ago.

            By all means, criticize bad policies, illuminate the costs, protect your own interests – but to default to a conflict-oriented ethnic tribalism is an ethical and political cul-de-sac. You may think that racial solidarity is a useful tool to secure your political interests, but the more people believe that, the more likely this experiment ends in flames, and the “winners” will be damned.

          • asdf says

            “After all, what does the skin color of the Section 8 applicants matter if you can point to predictable negative economic and quality of life outcomes from a policy?”

            Because when you point this out, people call you a racist. They don’t talk about effectiveness of programs, they say if you are against this you are a racist. The only way to argue against “opportunity zones” is to point out that it isn’t “magic dirt” that helps white people succeed but their genes, so there is no point in moving blacks into their neighboorhood.

            Go read the policy briefs justifying these programs and they are full of disparate impact statistics by race. We have to drive home that disparate impact has a genetic cause the therefore is not white peoples fault and guilt can’t be used as justification for these programs.

            Also, its very obvious that the politicians supporting Section 8 are voted in by the blacks and the that blacks get most of the Section 8 money. It’s basically a competitive racial spoils system and everyone knows it. As the electorate gets browner due to immigration the amount of injustice that can be foisted upon the losing party simply grows. Blacks are not voting for what is best for society…they are voting for what is best for blacks. This is nakedly obvious in Baltimore.

            “(would poor white trash also tend to “ruin” middle class neighborhoods they’re transplanted into? I would guess yes).”

            We have a fair bit of poor white trash in our neighborhood. I wouldn’t necessarily want to hang out at their bar, but generally speaking they never commit crimes or cause public disturbances. They keep to themselves. Most of the crime comes from blacks that take public transport in and then commit crimes (of which there have been a lot). More importantly, the white trash doesn’t vote for the black Democratic politicians that have run Baltimore into the ground.

            “Back in the day, as some others here have mentioned, many complaints similar to the ones you’re making were levied at new immigrant populations of irish, italians, chinese – ”

            And as soon as the problems stopped, the complaining stopped. Since these are high IQ groups the problems stopped as soon as these people got their footing. That won’t be the case for blacks, they just don’t have the genetic potential.

            “You may think that racial solidarity is a useful tool to secure your political interests, but the more people believe that, the more likely this experiment ends in flames, and the “winners” will be damned.”

            When one side plays “defect” and the other side doesn’t, the side that plays defect wins. The correct way to handle a situation like this is some kind of tit-for-tat style strategy where if the other side doesn’t show good faith you make it clear you are going to strike back. Unilateral disarmament isn’t a stable strategy.

            I think you seriously underestimate how bad things can get when browns are a majority of the electorate. They will not care about fairness. They will not care about facts. They will take what they can by force because they have the numbers. That’s how it played out in Baltimore. That’s how it played out in Detroit. That’s how its played out in Malaysia.

            We can’t shut down brown immigration unless we can show that they add nothing to our society because of their genes. If we allow through immigration America to become majority brown we are fucked. We will not be shown any courtesy in return once white votes are no longer needed to reach 51%.

          • augustine says

            @ Emblem14

            “You may think that racial solidarity is a useful tool to secure your political interests, but the more people believe that, the more likely this experiment ends in flames, and the “winners” will be damned.”

            I think “racial solidarity” sounds loaded, but there is still something to be said for racial self-identification at the individual and group levels. Most everyone on the planet has such a self-assigned sense of identity as part of a larger set of identifiers and attributes we are all conscious of. Our socializing reinforces these things constantly and it seems only intellectual abstractions work against them. But are they inherently bad?

            Arranging our politics explicitly around racial identity, as you imply, is not really a good idea. Or maybe you would say that such a politics is *unneeded* if our liberal endowment is up to the task. But if overtly racial consciousness is toxic in politics, is it toxic everywhere else? Would you prefer that race be considered an “artificial construct” altogether? This is a fashionable view today.

            Blacks cannot associate among themselves, nor whites and Asians likewise, without there always being some risk of “racial solidarity” and overtly race-based politics. That risk may eventually be too much for classical liberalism to withstand. If people in a heterogeneous society typically associate with others of the same race according to cultural and probably biological prompts (cf. Robert Putnam’s studies of demographics), should such a tendency be extirpated in the name of equality because it seems racist? How would that be done, and by who?

        • brian jackson says

          You still seem to be suffering from amygdala hijack on the subject of race and IQ.
          Despite the fact that you have yet to master the rudiments of the English language you are now demanding evidence to disprove your assertion that blacks are a low IQ race!
          The British establishment cast the Irish as a low IQ race for centuries until inconvenient DNA studies proved the two to be all but racially identical. So the observable differences in ‘outcome’ and ‘function’ between the two peoples were down to ethnic, not racial difference. (Ethnicity is different from race because it also takes cultural and language differences into account).
          Colonial subjugation, slavery, loss of language and history have a negative effect on the cognitive functioning of any group in the exact same way as poverty in childhood effects the IQ of the individual. This is obvious to anyone not blinded by their own prejudice.

