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The Fear of White Power

new report by the American Enterprise Institute, “Black Men Making It in America,” uses Census data to show that African-American men are succeeding in the United States. Written by University of Virginia sociology professor W. Bradford Wilcox, director of research at the Institute for Family Studies Wendy Wang and Columbia University social policy professor Maurice Russel, the report reveals that more than one-in-two black males–57 percent–now belong to the country’s middle or upper class. That is up from 38 percent in 1960. Meanwhile, the share of black men in poverty has fallen from 41 percent in 1960 to 18 percent today. In comparison, 55 percent of Hispanic-Americans belong to the middle or upper class while the figures stand at 73 percent for Asian-Americans and 75 percent for white Americans. There is still clearly work to be done, but this cannot be described as anything other than huge socio-economic progress for black American males, a group often unfairly associated primarily with crime and unemployment.

However, you would never imagine such progress was going on if you were to rely on the likes of black identitarians like Ta-Nehisi Coates for news of the black condition in America. Listen to them and you might think black folks are little better off today than they were during the segregation era. The same goes for black identitarian intellectuals in Britain. When I listen to the likes of Afua Hirsch and Reni Eddo-Lodge describing how difficult things are for blacks in Britain like me, I almost feel like relocating back to Africa. Take their polemics at face value and you will believe the cards are stacked against black people today as strongly as they were in the 1960s. 

Remi Adekoya

But the question that’s puzzling me is: Don’t everyday black folks on the ground in countries like Britain and America see that things are not as bad as the black identitarians say? And if they do, why do they let them get away with making these ludicrously inflated claims? Why no push back?

A recent discussion on race I had with a black friend who is a political agnostic might help shed some light on the matter. A successful banker by day, he called me to complain about a black work colleague who, when stopped by a white traffic cop for breaking a driving rule in London, had promptly whipped out the race card: “Why did you stop me? Is it because you saw a black man driving an expensive car?”

The policeman became defensive, muttering nervously it had nothing to do with race. The whole affair ended with the officer issuing a caution, the British equivalent of a citation. My friend who was in the car asked his colleague why he brought up race when he knew he was in the wrong. “Dude, when in a tough spot with a white person, bring up racism and there’s a 99 percent chance they’ll get defensive and back down,” his colleague responded and laughed.

“I can’t stand such attitudes,” my friend declared, launching us into a debate on race in Britain. He fumed at the black ‘race experts’ claiming to see racism everywhere. “They’re so full of it, encouraging black people to blame racism for all their problems. I’ve never encountered racism in my career, nor can I claim to have worked twice as hard as my white colleagues to get where I am today.”

I told him that’s why we need to start taking on black thought leaders who yell “racism” for strategic reasons and leverage political correctness for psychological advantage. At this point, my friend’s tone changed. Well, actually he couldn’t agree with me on that one. He argued that while he personally felt it beneath him to play the race card, “Truth is, it’s the only card black people have to play in this country, so I don’t support what you’re suggesting.”

I asked what he meant. “Think about it,” he said. “If enough blacks started criticizing the victimhood narratives of black leftists who thrive on political correctness we’d be helping delegitimize [political correctness] itself. If PC is delegitimized in mainstream white society, what’s to stop things from going back to how they were in the 70s?”

My friend pointed out that despite progress for black people in many areas, whites still hold virtually all the economic, political and demographic power in the UK. In his view, the fear of being called racist is the only thing restraining whites from using their power to dominate us openly. 

“Now imagine that restraint is removed,” he said. “It’s not even about white or black, it’s about human nature, how people behave with unchecked power. A less PC Britain would be ugly, and we’d be helpless to do anything about it. You want people to be able call you nigger without fear of ostracism? Dude, we can complain in private but in public you need to remember the big picture.”

Over the years, I’ve heard similar sentiments expressed by more than a few black people who don’t buy the racialist dogmas of the identitarian left but consider them necessary to their survival because they help keep in-check what many blacks living in white-majority societies fear most: unrestrained white power. This is why black people often discuss race very differently in private (i.e. when only blacks are in the room). In private, we can be frank and slay black identity politics but in public we need to remember the “big picture” and not act to discredit it. Such calculations, driven by the instinct for self-preservation, keep many black freethinkers from decisively criticizing divisive and hyperbolic radical identitarians.

This isn’t the same thing as worrying that the in-group will label you a “coconut,” an apologist for white racism, or one of those black people who doesn’t get how structural racism works. It is a feeling, somewhere deep down, that while these leftist claims of pervasive racism may be grossly exaggerated and disconnected from reality, the constant moral and psychological pressure on white Britain to be perpetually proving it is not racist is in the interest of all of us who aren’t white. This rhetoric is a necessary check-and-balance in the racial equation and it would be an exercise in self-harm to weaken those wielding it. So while we may roll our eyes in private at paranoid visions of white racists lurking everywhere, let’s allow the race warriors to keep white folks on the defensive. At least this way, they’ll hopefully never take it into their heads to go on the offensive against us.

The fear of domination by powerful outside groups is a human phenomenon documented by scholars investigating inter-group relations in a variety of diverse societies, ranging from post-colonial Africa to Southeast Asia. In the book Ethnic Groups in Conflict, Duke University Professor Emeritus of political science Donald Horowitz argues that for groups who consider themselves “behind” others in terms of economic and political power, “[such] groups have frequently exhibited severe anxiety about threats emanating from other groups.” Their members are susceptible to believing stronger groups want to “control” and “subordinate” them, Horowitz argues. Importantly, he emphasizes that while there are often clear differences in the ethnic configurations found in say, Africa and the West, “the underlying phenomenon of group identity is at bottom the same.”

In light of past history as well as Horowitz’s comparative studies of inter-group dynamics in diverse societies, it is perhaps not surprising that a significant number of black people in countries like the U.S. and Britain harbor fears of being openly dominated by powerful white majorities. This fear of an uncertain future, especially today with the rise of right-wing populism in the West, provides fertile ground for black identitarians to operate in.

But while some black folks are driven to tolerate the excesses of the radical left by a fear of white power, the latter seem largely motivated by envious resentment of it. This is palpable in black British writer Reni Eddo-Lodge’s recent popular book on racism in Britain titled Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. In a revealing passage seeking to distinguish between racism and prejudice, she describes an incident she experienced in a Caribbean eatery:

Years ago, buying myself a lunch of Caribbean food I was greeted by a smiling [black] owner behind the counter who waited until his white customers had left before confiding in me that he saved the best cuts of meat for “people like us.” Yes, that man was prejudiced…but he couldn’t possibly affect the life chances of his white customers with his feelings against them…all he could affect in any terms was their lunch…this is the difference between racism and prejudice. There is an unattributed definition of racism that defines it as prejudice plus power… everyone has the capacity to be nasty to other people, to judge them before they get to know them. But there simply aren’t enough black people in positions of power to enact racism against white people on the kind of grand scale it currently operates at against black people.

Eddo-Lodge acknowledges that blacks can be just as prejudiced as whites but seems to believe black prejudice is harmless and not worth moral condemnation since they don’t have power in Britain. In this view, only white prejudice and racism merit concern because they have power. While this logic is seductively practical, it nevertheless strikes me as a strange kind of morality; one where members of weaker groups are not held to the same moral standards as members of stronger groups because they lack power. 

Eddo-Lodge’s stance mirrors that of Logan Browning, the star black-American actress of the controversial Netflix series Dear White PeopleBrowning claims black people “can’t be racist.” They can be prejudiced or biased, she says, but they can’t be racist. “Racism is the oppression of a marginalized group in a society that is based on white supremacy.” There you have it. Racism is solely a white problem, so oppressed minorities like me are allowed to indulge in our racial prejudices about white people without fear of moral censure. After all, who can this realistically hurt? What power do I have? 

In this way, the entire onus of responsibility for keeping diverse countries like Britain and America as unprejudiced as possible is placed squarely on the shoulders of the white majority. My sole role as a black person is to offer moral judgments on how well (or rather how badly) white people are getting on with this. Because I am a member of a “marginalized group,” my personal responsibility in facilitating a prejudice-free Britain is just about nil. See the comfortable moral high ground I’ve placed myself in? Of course, if I were a random white citizen I could not imagine finding this moral equation fair at all, but then why would any emancipated black mind care about the subjective feelings of white people who have so much power? Clearly, I must be suffering from an advanced case of Stockholm’s Syndrome.

Throughout Eddo-Lodge’s book, one gets the distinct feeling that the author’s main beef is with the black-white power dynamic rather than the immorality of racial prejudice per se. If the latter were the case, she should have been just as outraged by the Caribbean gentleman’s comments as she would have been if she heard a white restaurant owner telling a white customer he saved the best cuts for “people like us.” But she wasn’t.

I understand the psychology of this resentment. Indeed, most white people don’t need to care what black people think of them because their life chances are not dependent on black opinion. On the other hand, if you are black in Britain, your life chances—especially your career—are likely to hinge on the opinion of a white person or people somewhere along the line. You don’t have the option of not caring about white opinion. As you try rising up the ranks of your field, it is very likely those who decide how high you go will be white. It is this sense of collective weakness and dependency that infuriates many black identitarians. 