  41. Bart Simpson says

    Charles Murray:

    come inequality and IQ
    Consider the population as divided into the five cognitive
    classes that Herrnstein and I defined in The Bell Curve. Our
    point of departure is the group in the middle, those with a
    measured IQ somewhere from 90 through 109, whom we labeled Normal. Fifty percent of the American population falls
    in this category. Their intelligence easily permits them to be
    competent in all the core roles of family and community life
    and to pursue any occupation not requiring a college education. Most of them have difficulty in completing a college
    education (historically, the mean IQ of college graduates has
    been about 115), but some do so.
    To their immediate right on the bell curve come the Bright,
    with IQs from 110 through 124, representing the 75th through
    94th percentiles of the IQ distribution. Anyone with an IQ
    this high has the intellectual ability to get through college,
    though not necessarily in every major. This IQ range includes
    many of the most successful Americans. The Very Bright have
    IQs of 125 and above. They represent the top 5 percent of
    the IQ distribution. Having an IQ this high is not necessary to
    become a physician, attorney, or business executive, but extra
    cognitive horsepower gives an edge in any occupation that
    draws heavily on the verbal and visuospatial skills measured
    by IQ tests.
    As for the left-hand side of the bell curve, those adjoining
    the Normals are persons with IQs from 75 through 89, whom
    we labeled Dull (there is no such thing as a neutral label). If
    the IQ score is accurate, someone in this range is unlikely to
    get through four years of college without special dispensations. Ordinarily, the Dulls work at anything from low-skill
    jobs through lower-level white-collar or technical jobs.
    At the far left-hand side of the distribution are the bottom
    5 percent of the IQ distribution, the Very Dull, with IQs
    under 75. These include the retarded, but many people with
    IQs in this range are neither retarded nor incapacitated. They
    find it difficult to cope with school but can still be productiveIQ AND ECONOMICSUCCESS 23
    employees at menial and semi-skilled jobs, and sometimes at
    skilled jobs as well if their shortfall in intellectual capacity is
    counterbalanced by other abilities

  42. Robert Franklin says

    “Indeed, why progressives only commit the disparity fallacy in one direction is never explained.” Allow me to do so. Progressivism is an ideology and, like all ideologies, it refuses to acknowledge facts that contradict its cherished tenets.

  43. Robert Franklin says

    And yet it’s not too much to conclude that a long history of racial oppression affects black culture that in turn affects individual blacks.

  44. Very well thought out analysis, and exceptionally well written.

    I recently watched the Vice special ‘Raised in the System’ (see it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yq3uVJQN8Gw ). It is a powerful descriptive piece and has stuck with me. I come away watching it thinking that the world of poor African-Americans would be entirely different if prohibition were flipped: drugs were legal and guns were unavailable (it seems that the possession of a weapon is the main thing being used to incarcerate these children).

    I’d really like to know Coleman’s thoughts on ‘Raised in the System’. They are children. Most children grow up in closed little worlds. For these kids, their closed little world dooms them.

    • Emblem14 says

      It’s often been observed that if you were designing ways to destroy a community of people, you would implement policies that closely resemble the conditions inner city kids grow up in. Regardless of the justifications for any given policy, the results are:

      -terrible schools and low quality education
      -sub-par healthcare
      -scarcity of legit jobs that pay a living wage.
      -The only accessible activities that can satisfy ambitions to make more money are criminal enterprises.
      -Vast majority of male role models are athletes and entertainers, professions with an extremely small chance of success
      -ubiquity of life destroying drugs.
      -ubiquity of weaponry that makes violent conflict fatal.
      -zealous criminal justice system that makes it so one brush with the law can basically fuck you for life.

      And that’s not counting self-inflicted wounds like father absenteeism. Do black kids have any control over these factors of their existence?

  45. Pingback: French-Americans make only $0.79 to every Russian-American $1.00 – Better Place, Better Pace

  46. Joe Bob says

    Thank you for this outstanding essay.

  47. Carl J. Eisenberg says

    Read something else: “Stamped From the Beginning”. Humans are likely racist at the core. Writings about the inferiority of Africans is at least as old Aristotle. These attitudes are very hard to change.

    The evidence that the federal government conspired with lenders to exclude black people from participation in the housing boom is overwhelming. These policies have had the intended effect of leaving them in substandard, overpriced housing.

    Meanwhile, while it’s good to know that lynchings have nearly disappeared. Maybe the police have taken over that role, protected by the Supreme Court creating an open season on low-level black criminals and non-criminals alike, as long as they their use of force is “objectively reasonable”, which turns out to mean if they say they feel threatened. We have no idea of the scope of police violence against Black Americans, because the reporting process is voluntary.

    Those of you who think progressives discount progress, just look at America now. An openly racist president, apparently elected by hordes of white folks who subscribe to these same beliefs, state governments using “back to work” benefit programs to openly discriminate against the Black poor (Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky). In fact, state governments in general are overwhelmingly white, and their policies often reflect that.

    This post rehashes common right wing talking points about the destructive black culture and defenses of white grievance. Remember, the rightwing media endlessly sustain these supposed insults about racism, regardless of context, or truth for that matter. Watch Fox News for a week, or listen to Rush, and you’ll get an education about how white people see themselves.

  48. I’ve been puzzled by the annual “state of racism in baseball” stories that have come out in recent years. The coverage seems to conflate “African-American” and “black” (as in the linked story above). But I strongly suspect that the percentages being cited actually refer ONLY to African-Americans. (There are many MLB players of African descent who are not Americans). Eight percent means an average of only two of the players on a 25-man roster are (X), and by extension, there are a total of only 60 in the entire 30-team league. The only way eight percent could be correct is if X does not include non-Americans of African descent. But if the issue is “racial progress” why would it make sense to exclude non-Americans of African descent in the count? It may very well be that African-Americans are not as well-represented on MLB rosters as they were in the past, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that MLB is more white.

  49. Northern Observer says

    “A set of taboos and false dichotomies created by intellectuals for intellectuals”

    What a well crafted phrase. A brave and honest article.


  50. Carl J. Eisenberg says

    The whole tone of this post and comment thread is remarkably paternalistic. If you ask Black voters about what they see as their primary concern, they say RACE. You all sound like John Roberts when his court gutted the Voting Rights Act, What world do you live in? Do you not see what’s happened since? Do you seriously believe that racism played no part in Republican gerrymandering? Do any of you know what it’s like to be subject to “hints and allegations” about their behavior while shopping, going to Starbucks or try to vote? You want so desperately to be relieved of responsibility for the everyday racism that is blazingly obvious to many. Leaving the “Field” and moving to the “House” was a big improvement for some lucky slaves, but it was still slavery.

    Full equality is not a gift from you.

    • Jay Salhi says

      “If you ask Black voters about what they see as their primary concern, they say RACE.”

      Are you sure about that? The author cited the following statistics “60 percent of blacks attribute disparities in income, jobs, and housing mainly to factors other than bias, according to a 2013 Gallup poll. A more recent Pew poll found that 60 percent of blacks without college degrees say their race hasn’t affected their chances of success in life.” Not all black people share the progressive obsession with race.

      • Until their neighbors call the police on them. Or a store manager tells then to buy something or leave with 5 minutes of them sitting down in the place.

  51. dirk says

    If I may believe Yuval Harari, equality and justice for all is just something of the last time, in the Western sphere only. In Qatar and Kuwait, e.g., it doesn’t exist (yet?). He also prophesizes that the millennial old human inequality is on the brink of returning soon, not among races, but on IQ and cyberpersonality, within that same high tech Western world (and allies). So, the humanistic ideals and the Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood, now some 200 yrs old, in our world, and too hastily engrained in universal manifests, might soon appear to be something ephemeral, something for futural educational curricula, history lessons for the kids of that time to be.

  52. Pingback: Coleman Hughes on the ‘Racism Treadmill’ | Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

  53. Jeffrey Stringer says

    I would argue that the assertion in your first sentence that “the prevailing view among progressives today is that America hasn’t made much progress on racism” is invalid and therefore poisons the balance of your argument. I believe that most progressives, and I would count myself as one albeit on the left extremity thereof, are simply arguing that racism still exists. That does not mean that we do not believe that America has make progress, indeed considerable progress, over the past 300 years as to issues of race (and other bigotries as well). What is being argued as that this progress is still insufficient and that considerable work needs to be done. Those who are suggest that the battle is won, that racism no longer exists, are those who are not being honest.

    • Mark Usted says

      “I believe that most progressives, and I would count myself as one albeit on the left extremity thereof, are simply arguing that racism still exists.”

      I find ‘progressives’ views on the subject of racism totally unacceptable.

      This is because they define ‘racism’ so broadly so as to include all sorts of behaviors which are reasonable expressions of the natural/inevitable aspect of human psychology, which is to form an ethnic identity. They then apply this definition so as to regulate such behaviors in whites only, while giving all other ethnicities freedom to very aggressively express this same aspect of human nature.

      There needs to be a common definition/understanding of which expressions of this natural human psychological feature (formation of an ethnic identity) are so exclusive and aggressive that they should be deemed “racist”. There then needs to be a commitment to apply this understanding to the regulation of such expressions by individuals *to all citizens* – irrespective of which ethnic group they belong to.

  54. Mark Usted says

    The logical conclusion of this (excellent, methodical) essay is that there should be greater African Americans assimilation to standard (white) American cultural norms.

    However, the white ‘progressives’ have already covered this off (for the purposes of maintenance of their dependent ethnic minority constituencies) via their (psychotic, deeply weird) promotion of the concept of ‘cultural appropriation’. Which they promote to the extent of harassing teenage white girls who wear oriental-style dresses to Proms. Very evil and weird.