Though they approach the issue with fundamentally different emotions, the common theme running through my friend’s fearful stance and Eddo-Lodge’s resentful one is the power advantage whites hold over black folks in Britain. However, when it comes to resentment at white power, I find it somewhat ridiculous to be living in a country that is 87 percent white and yet to be offended that white people hold structural and power advantages over a black minority that constitutes less than 5 per cent of the population. Majority ethnic or racial groups tend to have advantages everywhere–not just in the West, but in Africa, Asia and elsewhere as well. Being angry that a demographic group much larger than mine has significantly more power is a fruitless exercise in perpetual resentment. 

Perhaps I’m too simple-minded, but the way I see it, in this globalized age, if I want to live in a place where people closer to my skin colour have power, I can always move to any of the 60 plus black-majority nations in the world. In these societies, it will be black people deciding my life chances, not white people. But as long as I choose to live in Britain I see little benefit in being resentful of demographic realities. 

Going by black identitarian logic, we should assume that black citizens living in societies where power is in the hands of black people, by definition, have fairer life chances than black folks living in “white-run” nations like Britain. Problem is, the realities of contemporary Africa provide us with ample evidence to the contrary. Nowhere in the world are black people more disenfranchised, marginalized and oppressed than in black-ruled, drastically-unequal Africa where 385 million children live in extreme poverty, 625 million people have no access to electricity and 91.5 percent of the inhabitants have to make do on less than $10 a day. Despite its abundant natural resources, Nigeria, where I grew up, recently overtook India to now have the highest number of extremely poor people in the world according to the Brookings Institute. That is 87 million people, or roughly half the population. Of course, a standard excuse is to blame colonialism as the root cause of all of Africa’s failures today. There is no doubt that the post-colonial socio-economic structures inherited by Africans were seriously flawed and geared towards exploitation. Building a prosperous Africa was never going to be a cakewalk, but the question is: Why haven’t Africa’s elites done much to change those exploitative structures in the six decades they’ve been in charge? Moreover, other regions of the world experienced foreign domination but are doing quite well for themselves today.

For example, much of Southeast Asia also experienced European colonialism and yet, in 1960 when the independence wave started, sub-Saharan Africa had a higher GDP per capita than Southeast Asia, at $987 compared to $814. Fast-forward 50 years to 2010, and Southeast Asia’s GDP per capita had grown by over 330% to $3537 while sub-Saharan Africa’s had risen by just 50% to $1481. The difference in post-colonial socio-economic performance between these two regions is glaringly evident. Other examples of post-colonial success stories include the oil-rich Arab Persian Gulf states, such as Kuwait, Qatar, and the sheikhdoms that became the modern United Arab Emirates. These were all former British protectorates that today boast the kind of ultra-modern infrastructure many British cities can only envy.

While the Gulf states have an abundance of energy resources, many African countries are also abundantly blessed with minerals. Problem is, they are simply being robbed blind by their despots who rarely seem perturbed at all the black suffering going on around them. If anyone ever assumed otherwise, Africa’s kleptocratic elite have demonstrated that black skin color is certainly no guarantee that power will be exercised fairly and judiciously. But of course black identitarians pretend they don’t know that the average black citizen in Britain is much better off, not just economically, but also from the point of view of their basic human rights being respected; African countries have some of the worst human rights records in the world. Clearly, these facts don’t fit with the narrative of blacks living under oppressive white rule in Britain. 

The positive news is that ordinary black Britons don’t seem to feel powerless. In the British Government’s 2017 Race Disparity Audit, people were asked whether they feel they “can influence decisions affecting the local area.” In response, 44 percent of black adults said they can influence such decisions, compared to just 25 percent of white adults. 

Also, in contrast to the claims of black identitarians like Afua Hirsch, who constantly complain about how ethnic minorities are “othered” in the UK, virtually as many Asians as whites–85 percent–feel they “belong to Britain,” as do 80 percent of adults from black or mixed backgrounds. Thus, while the goal is, of course, for everyone to feel they belong, a clear majority of all ethnic groups in Britain already do, and among those who don’t whites actually make up a significant number, suggesting more complex, perhaps socio-economic forces at play here. 

No reasonable person is pretending there is no such thing as racism or prejudice in Britain. The government’s audit shows significant racial disparities in socio-economic outcomes. Meanwhile, according to the most recent European Social Survey, 18 percent of Brits think “some races or ethnic groups are born less intelligent,” while 26 percent self-identify as “a little” or very” prejudiced toward people of other races. What the survey doesn’t tell us is the demographic break down of those believing some races or ethnic groups are born less intelligent. For instance, did some black, Asian, and minority ethnics (BAME) agree with this opinion as well? Were some of the prejudiced respondents BAMEs talking about their attitudes to whites? Whatever the case, racist opinions among what amounts to millions of people in Britain cannot simply be dismissed. Group prejudices and stereotypes exist in every human society; what matters is how they are discussed and dealt with.

I haven’t lived in Britain for as long as the people I am criticizing. I am the son of a Nigerian father and a Polish mother. I grew up in Nigeria and then spent my twenties and early thirties in Poland before moving to the UK three and a half years ago. Perhaps it is precisely because I haven’t lived in Britain all my life that I can appreciate what a wonderfully open and tolerant society this is. It is certainly a different world compared to the previous mostly homogenous countries I lived in. Despite the fact that I’m half-Polish and love many things about Polish society and culture, I feel incomparably more comfortable, secure, and welcome here in Britain as a black person than I ever did in Poland or any of the numerous other European countries I’ve visited as a journalist over the years. Having this personal experience makes it easier for me to appreciate Britain more than the black identitarians who usually have never lived in any other white-majority country. And no, this doesn’t speak badly of those other countries; it simply speaks well of Britain. 

Ultimately, I do not think my banker friend’s fears of white domination in a less politically correct Britain are justified, though I can’t pretend his forebodings about unrestrained white power did not make me pause. While I understand such fears, I firmly believe there is a huge gulf between a society where race is weaponized—to the extent black folks can count on white folks backing down once we claim “racism”–and a society where white people feel free to call us “niggers” in public. None of these options is a sustainable social model, and to suggest it is an either/or scenario is a false dichotomy. 

I know there are black folks out there who feel stuck between supporting an identity politics they often find ludicrous and the fear that criticizing it could one day come back to haunt them. The fundamental task lies in encouraging black voices to make the case, based on data, that the overwhelming majority of white Britons are not racists. Besides, if we constantly fret over which group has more power, how many of them there are, how many of theirs are billionaires—and so on—isn’t this a sure path to building a balkanized society of constantly rivalrous and mutually envious tribal groups rather than a national community united in a common destiny?

 

Remi Adekoya is a Ph.D. student researching group identity at Sheffield University. Follow him on Twitter @RemiAdekoya1 

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133 Comments

  1. Richard Brown says

    This man will not flourish in the academy with ideas like this. He will be hounded.

    • Not only well argued, but argued with great ethical conscientiousness and self-knowledge and truthfulness. Argued, too, in a systematic way, both in its consistency and its persistent reflectiveness and self-awareness and willingness to entertain other lines of reasoning. It’s also a courageous piece, and it made me feel more courageous and honest just to read it. A big thank you to Remy Adekoya!

      • Remi says

        Wow! Even my wife is not this positive about my writing:) Thanks for the encouraging words Nathan!

        • Constantin Draghici says

          I share the exact same reaction with Nathan Zebrowski. This is an exceedingly well written argument that is coming from the heart. It was a pleasure to read. Cheers!

        • While I somewhat understood the point you’re trying to make, it falls very short of being a good point.
          First of all this statement :”Over the years, I’ve heard similar sentiments expressed by more than a few black people who don’t buy the racialist dogmas of the identitarian left but consider them necessary to their survival because they help keep in-check what many blacks living in white-majority societies fear most: unrestrained white power. This is why black people often discuss race very differently in private (i.e. when only blacks are in the room). ”

          How is it possible that you or other blacks can openly acknowledge that as a group we have a conscious or subconscious fear of unrestrained white power yet fail to understand why there’s “black identarians ” pointing out insidious ways that racism functions in our lives? Why would we consider an ideology that’s supposedly untrue and idiotic to be necessary to our survival? The word racism isn’t adequately getting to the meat of the problem, that’s true, but it does not change the fact that historically we’ve had, and continue to have, a very real problem with white people, a problem we ostensibly did not create. Your admission that we speak about race differently in private is telling, I don’t see how this went over your head. We’re far past the point where white people need to violently express their racism and xenophobia, as they did during the era they were actively engaged in colonizing. We had not yet been fully subjugated or assimilated. Now, however, our societies and how we relate to each other across the globe are based on a foundation of their successful colonization,which is what we’re contending with now. There are certainly issues with the language/philosophy that certain black protestors use, but that doesn’t negate the bigger picture : unrestrained white power is a problem, and white identity is something we accept and live with as a sane concept even though we inherently realize it isn’t

        • Igor says

          As a Pole, living in Poland whole life, I can understand why you feel better in UK than in Poland. While the things here aren’t very bad, it is hard to ignore existence of certain groups that are openly racist and will respond with violence because of skin color. Of course there is law against racism, but the whole law system works rather slow, sadly.