    • “there should be greater African Americans assimilation to standard (white) American cultural norms.”
      they tried that in the early 20th century. The generation of blacks from post slavery to the civil rights struggle era tried their damndest to “assimilate to standard (white) American cultural norms” all that resulted was al lot of people getting killed, going to jail and being beaten mostly by angry white mobs and police.

  55. Jeff York says

    The following is an answer that I gave to a related question at quora.com:

    I have bad news for everyone who wants racism & discrimination to end: It will never end.

    In 1968 a teacher named Jane Elliot, in Riceville, Iowa, conducted an experiment with her 3rd-grade class. Most people reading this are probably familiar with it. She announced that all the children with brown eyes were superior to all the children with blue eyes. (Something like that). Predictably the brown-eyed children felt good, the blue-eyed children felt bad. The next day she announced that she’d been mistaken. The blue-eyed children were superior to the brown-eyed children. So now the newly favored group was happy and the un-favored group was unhappy. (I may not have the details quite right but you get the idea).

    I used to work with someone named David who was from Minnesota. He retired several years ago but I still hear from him on occasion. He said that growing up there were no minorities in his small town; it was all-white. But he said that the discrimination was economic. In that town there was a right side of the tracks and a wrong side of the tracks, and woe to the (white) person who lived on the wrong side of the tracks.

    If racism based on pigmentation and the features associated with the various races, as they are commonly understood, ever ceases to exist then we’ll discriminate based on eye color, hair color, height, IQ, wealth, accomplishments, attractiveness or something else. “There’s always a junior partner in the firm.”

    Am I saying that there’s no point in fighting racism & discrimination? No, I’m not saying that. Just like there are things we can do to reduce crime but crime will always be with us, likewise there are things we can do to reduce racism & discrimination—but a certain amount will always be with us in one form or another.

    Part of the problem is that some people don’t want racism, or it’s trappings, to go away: “There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown in to the settled habit of advertising their wrongs—partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.” –Booker T. Washington

    A few years ago I read an article about a community college somewhere in the U.S. in which most of the students were black. One class had twenty black students and a white female instructor. What the course was about the article didn’t say but one day the topic of racism came up and I gather that the students were complaining about how hard their lives were. The instructor asked the students to, one by one, give an example of racism that they had experienced. Out of twenty students exactly one had a plausible story of having experienced racism. The other nineteen were just repeating things that their parents had told them. When PoC complain about systemic racism and white privilege/supremacy I consider it very likely that that’s at least 95% of what’s going on, i.e. they’re just repeating propaganda they’ve been bombarded with from birth.

    There are, of course, whites, Latinos, and others who “fan the flames” of racism and divisiveness.

    “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” —-Mahatma Gandhi

  56. One word for you: Reparations. Until black folks are paid simply because they are black, the nut-job, progressive leftist race baiters will never be satisfied. NEVER…

    • Womba Son of Witless says

      If any living American slaves or slaveholders step up, I shall gladly donate to a Reparations Fund. Of course, if belonging to a race that once participated in slavery is cause to be cited for reparations, consider this: European slavers sat off the coast of West Africa and waited for victorious African chiefs to procure their best POWs and sell them as slaves. (Arabs bought them within the interior of Africa.)
      When will the race hustlers and reparations-whiners start demanding West African nations pony up some reparations? Crickets……………………………………..

    • Jeff York says

      Brad, I agree with you but I have bad news for everyone in favor of (official) reparations—it’ll never happen. It took from 1835 to 2000, 165 years, for the national debt to go from $0.00 to $5.7-trillion. It’s taken just 18 more years for it to almost quadruple to $21-trillion-and-growing with no end in sight. If those numbers don’t scare the bejesus out of you they should.

      According to one source, since the 1960s ~$6-trillion, $22-trillion in 2015 inflation-adjusted dollars, has been spent on anti-poverty measures of which blacks have received a disproportionate amount. Blacks and everyone who encourages & enables their dysfunction will have to be satisfied with that, ~45 years of affirmative action and the ~1,000,000 Americans killed, wounded and maimed in the Civil War. Both the money and AA did more harm than good, net-net, but what’s done is done. There is no more money and likely very soon we’re going to have to make some hard choices between funding the ~20 functions assigned to the federal government by the Constitution and servicing the debt, and all the other stuff it’s been doing for the past ~60 years.

  57. Jenny says

    The overarching culture is white. If the culture you are born into, and quite probably love and appreciate, is antithetical to the overarching one, then failure by the dominant culture’s standards is inevitable. Perhaps black culture values community over academic or financial success? This is not inherently bad, it may just look bad from the perspective of a culture that values academic success over community.

    West Indian and African immigrants may do better in the US because they have chosen to step out of their own culture in order participate and compete in the white American cultural paradigm.

    I often get the feeling, reading articles like this one, that the background assumption is the white cultural paradigm is the ‘correct’ one and we should kindly help everyone else step into line ‘for their own good’.

    Otherwise, a brilliant article that I very much enjoyed reading. Thank you.

    • Jay Salhi says

      “I often get the feeling, reading articles like this one, that the background assumption is the white cultural paradigm is the ‘correct’ one and we should kindly help everyone else step into line ‘for their own good’.”

      If there are communities that choose to measure success differently and people who prefer to live that way, fine. But then don’t complain about discrimination when such communities don’t achieve the same outcomes (as measured by the conventional standards of the dominant culture). The multiculturalists seem to want to have it both ways. They praise the virtues of minority cultures as being different yet equal but then complain when the people from these cultures don’t achieve the same educational and occupational success. With some exceptions, the mainstream cultural paradigm (which you incorrectly label as white), is the one to follow if one hopes to achieve educational and occupational success.

    • gda says

      “I often get the feeling, reading articles like this one, that the background assumption is the white cultural paradigm is the ‘correct’ one and we should kindly help everyone else step into line ‘for their own good’.’

      The reason you get that feeling is that it represents the truth. Remember when immigrants came to America and were “assimilated” into the melting pot of culture? What kind of culture did you think that was? Obviously “white” culture. Now we’re told this was evil and we should worship what? Black “culture”? Brown “culture”? Aboriginal “culture”?

      Go read ‘Human Accomplishment” by Charles Murray. Perhaps then you’ll be convinced that there’s a very good reason why European culture (aka “white” culture) has overwhelmingly predominated over every other culture.

      asdf seems to be one of the few voices speaking truth here. As usual, the truth is uncomfortable, eyes glaze over, and instead nonsensical propaganda proliferates endlessly.

    • So many mentions of “white culture” and no mention the American empire, which is crumbling. I think all this inane blather about race, IQ, and culture is a distraction from what really ails Americans: loss of global supremacy.

      • Jess says

        Yes, I mean the article is well written but what is all the blathering about race, IQ and culture about? America is just now a place to shop: for a degree, for clothes etc. then leave.

    • I believe that the author is arguing that a culture of “drugs, guns and misogyny” IS inherently bad. And how better would you describe hip-hop culture in 4 words?

      We have organized our societal affairs such that the combination of drugs and guns together will make it likely that you end up either dead or in prison. It is particularly dangerous for adolescents, with undeveloped impulse control who yearn to be part of a group. Have a look at a typical inner city arrest curve – it shows a clear arrest decline from just 19 years old! The 40 year old rap star may have evaded the trap, but the masses of children following them into the drugs and guns abyss are doomed.

    • Jeff York says

      Jenny, I’m not saying this to be snarky or anything but several “stats” for black people suggest that community isn’t all that important to them. As per the FBI website blacks commit the most crime in proportion to their numbers to include killing each other. As per the CDC website blacks have the highest out-of-wedlock birthrate at ~69% (down from a high of 72%). Lots of black men not taking responsibility for the children they bring into this world. Parents deliberately raising their children to be thugs isn’t conducive to a healthy community. “Black people are the only group in America that believes that you have to have a rap-sheet in order to have street-cred.” –Charles Barkley

  58. DudeAbiding says

    Because every real and potential action is defined as racism by progressives, everyone is a racist.

  59. Grateful says

    Coleman Hughes: I am beyond impressed by your writing, clarity of analysis, and willingness to follow the truth wherever it leads. I hope to see your by-line frequently in future. I also really appreciate the thoughtful and civil discourse in the comment thread. I did not think this was possible on the internet in this day and age; more so on the topic of race. Thanks to everyone involved–well done!

  60. Grateful says

    Jenny: Overarching culture isn’t “white”. It’s human. If there’s one thing that the idiotic “cultural appropriation” movement should teach us, it’s this.

  61. William Dorr says

    Maybe progress is not made because the the Progressives themselves are the racists?

  62. JWJ says

    “… black men are still liable to be arrested in a Starbucks for no good reason”

    This is simply a false statement. Whether through ignorance or lying, I don’t know.

    From another article: “…were hanging out in the coffee shop without ordering anything. They were reportedly waiting for a friend to show up for a meeting. When police asked them to leave, they refused, so the police arrested them. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross, who is black, defended his officers, saying the pair were asked three times by police to leave.”

    That is not “no good reason”. If I am asked to leave a business by the police and I am not buying anything in that establishment, I leave.

    • they arrive in the place and 5 minutes later are told to leave. Thats not reasonable since the place is generally used as a meeting place by people in general. Others who frequent the place have said they’ve been there for long periods and weren’t told to buy or leave. Calling the police literal minutes after someone arrives is ridiculous.