  2. ga gamba says

    Science proved being beaten because of mere racial prejudice is only one-sixth as injurious as being beaten because of vicious racism.

    Brilliant essay, Mr Adekoya. You really ought to seek to publish some of your pieces at The Guardian. They would be a great counter weight to the drivel published each week by Ms Hirsch, which are pilloried BTL by the readership routinely.

      • ga gamba says

        Because the Graun is the prime publisher of leftist identitarian punditry in the UK and his pieces would be “a great counter weight” to it. It’s the leftist Daily Mail. On occasion the Graun publishes thought pieces contra the editorial line.

        • Bubblecar says

          “It’s the leftist Daily Mail.”

          Um, no. The Daily Mail is a poor quality mass market tabloid. The Guardian is aimed at a more educated readership.

          The Daily Mirror could be described as a (vaguely) leftist Daily Mail.

          • Peter from Oz says

            The Grauniad is aimed at an ill-educated readership which thinks that it is educated, but only knows left-wing dogma.

          • ga gamba says

            Erm…yes.

            Irrespective of readership the Graun has descended into click-bait journalism, hyped-up celebrity reporting, and it overdosed on leftist identitarianism. Too much reporting by omission.

            I’ve been a reader since I was lad; we used to get the international edition that included reporting by Le Monde posted to us weekly. It was printed on ultra-thin paper much like the old airmail stationary to reduce the weight and postage so one had to be so careful not to tear it. Until five years ago it was still a fine newspaper. Under the last few years of Rusbridger’s leadership and now Viner’s this is no longer the case.

            The only remaining quality and credible UK newspapers are the Times and FT.

            The only reason to read the Graun is the comedy of its punditry, the cricket reporting, and the BTL comments, often which are more informative than the articles themselves.

        • Bubblecar says

          Well, many of the Guardian BTL comments these days are by refugees from the Daily Mail, who seem oddly dissatisfied with their home turf Comments sections.

          Always seems to cheer them up when they sneak over to moan at Remoaners, sneer at Snowflakes, whine at women, bark at blacks, growl at gays, scoff at Scots etc.

        • Tom says

          As someone who reads the Guardian everyday (sometimes begrudgingly) I’m sure this would go down well with the readership. Despite the drivel posted in most opinion pieces, the comments make it clear that the readership doesn’t buy any of the identity politics nonsense that is consistently published.

  3. Anthony Taylor says

    Great essay!! I agree with pretty much everything said. As a white man living in Britain I find it sad that other ethnic groups don’t feel safe enough to speak out against the identarians mentioned in the essay.

    It is my personal belief that the unchecked spread of the identarian dogmas will lead to the outcome their supporters would like to avoid, an increase in white supremacist thinking and political support. A rather ironic outcome!

    We need to avoid appeals that explain the world based on skin colour for example. We must treat people as individuals and attribute success to competence, nothing more. In this world everyone has the opportunity to succeed, regardless of group identity.

    • Remi says

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments Anthony, great last paragraph, much agreed!

    • “It is my personal belief that the unchecked spread of the identarian dogmas will lead to the outcome their supporters would like to avoid, an increase in white supremacist thinking and political support.”

      It doesn’t even need to go that far to negatively impact minorities and the country as a whole. I would argue there’s a limit to how much anti-white bigotry even liberal people will tolerate before they become desensitized to claims of racism or to minority concerns in general. Resentment doesn’t have to manifest itself as hate. It might simply lead to apathy among embattled majorities, which could potentially have a more harmful overall effect on minority groups than pockets of hateful, violent extremists.

    • garretso says

      Good point. If everyone is going to call you a racist – no matter what you do, then why bother to treat every person as an individual created in the image of God?
      Go with your tribe! I think thats how it works in prison.

  4. Very interesting article. Well reasoned in my opinion. This is why I come to Quillette, to read diverse opinions on important topics.

  5. H2Love says

    A brave, morally responsible article which will do more to enhance the opportunity and success of black people than any of the reprehensible and distorted identify politics being spouted by SJW’s of late. I am not black but I am a woman and could identify with how tempting it is to slip into this manipulative way of thinking (replace the word black with woman) and decry our “male oppressors” – which is of course nonsense, untruthful and unhelpful.

  6. A Contrarian says

    I believe that all humans are innately racist. I also believe different races and ethnicities have different average and median IQs. I believe these things multiple studies, life experience, self-reflection, and sheer common sense confirm them for me.

    Neither belief affects the way I relate to individuals. I am sufficiently well socialised and civil usually to suppress the first belief, and for the second, am only interested in how well that individual and I can relate and communicate, and how it defines their suitability to undertake a task that affects me.

    I am a member of an ethnic group which has a lower average IQ than some others, and have lived and worked in places in which I was very obviously in the minority, although at the moment I’m in the majority.

    Guess my identity.

    • “I believe that all humans are innately racist.”

      Phew! It is only a “belief” so proof isn’t necessarily required.

        • Nope – not one iota. Read your own article again. And once you look past the sensationalist title something else emerges. Given your lack of obvious talents, i’ll pick out a choice quote:

          “The idea of in-group bias is well established in behavioral science, and it has its roots long ago, in humanity’s tribal era. “

          • A Contrarian says

            One day, if you’re lucky, and honest, you’ll learn. meanwhile, keep up the ad homs. They’re vastly entertaining.

          • Not from likes of you. I mean what is it that u have taught me there? You were wrong and I was right – and yet you are thoroughly dishonest over it. I mean if u were right – you would have countered it the argument. But you couldn’t

            “meanwhile, keep up the ad homs. ”

            It is called insults and NOT ad homs. Fuck! You are wrong even in this.

            And you started it – dumpling.

          • A Contrarian says

            “Not from likes of you.”

            Correct. If you’re observant, thoughtful and reflective you’ll teach yourself. It can take a while, though. Decades, in fact. But, that’s one of the things lifetimes are for.

            In deference to other readers, who doubtless find spats tiresome, these will be my last words in this exchange.

          • Lol! You shouldn’t have started. It was meaningless. And you had nothing to say.

            ” If you’re observant, thoughtful and reflective you’ll teach yourself. It can take a while, though.”

            Pity it didn’t work in your case. You are dishonest and somewhat of an agitator – particularly over Race.

            “In deference to other readers, who doubtless find spats tiresome,”

            Who are all functioning adults and can skip over this. And do not need patronising or condescending. You are good at that aren’t you – dumpling?

    • Skeptic says

      Except this set of beliefs is entirely false and you have no justification for holding them, This is not a matter of “”political correctness” but something that is entirely wrong, It has been shown repeatedly that are no meaningful diffierences in intelligence, IQ, or whatever between races nor is there any evidence that people are inherently racist. People, however, do tend to be inherently uncritical thinkers and cling desperately to their favorite pet theories engaging in immense feats of mental contortion to rationalize away overwhelming evidence to the contrary, as you so helpfully demonstrate.

      Note that when someone calls themselves a “contrarian” it’s usually a screaming red flag that they hold as core beliefs all manner of silly, discredited, pseudoscientific, nonsensical blather and woo.

  7. derek says

    This isn’t about race. This is about using whatever leverage is available to gain a short term advantage. People will notice and respond differently to people speaking a different language, different races or ethnic background. In those situations it is easy to manipulate people as they are forming the picture of the situation in their minds.

    The real question is whether it is effective. I don’t think it is ultimately. These situations can turn into zero sum games very easily. Maximizing divisions makes the democratic process about rival ethic interests instead of contests between different solutions to thorny problems. Public administration where that is the norm is usually very bad.

    And it turns pathological with the officially sanctioned rape, where accusations of racism turn into a cover for evil.

    Racism is a serious accusation. We don’t have to look very far to find manifestations of evil done for racist motives. Using it to weasel out of a speeding ticket may seem sharp. Having a word that will stop people in their tracks is very useful, an unbelievable tool that can be used for good.

    Idiots are throwing it away. I now automatically look for someone concealing evil when the racism accusation is thrown around.

  8. KD says

    Its always strange to me to read an acknowledgment that society has imposed social norms that serve the racial interests of Blacks (like not being able to call someone n______ in public) yet the simultaneous claim that Blacks have no “power”–what is “power” if not the ability to impose social norms?

    If traditional Christians were able to impose their traditional social norms concerning homosexuality on the public, I don’t think anyone would be able to pretend that non-Christians have the “power”.

    Moreover, if the concern is the reality that people generally vote for politicians that resemble them, and so a racial minority in a majority white country isn’t going to end up with a lot of elected representatives, why not move to a majority Black country? It just seems like a package deal, if you want Euro laws, norms and prosperity, your going to have to accept Euro politicians.

    • “why not move to a majority Black country?”

      That is a silly thing to say.

      In actual fact in UK there are plenty of minority politicians and in all major parties. That is not an issue.

      • A Contrarian says

        ““why not move to a majority Black country?”
        That is a silly thing to say.”

        Why so? Justify that statement, please. With more than just assertions.

        • It is a shitty thing to say for people to improve their lot. It encourage being closed-minded dogma and stagnation.

          So should everyone protesting for whatever just shut up, because it offends bottom feeders? Of course not.

          • A Contrarian says

            Moving country in the hope of improving one’s lot seems to be rather popular at the moment. Must the traffic be all one way? If so, why?

          • Irrelevant question. This has nothing to do with non-whites in white majority countries who are already present. And telling them to leave or just accept how things are. Gosh! How dare the uppity niggers try to improve their situation or fight their corner.

            So whitey is going to pipe up and tell them to fuck off!

        • KD says

          I guess I don’t understand. If I immigrate to Poland, for whatever reason, it seems pretty strange to complain that I am oppressed because all the politicians are Polish and I am Austrian or whatever. If I can only avoid oppression by being governed by Austrians, then the only option is to move to Austria, no?

          Its all the more strange in places like UK and America, where whites have been more than agreeable to adopt social norms intended to make minorities feel more comfortable, that you can complain that white politicians are really closet klansmen or something, and minorities can only feel comfortable governed by their own (rather, that would be an express criterion of racism as it was formerly understood). Yeah, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden are really the return of the klan.

        • KD says

          Actually, the more I think about it, the more I have to call bullshit on the whole thing.

          No group has the “power”. Power, commonly understood, is authority to make decisions, which is generally concentrated in a few individuals (say in the US, Congress, Presidency, Supreme Court, Administrative Agencies, Federal Courts, etc.). Certainly, if Black nationalists captured the federal government, they would use their power to benefit their racial group and harm other groups, but the current regime does not appear to be unilaterally composed of ethnic nationalists of a particular stripe, so these efforts come out in the legislative wash.

          Last time I checked, there were no openly avowed white nationalists or similar ilk in Congress, the Presidency, the Supreme Court or anywhere else, liberal hyperbole aside. But even if there were, there are fair and free elections for these offices, where minorities are able to cast their votes and speak their views. Americans were certainly willing to elect a Black man to office for two terms.

          Now groups have benefits, but is it really the case that social welfare programs disproportionately benefit only the ethnic majority in the UK or the USA, and stint minorities? You can look to college admissions, federal jobs, minority business initiatives as well as the social welfare programs. I suppose we can find some statistics on medicaid rates by household, but I think we know what the pattern will be, which will not be consistent with policies established by implicit “white supremacy” or something.

          But any multicultural nation (that is stable) has an ethnic bargain of one kind or another, and like any bargain, it goes both ways. The only way to avoid an ethnic bargain is to relocate to a place where that is ethnically homogeneous, but the downside is that it may be poorer, politically less stable, and with a less generous social net.

          http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/politics/faculty/chandra/ps2001.pdf

  9. LAW says

    The thing that has always bothered me is this idea that only white people can be racist, because they have power. And that other races can be as “prejudiced” as they want, and that’s not “racist”.

    So…what happens when minorities get power? Are they just going to turn off their prejudice? Of course not. And that’s what’s causing issues in society right now. As you state, minorities are moving up in socioeconomic status. That’s great, and we all have strived for that.

    However, with that change comes the burdens of power. There are plenty of black people deciding life outcomes – managers, entrepreneurs, authors, academic leaders etc. Those people most certainly can be racist, by any definition of it. It is absurd to claim to that Ta-Nehisi Coates isn’t incredibly powerful in the literary community, or that Barack Obama doesn’t wield global influence. These people can make or destroy lives, and racism in their hands is far more powerful than it would be for 99.99% of white people.

    And in a society where we want to create more and more black leaders, it is incredibly dangerous to be raising them with the message that racism against whites is OK, for “us”. White people see this happening, and rightly are skittish against working to give power to black people who have been told it’s OK to hate white people.

    Or to put it differently, the whole “prejudice” vs “racism” thing is a trap. Neither is acceptable, and if your only defense for “prejudice” is that you don’t have power, well, don’t be shocked when you never get any power. After all, any power in your hands would simply be creating a new “racist”.

    • Interesting point, and you don’t see it being discussed by mainstream pundits – for obvious reasons. But, really, the game the leftist identitarians are playing is a game of power. They’re not interested in leveling playing fields; they’re interested in changing the rules and shifting the balance of power in their favor. Why wouldn’t white people feel uneasy about being made minorities in their own countries considering where we’re at today and all of the awful, racist bullshit that passes for journalism and national discourse today?

    • cc says

      As examples that I know, in America there are major cities where the mayor, chief of police, and a majority of the city council are all black. Is that not power? And a few years ago that was when we had a black president and black head of the justice dept. Not power?
      When racism is strictly linking to power (ie blacks can’t be racist) it is ignored that this means we non-blacks should be wary of letting blacks get power. Look at Iraq or Africa–whenever one tribal group gets the presidency that group gets all the gov jobs and perqs. That is where this tribal thing leads.

    • A Contrarian says

      “““So…what happens when minorities get power?”

      The Jewish effect?”

      Lordy. Is this the Kool-Aid speaking, or have you been at the Toilet Duck?

      • Ah yes… this must be one of them witty put downs from an IQ 85.

        Jews more often than not are highly talented and successful, yet visible minority in many countries. And they just as often face extreme hatred and prejudice.

        In Europe, for example, one bell-end, one of your brethren perhaps, tried to seriously wipe them all out.

        But it is interesting the reputation they acquired… despite all their “power” as minority all the rumours the hatred and whatnot.

        So it was well worth pointing out what can happen if a minority became powerful.

        Gosh! The bottom feeders usually aren’t good at thinking are they?

        • Mark says

          Regarding @ReadingNomad, I think the Dunning-Kruger effect might be more apropos.

          • Lol! @Mark it really must be. Especially when people do this:

            “I think the Dunning-Kruger”

            When they think throwing fancy terminology gives them special merits. So you had nothing to say other than using another name – you came back to be more nasty towards me.

            See, I can do this far more simply and straight forward. “You are a retard”.

  10. Fran says

    I learned about racism when we moved to a village development project in central India. I was 9 and my brothers all younger. Having spoken Oriya, we were learning Hindi. Some of the kids shouted ‘white faced monkeys’ at us, and we responded ‘black faced monkeys’. Those kids went to their parents, who complained to my parents: we were severely punished. Needless to say, over the next 8 years, we never played or hung out with those kids.

    Pulling the racism card when it does not exist leads to resentment on the part of the ‘dominant’ group, and certainly blocks human interchange. When the black guy got out of a ticket by pulling it, he left behind a cop that resents blacks. Racism is a two way street, and it is normal to react negatively to being blamed for things one did not do. Most of the people where I live hear continual messages of how they are responsible for robbing and mistreating Canadian aboriginals. I can assure you that they resent them and avoid interacting, but would not say so in public.

    60 years later, my Indian friends are still those who would be too proud to pull the racism card. I have also seen the bitterness, conflict and distress that can develop when one of their kids discovers identitarian reasons for his teen aged angst.

  11. Meerkat says

    “My friend pointed out that despite progress for black people in many areas, whites still hold virtually all the economic, political and demographic power in the UK.”

    According to the most recent census (2011), whites were 87% of the population of the United Kingdom, and they skew older than the population as a whole. Older people have had more opportunity to accumulate wealth and in many countries are more likely to vote. In any case, wouldn’t it be a bit weird if they didn’t hold the majority of the economic, political and demographic power? Wouldn’t that be a bit like apartheid South Africa?

    • John Drake says

      If everyone were middle or upper class, these distinctions would be meaningless. But given that not everyone is equal, it is inevitable, short of a “Harrison Bergeron” situation, that some will accrue more than others. Hell, even in “Harrison Bergeron,” *one* individual is the Handicapper General, as not everyone can be the Handicapper General, anymore than everyone can be the Prime Minister or the President.

      There is no end to the identitarian strife the left seeks to foment.

  12. The more I think about all of this, the more I wonder to myself why we should want diverse societies at all.

    • Deafening Tone says

      The prevention of ethnic echo chambers is a good reason to want a reasonably diverse society. It just matters how that is accomplished justly for all.

    • Shenme Shihou says

      We shouldnt want diverse societies. We also shouldnt ban all immigration. If people of diverse backgrounds want to come to our country and they will be a net positive for society then, by all means.

      Diversity is fine under certain conditions, but diversity certainly isnt our strength.

  13. Rick says

    The biggest irony of intersectional dogma is that it has no moral justification for white people “sharing power.” It has to rely on liberal axioms because intersectionality uses the post modern lens to view every interaction as a power play. Using their own logic (without having to trot out liberal axioms and morals), there is no justification for white people to cede power. That is why they don’t actually abhor racism, just power.

  14. Bubblecar says

    This is a fine and carefully written article, but reading some of the racist comments under it does tend to reinforce the idea that blacks in a country like the UK still have reason to be wary of complacency.

    It’s not that long ago that openly racist attitudes were still commonplace in the UK and other Western nations, and racists themselves are quick to assert that the only reason this changed is due to the “imposition of political correctness”, something they much resent.

    Given the growing hostility to “PC” in some quarters, we can expect the pendulum to swing back to overt racism to some degree, so I wouldn’t be too quick to celebrate the end of white Western racism.

    • John AD says

      I’ve read the comments twice now, and I can’t see the racism you’re accusing some folk of.