      • sadf says

        I once got asked to leave a sandwich shop because I was using a table to eat a sandwich from another sandwich place. It wasn’t sit down, there was no rule against it posted, the place was empty enough I didn’t feel like I was stealing a seat, and its possible I might have bought some chips at the end if the line wasn’t long (though the owner didn’t know what so its irrelevant). Anyway, maybe the owner just didn’t like the idea that I might encourage others to do the same in different circumstances. It’s his business, he can do what he wishes.

        You know what I did when I was asked to leave…I left. Like a normal person. I also respect cops who pull me over even when I think its a bullshit speed trap. And a million other things that normal people do because they don’t assume everything is a racial incident requiring resisting the police and causing a scene.

  63. Keith P Drevets says

    Thanks for the great essay. I guess you can’t go too far wrong when you lean hard on Sowell for your research.

  64. Very thought provoking and well done. If I may contribute one additional insight into the notion that grievances cited by “progressive” activists “grow ever more abstract by the day” despite substantial progress over the past 50 years in virtually every liberal cause. Activists need grievance to survive (in terms of their life blood: funding and media coverage). They have a literal incentive to paint the pictures ever darker, speak in bizarre hyperbole and become, in some instances, violent. They will be the last to say “we’ve come a long way”. Much less say “maybe you should look in the mirror” in the process of root cause analysis. Activists will continue to stir up issues, ignore positive steps and engage in mind bending “logic” in their efforts to avoid truly constructive activities which promote respect for the “other” against whom they have arrayed their weaponry. They are incapable of saying “enough”.

  65. Dave says

    A well written piece, but Thomas Sowell has thought all this through in The Vision of the Anointed and his books on ethnic Americans’ achievement.

  66. peterschaeffer says

    “black men are still liable to be arrested in a Starbucks for no good reason;”

    Let me call BS on that one. The black men who were arrested, never made a purchase at the Starbucks in question but insisted they had a right to stay there. The police gave them numerous chances to leave without incident. They turned all of those opportunities down. The Black police chief reviewed the actions taken by his officers in detail. He found them to be highly professional which they were.

    The black men thought they could “play the race card” and get away with it. That’s the reality of “racism” in America these days.

  67. Vennard Wright says

    I loved this article… well done! As a black man, who is without question outperforming most people around me, regardless of race, I know firsthand that cultural impediments were far more real for me than racism. I experienced black classmates and associates telling me that I was nerd or acting white when I dared to speak properly or be at the head of the class. It bothered me for a long time and I tried my best to fit in, but thankfully I had uncompromising parents who put an emphasis on education over athletics or social gatherings, which contributed in no small way to my eventual career success. I just wish more people who look like me had the same set of priorities.

    • Cisco says

      Vennard, I too am African American and was raised by academically disciplined parents. Many of the experiences you’ve noted were also true for me, so I understand the enjoyment of benefits well earned. Where I view this differently is the subculture battle within the black community that rarely gets discussed. We are all lumped under the “culture” umbrella of hip hop, black on black crime, lack of quality resources, etc…when I know more people that cannot relate to the above mentioned disadvantages than those that do. While the liberal, underserved movement may be in full swing on the national scale, there are many black men and women who have averted this lifestyle silently. Still, I don’t see us doing a good job of redirecting the conversation away from national “culture” stereotypes in the black community. Moreso, I don’t see us holding people accountable that misrepresent the beauty of black culture for their political or economic advantages. African Americans are represented in every progressive field that matters (Thomas Sowell, Neil Degrasse, Jedidah Isler, plus thousands more) but “rap and violence” is black culture? Really?? What are your thoughts on how to shift the conversation to true cultural representation that does reflect the thought process we were blessed to be taught at a young age. In my mind, our culture is vastly represented amongst proper annunciation, hard working and eager learning individuals and what you described experiencing is the cultural minority, not majority.

  68. Joshua says

    To characterize that the studies found “no racial bias in police shootings” is misleading. Lethal encounters where just found to be in line with the number of police incidents. The bias is in that darker skinned people are stopped disproportionately, therefore accounting for a skewed percentage of fatalities. At least one of the studies also found that non-fatal violence was more likely for incidents involving non-whites.

    Otherwise I thought the piece well done.

  69. Dennis says

    I totally agree with your analysis, but when it comes to your proposed solution, I’m still skeptical.

    The “conversation about culture” which you say holds the biggest chance of improving the situation for blacks, I don’t think that is in any way a possible solution. I don’t see how it could be implemented.

    In that “conversation about culture”,

    – who is to say what?
    – to whom?
    – in order to achieve what, precisely?

    Culture, as you say yourself, is a totally ill-defined, elusive concept, and and there is no evidence that it can be twisted in a particular direction by a particular way of speaking about it.