    • LAW says

      Out of curiosity, which comments do you find “racist”? One of the irritating things about any discussion involving race is that you inevitably get people lobbing vague accusations of “racism”.

      Please give examples if you’re going to come in here and start call people racist. Thanks!

      • Bubblecar says

        I was referring to the posts by Contrarian, who seems convinced that everyone is innately racist, that this is how things should be and those objecting to racism are just “pretending”.

        While this kind of thinking now meets much social disapproval, there are plenty of people out there seeking to portray that disapproval as “an attack on free thought” etc.

        • John AD says

          Interestingly, Contrarian stated his conscious choice and effort to treat people as individuals, in direct opposition the what he believes to be the innate human bias that he’s calling racism (and which the Time article he linked to sensationally also called racism). Whatever truth there is in his statements about the facts of human nature (and he doesn’t appear ill-informed – the science seems to be pointing towards a reality we would rather not have and which would be astonishing if it wasn’t so), I don’t think it’s fair to represent him as thinking, of innate racism or bias, that “this is how things should be”.

          It is no doubt true that some folk will seek to illegitimise, via claims to protection of free speech, legitimate disapproval of abhorrent opinions. But it is also true that some ill-willed folk will take advantage of the fog of confusion, outrage, and counter outrage that is created by misrepresenting frank and honest opinions (however provocatively expressed or misguided they might be). The exchange between Contrarian and Reading Nomad is a nice example of how quickly a comment thread can degenerate when such a frank and honest statement is followed with a dismissive personal attack.

        • LAW says

          “Everyone is innately racist” is something you hear from a lot of Black Lives Matters types and their allies. I didn’t even see that comment as terribly controversial.

          The ridiculous reply, calling the commenter “whitey” and attacking him, causes an unproductive exchange. That’s a perfect microcosm of the world right now, where someone says something uncomfortable but probably true, is attacked personally, and then recoils and becomes defensive.

          Here’s a novel idea – don’t use someone’s race and gender as a pejorative. Is that so much to ask? If a black woman said something, and someone replied “whatever, you’re probably just some dumb black chick”, everyone would understand if she flipped out and said something less than ideal in response. Why isn’t the same understanding given to a white man?

  15. Pretty good article, but in no way is an American in the top third of the income distribution “upper class.” The upper class is a small group of mostly very wealthy people characterized by philanthropy, intergenerational wealth transfer, and not having to work. Top-third incomes start around $80,000 a year, livable but not exactly upper anything.

  16. Jezza (Jeremy Clarke) says

    Bloody Poles! Coming over here taking our jobs!

  17. Zack says

    Very thoughtful piece, yet another Quillette gem that expands my thinking and adds nuance to my current understanding (or lack thereof). Thank you for this!

    I have heard much about liberal whites being browbeaten into ideological submission and political apathy, for fear of being ostracized both socially and/or professionally, especially in academia. The few minorities I have spoken to about the excesses of identity politics all agree with your friend that it is a ludicrous situation, but do not feel comfortable criticizing it in public. These friends of mine can even concede that the rhetoric of racial power dynamics and, in extreme cases, reparations or the claim that blacks cannot be racist, is more divisive than helpful, but are reluctant to openly oppose it. I never could fathom why, but I now understand what they had tried to explain to me.

    This bit of irony I appreciated most:
    “In this way, the entire onus of responsibility for keeping diverse countries like Britain and America as unprejudiced as possible is placed squarely on the shoulders of the white majority. My sole role as a black person is to offer moral judgments on how well (or rather how badly) white people are getting on with this. Because I am a member of a “marginalized group,” my personal responsibility in facilitating a prejudice-free Britain is just about nil. See the comfortable moral high ground I’ve placed myself in?”

    This not only allows identitarians to take the moral high ground, it perpetuates the very power dynamic they are railing against. Responsibility is power, and abdicating it excludes oneself – and in this case, the group one belongs to – from having any power to bring about the change they claim to advocate for, instead choosing to guilt the white majority into doing it for them. They can have their cake and eat it too.

  18. Northern Observer says

    “Victim Group” prejudice is a morally corrupting to the victim group itself and impedes its individual members in their attempts to rise in the social hierarchy. It’s very clear, so why do people indulge in it? Because it’s simple and effective for small victories. It’s very much a win the battle, lose the war strategy.

  19. TJR says

    A good rule of thumb is that in any society there is an inverse correlation between how much a certain prejudice is talked about, and how prevalent/serious it is.

    In the west at the moment racism and sexism are being talked about all the time, precisely because, compared to almost every other society throughout the world and throughout history, the levels of racism and sexism are remarkably low, and hence very visible when they occur.

    In genuinely racist and sexist societies, these things are just normal and don’t get much discussion.

    Similarly, in the west at the moment class prejudice is rarely mentioned.

    (In a similar way that murder is rare and hence gets reported, whereas people just getting on with each other is common and hence doesn’t).

  20. NomNom says

    Your friend’s rationale for “keeping white people on the defensive” has a fatal flaw: When society pushes too hard and a common set of people start to realize that nothing that they can do will win them any shred of sympathy or recognition from the allegedly aggrieved group, they will become resentful, spiteful and angry towards the aggrieved group. Essentially, the author needs to ask his friend: “What happens when, as a result of always being on the defensive, white people realize that they can never be right, and that no mater what they do, we will always call them racist?”

    The answer is that it will suddenly, without warning, become okay to be openly racist. Your friend’s rationale will work in the short-term, but I think it may result in his worst fear becoming true in the long-term. We all know how dangerous it can be when a majority demographic becomes spiteful and angry.

    • Agreed. The current swing to the right is illustrative. And the concurrent hysteria on the left stems from the realization that the majority is done being held hostage by PC.

  21. Gonout Backson says

    “…one gets the distinct feeling that the author’s main beef is with the black-white power dynamic rather than the immorality of racial prejudice per se.” Of course, it is. The leninist concept of “racism=racial prejudice+power” betrays it quite candidly.
    Absolutely brilliant, Panie Remiku, and elegant to boot.

  22. AA says

    Great article! You argue very persuasively, careful to consider multiple arguments and provide well-reasoned judgments to evaluate them. Unfortunately, the leftist SJW is not interested in reasoned arguments and the burden of providing rational support for assertions as you are. For them, white racism has a spiritual significance, an incalculable injustice that only a total transformation of all political and economic structures will undo.

  23. cc says

    There are several things that black identitarians don’t understand about the world:
    1) not all white people are “advantaged”. There are in total numbers far more poor whites in England or the US than poor minorities (not %, in #s). Many whites are passed over for promotion, not particularly popular, never given a management job, laid off at some point.
    2) Blacks in the US (where I know the numbers) have been forging ahead.
    3) It takes a long time to get ahead as an ethnic group once barriers are removed. There was a time when job ads in NYC said “no Irish need apply” and the same for Chinese on the West Coast of the US. Now the US Chinese make above the national average, but it took a long time.
    4) There is such a thing as over-playing your hand. When every Republican politician in 30 years has been called a racist, and now many activists are calling all white people racist (in spite of rising numbers of inter-racial marriages), it can reach a point where there is nothing to lose if you are an actual racist because you will be called one anyway. For many activists there is nothing a white person can do to prove they are not racist since they are tarred with the original sin of being white. This does not conduce to harmony.

  24. BFF says

    I really appreciated your piece, Mr. Adekoya. It definitely gets at the heart of why the reductive identitarian narratives (and not just the ones around race but gender, sexuality, etc) have become so pervasive, why people feel justified in following them, and what people miss in the process.

    It is difficult to voice any sort of disagreement with these narratives for fear of being called a “racist,” which can be a psychologically powerful deterrent. I’m a political Leftist. And until recently, I towed the reductive identitarian line and left ridiculous statements unchecked in order to be seen as the “good white ally.” But my views have privately shifted in the last few years…

    However, I find myself holding back opinions. For example, I pretended to like the film “Get Out” when it came out; but, privately, as I thought about it, I thought it was a pretty mediocre film that unnecessarily stigmatizes interracial relationships and promotes caricatured version of black and white people. I privately guffawed when Jordan Peele claimed to be pushing for an “honest conversation about race” by making the film – the conversation is anything but honest and has been going on for most of the last decade in my circles with very little concrete action.

    I also probably wouldn’t say aloud that I thought the concept of “race” was sometimes used to “red bait” Bernie Sanders during the 2016 Democratic primary and onwards – an argument also made by Dr. Adolph Reed, who I mention below.

    Some people would probably dislike it if I brought up the fact that black people are not the only population impacted by police-involved killings in the United States. Some people would dislike hearing that US incarceration rates would still be among the highest in the world even if we removed the racial disparities.

    I find myself not voicing disgust when an upper middle class black friend jokes that she thinks “No excuses!” when she sees a white homeless person.

    There really are a number of examples of these situations. Some of them are more toxic than others, but they occur pretty often for me because of the company I keep and the HIV and health equity work I do. I have started becoming a bit more politically abstinent like the friend you mention in this piece – I still have my Leftist, social justice focused views but I’ve scaled back my participation in campaigns and organizing because of the presence of the toxic dynamic and to focus on a career in public health.