    • Cisco says

      Conversation about culture can definitely influence the perception of how race is addressed. If culture is defined as a shared system of beliefs, which belief system is, in fact, greater represented within the black community? For example, the article quotes 71% of African Americans not believing the hip hop culture is benefiting blacks (paraphrased). What then do we agree is a positive representation of our culture? Is it present day S.T.E.M. advancers (Isler), the continued fight against the welfare state (Sowell, Kay Coles Jones, Candace Owens, Larry Elder, etc…), which aspect of the culture conversation best represents the black community as a whole. And if that conversation bubbles to the top instead of “click bait” topics like rap, black on black crime and police/black relations, would our society have a better understanding of what matters to African Americans aside from the skewed leftist perspective? Creating tangible evidence isn’t the problem. We can conduct comparative analysis’ with listeners and consumers once the conversation is consistently happening to test the theory of paradigm shifts. First, we need to ensure that productive discussion is happening at the highest levels and allow the by-product of that to be the positive shift in cultural understanding of the black community.

  70. Robert Casey says

    Culture seems to me to be the key thing for African-Americans now. Once the USA (and all Western educated liberal society) stopped TEACHING Eugenics/scientific racism as a “proven fact” then racism did start dying out in normal and especially educated stratems of society fairly quickly.

    What has slowed African-Americans broader success is their adoption of basically liberal sexual mores widely – especially eschewing marriage and nuclear family support as the major ethic.

    They are on this treadmill because they are following “progressive” ideals when it comes to marriage and sex – ideals which inhibit and slow individuals success while bolstering socialist politicians “leaders” success and (supposedly) then collective group success. But it isn’t working – except that as more and more White Americans adopt these liberal attitudes (like having children out of wedlock) they also find themselves – single White mothers – at the lower end of the economic ladder.

    • Moses Maimonides says

      Well-stated. But this is the Liberal/Leftist mantra. No rules, just right. They attract followers who want to do whatever they want, whenever they want. This is why abortion, a huge scourge among the black community, is their sacrament…it allows sex without consequences. Keep in mind that as with employment, until the race-baiters took over, the black community had a much lower illegitimacy rate than the white.

  71. Moses Maimonides says

    The author gets it, but then reverses the progress. Trump, because he refused to call out absolutely everyone to the right of center in Charlottesville, is a horrible RACIST, while Obama, whose race-baiting set blacks in this country back 50 years, is the hero. Until this sort of delusional reverse racism is reversed, we WON’T get off the “treadmill”.

  72. Mohammed Lamine says

    I am interested in why your comparisions were only limited to the United States. The black immigrant-American black comparision is a lot more complex than you suggest, considering outcomes are quite different outside American borders. Take Canada for example. West Indians and their children have disproprtionately worse outcomes than their West Indian counterparts in the United States, despite ostentabily sharing the same culture. This also seem to be the case in the United Kingdom, where West Indian immigrants and their offspring have negative outcomes compared to their counterparts in the United States – and even other African immigrant groups.

    The cultural explanation seems to be a lot less clear-cut when you consider a global perspective. Nonetheless, I appreciate and agree with many of the broader points this essay raises. I just wish you attempted to test your arguments more strenously.

  73. The Lady says

    What every single article like this always fails to point out is that the reason that black immigrants from elsewhere do better is because they come from countries where black people have actual political power, and with that, a modicum of self-determination. Moreover, because these are majority black countries the prevailing cultural norm is that black people are actually people.

    In the United States on the other hand, the prevailing cultural norm is still that black people are not actually people. Moreover, the entire history of African Americans since the Jim Crow era has been an orgy of destruction of any and all movement black Americans make towards achieving either political power and a modicum of self-determination. The history of burning successful black communities to the ground for the audacity of their success was, of course, left unmentioned.

    How foolish to think that being subject to the constant predations of white supremacy would have no long term effects on a people. The undergraduate who wrote this would do well to get a lot more educated and achieve a lot more wisdom before speaking on an issue like this again.

  74. Harald Waldrauch says

    Brilliant article, mate – one of the best ones I’ve read in a long, long time! Impressive esp. given that your still an undergraduate – blows 99% of professional intellectuals out of the water. Keep up the good work!

  75. Immigrant Striver says

    An excellent article. Remarkable to see such quality writing, tight logic and skillful argumentation from anyone, let alone someone so young. I especially like this analogy: “Thus, racism has become a conserved quantity akin to mass or energy: transformable but irreducible.” We’ll put.

    One quibble: the “natural experiments” described in the article are not “natural” at all as the author seems to understand when he ticks off the caveats that apply. Still, it’s a pretty persuasive argument.

  76. Peter says

    The authors and commenters on this site can continue to point out all the inconsistencies, false dichotomies, and contradictions of the social justice warrior mindset — they can continue to appeal to people’s logical, rational sides, but they are fundamentally missing the point. These very contradictions —this selective, inconsistent, one-way wielding of power *is the entire point.*

    Oh, you’d like the SJWs to have a consistent world view that applies equally to all? That’s a good one! Try again. These contradictions –this asymmetry– is the very source of their power and their ability to exert control over others. So you can point out these false dichotomies out all you want — but this is a core feature of the movement and no amount of logic and reason will make it go away.