    I will add that there are US-based black Leftists critiquing the reductive identitarian narratives. Dr. Adolph Reed, Dr. Kenneth Warren, Paul Street, Ms. Sheryll Cashin and Dr. Barbara Fields are names that come to mind.

    Dr. Reed, in particular, has been pushing back against this narrative for decades. He’s recently written some great pieces for NonSite.org:

    https://nonsite.org/author/adolph-reed

    I’m sorry that this is such a long response. I really enjoyed your piece.

    • Ken says

      I’ve been going through something similar. In my case, it wasn’t the movie Get Out that caused anxiety. Instead, it was La La Land and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri. I love both those movies, but the sheer number of identity politics-based, angry articles and tweets about them during Academy Awards season started to make me question my taste. I’m largely over it now , but it was the first time I noticed something felt off.

    • Remi says

      Hi BFF, thanks for your great and thoughtful comments. I found fascinating your talk of pretending to like that movie etc. I’ve long suspected there is much of that going on right now on the white Left.

      I found this statement below you made the saddest though and think it shows a lot how some black folk now believe having black skin colour in a white-majority country is the only obstacle anyone could have to having a successful life right now.

      ‘I find myself not voicing disgust when an upper middle class black friend jokes that she thinks “No excuses!” when she sees a white homeless person.’

      You can’t get less empathetic than this:(

      Thanks again for your great comments!

      • BFF says

        Thank you for your writing. It’s very validating for me to read this as a white Leftist, and I’m sure there are other Leftists, white and non-white, who would appreciate this conversation.

        And, yes, lot of white liberals and progressives have embraced a sort of “performative woke-ness.” There’s immense pressure to conform to it, and there’s this sleight of hand that is used to allow ridiculous, factually inaccurate utterances to go un-critiqued just because a person of color said them.

        I work in HIV prevention and linkage to care, and I’ve seen conspiracy theories about how HIV and syphilis are US government initiatives to eliminate black people go unchecked in the health center where I work. I was made out to be a fool for objecting to a co-worker’s assertion that the black men in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study were being injected with syphilis by the US Public Health Service, which is not what happened at all. That fact doesn’t make the study or medical racism any less unjust, but it’s irresponsible to allow those ideas to go unchecked within a population that is already mistrustful of the medical profession.

        I really could go on and on, but thank you again for writing.

  25. WW says

    Is it wise to trust data from the Institute for Family Studies? Aren’t they dangerously close to being a hate group? The SPLC designated them as such and I know they’re unscrupulous themselves but something something broken clock.

  26. Emblem14 says

    Thanks for “complicating” the discussion about identity politics, which is usually reduced to caricature, by revealing some of the conflicted motives people have for supporting things which they know aren’t exactly right or true, but do so in order to stave off the perceived risk of something far worse.

    The “lesser evil” logic of your friend is understandable, and it’s justification is based on a self-reinforcing feedback loop of mistrust.

    It’s natural to be fearful when, as a minority, you know that your fate is totally dependent on the prevailing attitudes of the majority toward members of your group. Resentment is a predictable outgrowth of feeling powerless and impotent to control your destiny without the “permission” of others.

    Of course, whenever a member of the majority group mistreats a minority out of prejudice or bigotry, it validates resentment and makes belief in individualism seem naive and delusional – a pipe dream for suckers. In turn, when members of the minority group publically articulate this resentment, weaponize it and fuel a narrative that society is an inescapable zero-sum struggle for power between different identity-delineated interest groups, this undermines any reason for the majority to “de-Otherize” the minority groups through adopting a more universalist, humanist, individualist outlook. Why should they, when the minorities themselves seem to embrace and internalize their “otherness” – their structurally embedded separateness from “normalcy”, and treat it as a fait accompli?

    If a minority group asserts an unbridgeable difference or conflict with the majority, and contempt for the everyday social pressures to conform to majority customs and norms, this automatically generates the rebuttal to idealistic notions that we can ever get past our differences to become a society that instead emphasizes commonalities under a rubric of shared values and obligations.

    So, universalist liberalism, one of the only ideologies that’s committed to erasing arbitrary, culturally imposed group characteristics as determinants of individual potential, is being undermined from both directions by people whose fear of other people’s tribalism incentivises them into bolstering their own tribalism in self-defense.

    This is a tragic example of the Prisoner’s Dilemma writ large – a symptom of an underlying lack of faith that a society of mutually assured rights and individual dignity for everyone is even possible unless that society is culturally and demographically homogeneous.

    The lack of trust becomes a self-fulfilling phenomena which justifies the lack of trust.

    • Remi says

      Wow, just so you know, I copy-pasted that comment into a word doc to chew on later. Delicious stuff, thanks! As you said, a lot of it is fuelled by a virtually self-perpetuating mutual mistrust and fear.

  27. Amy Marie says

    “Perhaps I’m too simple-minded, but the way I see it, in this globalized age, if I want to live in a place where people closer to my skin colour have power, I can always move to any of the 60 plus black-majority nations in the world. In these societies, it will be black people deciding my life chances, not white people. But as long as I choose to live in Britain I see little benefit in being resentful of demographic realities.”

    Excellent essay, but the above passage was the highlight for me because it addresses awhat has puzzled me most about conversations about race that I have heard here in America. It has long seemed to me that a lot (not all, of course) of the noise over equal representation of POC fails to take into consideration basic math and demographic facts.

    My husband works at a community arts center which provides top level training in the arts to young people, with an emphasis of reaching out to minority and poor youth. He has been cautiously and gently and compassionately engaging in conversations with these young people about race, immigration, etc in America. The teenagers he spoke with were under the misapprehension that the population of America was 40-50% black. The number is more like 14-17%. (It was 12% in the 2010 census.) Granted these were teenagers, and this is just an anecdote…but it would be no wonder that they would be angered at majority whiteness in the culture around them while assuming there were just as many black people living here. A lack of facts and honest conversation that is perpetuated by our failing education system and politically correct culture feeds this negativity that is based on incorrect assumptions.

    • Remi says

      Thanks for your comments Amy. Fascinating stuff re the teenagers. And I’m not surprised they have that impression re the size of the black population, especially if they might happen to live in areas where black folk might constitute that kind of proportion.

  28. Tony says

    Excellent article. The argument presented extremely well in thoughtful intelligent writing. Thank you once again to Quillette and of course to Mr. Adekoya.

  29. Joeblo says

    Why is it racist to believe that some races or ethnic groups are born less intelligent than others? Maybe people who hold this belief reached it through a rational consideration of the evidence available to them. Unless you can prove otherwise, it is presumptuous to label such people as racists. We all observe physical differences between people of different races. It is conceivable that differences extend to the brain.

    • Emblem14 says

      Jesus Christ, it’s racist because you’re generalizing value-ranked traits across an entire population group when, given individual variance along a curve, such a generalization is useless in dealing with random individual people UNLESS you are stereotyping. If you stereotype someone before you have a chance to evaluate them as an individual, that’s called prejudice.

      If you allow negative prejudices, based on racial stereotypes, to be the basis of your attitudes toward the people belonging to that group, just what the hell would you call that!?!

      I guess for you, as long as you’re not burning crosses and knotting rope, it’s a “presumptuous label”.

      • Daniel PV says

        Joeblo didn’t imply negative prejudices. If the prejudices are positive, is that still racist?

        e.g. “Black athletes tend to better at sprinting, genetically speaking”. This is true. Its a generalisation not applicable to individuals, but its still a statement of fact.

        What if the hypothesis was “white people are less intelligent than black people”. Is that okay?

        Who knows what differences exist on a bell curve between different groups of people, whether its race, height, gender, sexuality.

        Its just a hypothesis. It could yield a “positive” prejudice, or a negative one.

        I’m of Eastern European / Russian ethnicity. The thought of someone looking into the innate differences between western Europeans and eastern Europeans in regards to intelligence differences wouldn’t concern me in the slightest. The main reason being, there’s likely very little variation in regards to difference ethnicities and general levels of intelligence (IQ).

        I think mentioning “burning crosses and knotting rope” reduces your comments to somewhat hysterical emotion, and doesn’t take into consideration cold hard scientific reasoning.

        • Daniel PV says

          Edit: The main reason being, there’s likely very little variation in regards to different ethnicities and general levels of intelligence (IQ).

          • I find your assertion interesting. I wonder why these 52 scholars in psychometerics assert the opposite:

            http://www.intelligence.martinsewell.com/Gottfredson1997.pdf

            Are you one of those Intelligent Design trolls too? Do you believe God created the world in 7 days because Genesis says? Or God created humans equally because the Prophet Lewontin revealed this truth?

      • Is it sexist to say that women are shorter than men?

        Obviously NAWASTM, but the mean is lower.

        Further, wouldn’t the assertion that the mean height of women is 6″ lower than men (or whatever it is) be a fact, what is the case?

        Can a fact be racist or sexist?

        Further, if anti-racist or anti-sexist ideology is about suppressing factual information about the world, can it actually be a social good? How does it differ from Lysenkoism?

        • Emblem14 says

          Let me clarify – population level differences along many dimensions, including intelligence, are indeed established fact. The question is, why is this relevant? What are the implicit implications here? Why do some people always insist on bringing it up?