    • Jay Salhi says

      Many of the people who read this site are ex-SJWs. I am one of them and content of the nature published here is the main reason.

  77. James says

    Should you mention that one of the papers you cite (Fryer, 2018) also found that African Americans are 21.2% times more likely to face some form of force even when the officer reported they were being compliant and no arrest was made? That the author, though suggesting that Black Lives Matter should focus inwardly rather than externally on fixing problems in their communities, advocates for Black Dignity Matters in the face of police using non-lethal force disproportionately on people of color? You even say that a pet-peeve of yours is, “When people talk past each other…when you respond to something the other person’s saying, but it’s not at all what they are saying.” You mischaracterize the Left’s entire point that police brutality, whether non-lethal or lethal, has been consistent in American history, whether that be during the Apartheid of Jim Grow or during and after the Great Migration, which took place from 1880 to 1950: http://users.soc.umn.edu/~uggen/Muller_AJS_12.pdf.

    Interestingly, I find Thomas Sowell to be the Ta-Nehisi Coates of the conservative movement. Anywhere I see a conservative individual criticize the data or ideas of the Left, they turn to Sowell, as if he has prophetic wisdom in all topics. Unfortunately, this just isn’t true. When attempting to explain the decline of Detroit in 1967, he states that 3.4% of blacks were unemployed. In Thomas Sugrue’s book, The Origins of the Urban Crisis, the unemployment rate stated by Sowell could not be further from the truth. Sugrue found that, in the 50’s and 60’s, 20% of blacks were out of work, either unemployed or not looking for a job. 30% of black youths were in the same position. Not sure what I’m supposed to do with this massive 16.6 percent (more than 5x) difference in non-working blacks, but given Surgue’s extensive and detailed research on Detroit, I would have to go with him.

    Not once did you mention segregation in your paper. This is a huge point for the Left and one of the main purposes for the reparations advanced by Coates. If you need some help finding resources on this, you could read Richard Rothstein’s book, The Color of Law, or read this paper on St. Louis segregation and the affect it has on the population: https://forthesakeofall.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/SegregationinSTL_DismantlingDivideReport.pdf

    If you want to read Coates and Chait’s debate rather than cite a random quote from his book, you can find it here: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/03/other-peoples-pathologies/359841/

    It’s also interesting to note that, in 1912, Jews were once considered to have an inferior culture and be an “inferior race”. I very much enjoy Coates’ praise for Yoni Applebaum, who address the idea of a Culture of Poverty that Chait forwards: “I bristle when I see people discuss the culture of poverty as a pathology. That’s too self-congratulatory, and too cramped a view. The reality is that, like all cultures, it has aspects that translate well to other circumstances, those that translate poorly, and those that are just plain different. And that’s no different than the Culture of Affluence.”

    You can find Coates’ coverage of Applebaum here: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/04/black-pathology-crowdsourced/360190/

    So for someone who dislikes when people talk past each other, you have done little to actually debate the Left and their ideas, instead positing your own narrow interpretation. You have already mentioned Michelle Alexander (and subsequently failed to provide an argument against her claim of how felony disenfranchisement creates a secondary class of citizens), but here are a few others that should be on your radar: Khalil Gibran Muhammad’s The Condemnation of Blackness, Khiara Bridges’ “The Deserving Poor, the Undeserving Poor, and Class-Based Affirmative Action,” Matthew Desmond’s Evicted, Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns, Ira Katznelson’s When Affirmative Action was White, Douglas Massey and Nancy Denton’s American Apartheid, and so on.

    One more thing: You didn’t come up with the “disparity fallacy”. You literally ripped that theory from Sowell’s book, Discrimination and Disparity, and his idea of “disparate impact”. Please reduce the self-congratulation a bit when plagiarizing an idea.

  78. Michael Flynn says

    “Put these two premises together, and you arrive at what should be an equally banal conclusion: if culture matters enormously, and cultures differ from one another, then differences between cultures matter enormously.”

    Really liked this part

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  81. Jonathan Hill says

    Right at the beginning of the article the author sets up a straw man. It’s not true that people don’t think that “much progress” has been made with respect to racism. In fact, I’d say that most people clearly understand how much better things are now than, say, in 1959. Moreover, if there hadn’t been such a ridiculous reaction to Obama as President, it’s my guess that things would be much, much better than they are. But from where I sit, I see a country that took a couple steps back in reaction to Obama (with birtherism, and the argument that anything he said relating to race was somehow “divisive”) and had gone down the rabbit hole with Trump.

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  83. Mr. Hughes: Wonderful job. If only 2% of undergrads wrote and reasoned as well as you do, this country would be in a much better spot right now.

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  87. ” ‘Ibram X. Kendi, another celebrated race writer, put it bluntly: “As an anti-racist, when I see racial disparities, I see racism.’ ”

    Say what? He sounds exactly like a racist to me. He sees everything as race.

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