          To assert the existence of uncomfortable factual realities in opposition to anti-scientific ideological narratives? Fair enough – but who are they trying to persuade?

          Beyond that, I fail to see the relevance, or the basis for people’s fixation on it, in terms of our everyday interactions with individuals of various groups. Population level differences are often used by some as an excuse to stereotype individuals and that pisses me off, because it adds fuel to the caricature that people who are fascinated with biological difference are looking for post-hoc justifications for their own prejudices. It makes it politically difficult for people who recognize the importance of biology to stake out morally neutral claims when apologists for racism have disproportionate interest in the subject and won’t shut up with conjecture on how legit science support their pet theories, and their subsequent public policy agendas.

          Don’t tell me i’m exaggerating because I’ve gotten into several spats in these very comments sections with people whose masks slip rather quickly.

          It’s really tiresome to participate in a discourse where a lot of of us are trying to fight against the dangers of runaway identitarianism, only to look around and see we’re keeping close company with RR/HBD agenda-pushers who are happy to jump on whatever anti-leftist bandwagon seems to be in vogue.

          • Emblem 14, I think the reality is that the facts matter and they have implications for social policy.

            It might make people feel good that Thabo Mbeki blamed AIDS on poverty and not the HIV virus, but it cost human lives when he banned antiretroviral medications. No doubt he was sincere in his belief that the anti-HIV scientists were Black, and there views were rejected by the overwhelming and racist majority of white scientists–but there are 300,000 dead bodies in South Africa thanks to this perverse form of “anti-racism”.

            There are a number of political questions that are active today, such as the topics of racism, “structural racism”, education policy, crime, immigration, etc., where hereditarian viewpoints have policy implications. Sticking one’s head in the sand will not make these issues go away, and ignoring science will not produce good public policy outcomes.

            Certainly, everyone has their prejudices, but I think the best way to overcome prejudice is through data and critical debate, not obscurantism, name-calling and “no platforming” scientists and policy experts.

          • I think this is a very hard question, but how do you go about separating “good” anti-racism from “bad” anti-racism. You had the Ferguson Effect in the US, resulting in an increase number of deaths to young Black men in about year that exceeds the number killed in over a century of lynching. Yet to criticize BLM or the lack of scientific evidence for the claims advanced means your a “white supremacist” or some other doggerel. Yet your enemies policies are leading to the deaths of innocent young black men.

            Or the mess with Mbeki, your some racist colonialist who hates African scientists (who don’t believe AIDS is caused by HIV), yet your enemies policies are leading to the deaths of innocent young blacks.

            The reality is that lies get people killed, always, and building an ideological movement based on lies and obscurantism will lead to preventable deaths every time, no matter how righteous it makes you feel. That is the point of the above essay, that these radical Black perspectives are not actually held to be true by anyone, but they are used as a political cudgel to instill fear, and to protect turf. But the problem is that it will ultimately result in harm, a political backlash and a loss of credibility for proponents, and it may be harm to the group it is supposedly intended to protect.

          • Boreas says

            The point of such findings is that they provide an alternative explanation for the various racial disparities in educational achievement, employment, etc. apart from the usual allegations of systemic bigotry, which are as implausible as they are divisive. The implication here is that (contra the Left) a just society is not likely to be equal and that structural unfairness cannot be inferred from the mere fact that such disparities exist. So there’s a lot more at stake here than whether someone can find a post-hoc justification for their prejudices.

      • D.B. Cooper says

        @Emblem14
        I’m not sure why you would take exception to Joeblo’s claim: “Unless you can prove otherwise, it is presumptuous to label such people as racists.”

        I would think, and I hope you would agree, that it is presumptuous to label people (read, stereotype) before you have a chance to evaluate their claims, that’s called prejudice. And as you know, or should know, if you allow negative prejudices, based on the antithesis of current statistical models, to be the basis of your attitudes toward the people belonging to the group that holds to those models, just what the hell would you call that!?!

        If you’re asking me, personally, I would call it anti-science, the denial of science, or maybe just a virulent form of SJW syndrome (pending future DSM recognition). In any case, it seems the irony is thick on the ground, here.

        Leaving aside your demarcation problem, you brought up an important point that’s worth exploring a bit more. You claimed:
        “It’s racist because you’re generalizing value-ranked traits across an entire population group when, given individual variance along a curve, such a generalization is useless in dealing with random individual people UNLESS you are stereotyping.

        It’s not clear to me that Joeblo’s question (his first sentence) is racist, given the context from which his claim is derived – statistical inference of (cognitive) group differences gleaned from population data. Further, the fact that you think it is racist, may suggest that you either (A) don’t believe that you yourself generalize value-ranked traits across entire population groups; (B) don’t believe there’s predictive power in doing so; or, (C) don’t believe there’s sufficient utility in making such generalizations.

        Your opposition to (B) is flagrant and conspicuous (such a generalization is useless), so we’ll attack that horn first – low hanging fruit being what it is. You claim that generalizing traits across entire populations is useless when dealing with random individuals, given the existence of individual variances along a cure, i.e., a normal distribution. While it’s true to say there’s more genetic variation within groups than between groups, it simply does not follow that from this, one is therefore unable to describe the probability of an unobserved quantity (an individual trait) despite one having prior knowledge of said trait’s distribution across concomitant populations.

        Good Bayesians are hard to come by, apparently, but still, reasonable people should be able to acknowledge that stereotypes exist for a reason – their often true, if and when one considers congruent frequency distributions btw distinct populations. In short, you’ve choked down Lewontin’s statistical fallacy and, now, you’re trying to convince (with prejudice) Joeblo and the rest of Quillette’s commentariat that the cool-aid is fine. It’s not.

        Making value judgements on whether or not we should generalize (stereotype) about an individual’s specific traits on the basis of their (one of their) groups distribution models is fine, but that is an entirely different question than whether or not we can or have the ability to make generalizations (with sufficient predictive power) about the individual themselves. To conflate the two, runs head long into the is/ought distinction. Just out of curiosity, what exactly constitutes a “value-ranked trait”? How are traits assigned value – SES, health, longevity, reproductive success, other life outcomes, etc.? – and who gets to assign these values – you, me, the majority, minorities, etc.?

        With respect to (A)… YES, YOU DO. I do too. Businesses do. Society does. Everyone does.

        And, lastly, generalizations/stereotypes ((C)) have an extremely high utility. As I’ve previously remarked, if your antecedents didn’t or were unable to recognize social patterns, you wouldn’t be here today. Rational discrimination is a requisite for Darwinian fitness. Rational discrimination is not unlike an intuitive inborn version of Bayesian statistical conclusions.

        When I hire someone to baby sit my 3-year-old daughter, I discriminate against males, i.e., I only hire females. My reasons are obvious – I know statistically, females are less likely to harm (sexually or otherwise) my daughter. It’s rational to do so, no?
        When car insurance companies place higher premiums rates on male teenage drivers than they do female teenage drivers, they do so rationally. But maybe, that’s just blind actuarial fairness at work. Okay, sounds reasonable. But, I wonder what would happen if a bank instituted an official policy proscribing different interest rates for various “well-defined” group populations based on prior knowledge of conditions that describe the probability that the different groups will/can satisfy the loan in full. Would the bank’s propositional logic warrant the same, or similar, social concessions we indifferently cede to gender dependent car insurance premiums?
        When was the last time anyone at Quillette seriously considered buying (or even viewed) a family home with a street address “### Martin Luther King Drive?” You can even pick the city. I would love to know.
        When was the last time an Uber driver had a choice between picking up a rider in the ghetto (or trailer park) or one at a beach front property, and chose the ghetto/trailer park rider? Ask yourself the rhetorical question, if your daughter/mother was that Uber driver, which rider would you advise she pickup, and why?

        The examples are endless, so let’s stop being a boy-scout, climb down from our pseudo moral high ground, and relieve ourselves of the hypocrisy we so shamelessly pretend to be ignorant of. Rational discrimination is useful. It’s more than useful – it’s one of the reasons we’re even here.

        • Emblem14 says

          @D.B. Cooper

          I’ll give you points for pointing out the irony in how I reacted to Joeblo, and the assumptions I made about him, based on what he posted. I did heavily imply that someone who says what he says usually also hold more vulgar racist attitudes. Touche. For the record, I never accused him of being a racist either as an boast of telepathic power or a tactic to shut down debate. I think that smear-flinging with the intent to intimidate or shame is the lowest form of argument.

          As for your response, there’s less to argue with than I thought – it’s mostly a matter of value judgments.

          “(A) don’t believe that you yourself generalize value-ranked traits across entire population groups; (B) don’t believe there’s predictive power in doing so; or, (C) don’t believe there’s sufficient utility in making such generalizations.”

          A. Of course I do, often unconsciously, like everyone else. Then I make adjustments with my executive faculties when I’m dealing with specifics.

          B. This is context dependent, the effect size of predictive power fluctuates wildly, and the devil is in the details.

          C. The utility of prejudice trades off other important values, and personal utility isn’t the only salient utility here. There’s also the collective utility of social norms, and how some norms lead to better societies than others. Private actions, in the aggregate, have public effects. Universalized maxims, of the “what if everyone did X” are relevant here.

          I think you’re saying that since (A) everyone pattern-matches, and (C) this serves a critical Darwinian purpose, it’s naive and sanctimonious to complain about the collateral damage – i.e. the risk of treating other individuals unfairly.

          If someone doesn’t like being dealt with as an avatar of their group’s stereotype, rather than as a multifaceted individual, tough titty, we’re all trying to protect our genes out here. If anything, they should complain to the members of their group that saddle them with the burden of stereotype-confirming behavior.

          You have a point, but it’s not as strong as you want it to be. Yes, stereotyping is understandable, unavoidable and even useful in certain contexts. Your examples are valid. But why stop there? Can the survival imperative justify anything? What rate of false-positives is too high? How do we know when our prejudices are a function of ignorance or stupidity? How do we know when a stereotype contains real information, rather than just figments of bigotry or over-amplified anecdote? How much power should stereotypes have in a “proper” model of social cognition? How much weight should we give them when they’re in conflict with other moral goods like the Golden Rule?

          Should I not hire a black male because he’s statistically more likely to steal from me based on his race and sex? What other factors of analysis should I consider, or should the risk-mitigation value of prejudice overrule them?

          Should I shoot a young black male on sight out of some hyper-vigilant application of the 1% doctrine, knowing that statistically speaking, he poses the highest risk of committing a violent crime against me? How much risk mitigation am I entitled to at others’ expense?

          You see where I’m going with this.

          You’re taking a virtue (prejudice as a mechanism of self-preservation) and positioning it as an unequivocal good. You made no concession that it ought to be tempered, no acknowledgement that it can be misapplied, abused or misappropriated to serve selfish, immoral, socially destructive ends.

          I’m making the counterpoint – that the entire history of man’s inhumanity to man, including the hangover from ideologically driven, state-institutionalized racism that is the inescapable backdrop of this debate, is in large part a result of humans unquestioningly indulging their Darwinian Instincts and calling it natural and right. We have a lot of evolutionary baggage, but we’re the only animals on earth who can introspectively critique our base impulses and consciously choose an unnatural feeling alternative (eg. liberal democracy, rule of law, individualism etc.) that we nevertheless realize, through application of reason and intellectual analysis, is a superior model for facilitating our long-term interests. The default state of paranoid tribalism and warfare (its past evolutionary success notwithstanding), is a dead end for the species.

          We shouldn’t be wasting intellectual capital making excuses for morally indefensible behavior just because we can follow a causal thread to biological factors. It’s shortsighted to indiscriminately celebrate anything that undermines the narrative of totalitarian leftism simply because they see biology generally as an impediment to their utopia.

          • D.B. Cooper says

            Well, since we’re handing out points, allow me to reciprocate. You’re right, I didn’t consider the collective utility of social norms in my calculus. I should have. That was an error on my part. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I’m happy to admit, you’ve fleshed out some very good points in your critique of my claims. You also raise a number of cogent questions that would require answering in a more exhaustive forum than what this comment section allows. I’ll try to answer a few at the bottom, but if I don’t address what you want, let me know and I’ll be happy to circle back around.

            One of the main reasons I come to Quillette is that I enjoy reading, and infrequently contributing to, the level of discourse in the comment sections. Judging from the last few months (as a regular visitor of the site) I would guess Quillette commenters are overrepresented on the right side of the curve (for some, I would go so far as “right tail”) relative to other sites, but certainly the public writ large. When I do take a misstep (see above error) and my reasoning gets a bit too slippery, or I completely shit the bed, most – or at least some – of the regular contributors have enough sense to correctly identify the soft spots in my arguments; which I actually appreciate b/c it sharpens my thinking by exposing where I’m wrong.

            I take your point concerning (B), the effect size of predictive power does, can, and/or is apt to, fluctuate wildly, and, yes, the devil is everywhere; but, that doesn’t invalidate propositional logic wholesale, nor does it relieve us (reasonable people, I’m including myself) of the opportunity to utilize regression models or even our own intuitive abilities for social pattern recognition, when its applicable of course.

            In my estimation, it’s simply bad faith incitement to require a correlation of one as the “socially acceptable,” nay “socially sanctioned” standard for drawing conclusions from incomplete information. If we had or could have “complete” information about value-ranked traits across entire population groups, whatever that means, then of course we (society) could expect/demand – via social norms – the existence of known causal relationships prior Louis Farrakhan, or his redneck analog, promulgating group trait differences. The facts would simply speak for themselves. You know, facts, what we (polite society) used to appeal to before they became racist/sexist/homophobic. But I wouldn’t suggest anyone holding their breath waiting on those facts. As we sit, the best we have is generalizations, is stereotypes – given their inference has sufficient predictive power.

            In summation, I would argue, if that’s the bar we’re setting, then there can be no justification for generalizations, stereotypes, or rational discriminations of any type and in any form or fashion. They are all tantamount to Richard Spencer’s next breath, David Dukes next gas soaked cross, and/or Louis Farrakhan’s next white devil sermon.

            This standard is an inconsequential relapse to our current station where any majority-to-minority inference is prima facia racism/sexism/etc. And if every generalization is racist, then no generalization is… well you know. We’ve just ran the circle. We’ve jumped the shark Emblem.

            I can’t tell you with any degree of certainty that buying a home on MLK drive or in a trailer park ISN’T a good idea but having grown up in a trailer and having driven down enough MLK’s, my plan right now is to defer on both of those options for the foreseeable future, and I bet you are too. I would be interested, however, to know what your prior observational data was that helped you draw the same conclusion as me, assuming you did…

            I want to come back to a point you made in your response to (C), specifically, “how some norms lead to better societies than others.” This relates to something I’ve been kicking around the last few months. Namely, the tension that exists and is inherent to some limited set of cultural norms which are, on their face, discriminatory at an individual level (for certain groups), yet, at a societal level their utility is, in some cases, not simply high but vital for promoting social cohesion/capital and even the sustainment of the social collective itself. The type of norms I’m thinking of would be things like taxes, male conscription, limitations/curtailments of voting rights, etc. The specific examples aren’t as important (to me) as are the contradictions themselves and the associative justifications (and their legitimacy) we employ to balance this tension.

            YOUR QUESTIONS:
            (1) Can the survival imperative justify anything?

            Interesting question, although it lacks a degree of specificity that, to me, makes your aim here somewhat ambiguous. By “survival imperative” do you mean the minimum level of needs required to propagate my existence (not die)? By “justify” do you mean justify legally or morally? There can be some distance between the two. In any event, I will answer as best I can:

            YES, it can; although I’m not confident my answer would hold under all conditions in a legal manner. I can’t help but feel this question isn’t fundamentally a question of rights – I happen to be more of a “negative rights” proponent, if you couldn’t already tell. BUT, if I’m pushed, I would say, ultimately, and I mean at the most fundamental level, I believe the only right that people have, or can have, is the right to sustain one’s life; full stop.

            (2) How do we know when our prejudices are a function of ignorance or stupidity? How do we know when a stereotype contains real information, rather than just figments of bigotry or over-amplified anecdote? How much power should stereotypes have in a “proper” model of social cognition? How much weight should we give them when they’re in conflict with other moral goods like the Golden Rule?

            These are all close enough to one another, where I’m going to consider them iterations of the same question. If the conclusions are valid, why would it matter if they were derived from faulty reasoning. The conclusions are either wrong or they’re right. If they’re right, then the conclusions will manifest decisions that have a positive utility or a utility greater than what could be realized had the conclusions been wrong. If the conclusions are wrong, the inverse would apply. Can you not do the right thing for the wrong reason? Let’s not lose the forest for the trees, here. Semantics is a futile game. Remember, a broken clock is right twice a day.
            You’ll know when stereotypes contain “real” information for the reasons I just explained.
            I don’t know what a “proper” model of social cognition is, exactly, but you know very well you don’t give stereotypes power. Stereotypes derive their power from their correspondence with truth/reality; so, unless you’re dictating the constraints of reality, the question is nonsensical. Lastly, you should (by which I mean I would) give stereotypes enough weight to ensure human flourishing. Whose flourishing? That’s the interesting question, huh? Well, as soon as you convince me that the life of your child or the life of your mother has the exact same value to YOU as would any other random kid or mother from say Cambodia, then I’ll be happy to answer that moral dilemma you posed to me. But I think, if you answer this question, and you do it honestly, you will have already answered your own question.

            (3) Should I not hire a black male because he’s statistically more likely to steal from me based on his race and sex? What other factors of analysis should I consider, or should the risk-mitigation value of prejudice overrule them?

            I don’t know. Should you not hire a convicted child rapist to babysit your child even those he’s already paid his debt to society? Before answering, I would counsel you to check the recidivism rates of child molesters, b/c it’s probably not going to be on his CV.
            What is the confidence interval for your child rapist babysitter? I’m betting it’s on the wrong side of your threshold tolerance? Don’t be prejudice, now…

            (4) Should I shoot a young black male on sight out of some hyper-vigilant application of the 1% doctrine, knowing that statistically speaking, he poses the highest risk of committing a violent crime against me? How much risk mitigation am I entitled to at others’ expense?

            I love it when we turn it up to 11. I really believe you gotta get to the margins of an idea to find out what you really believe and what your positions really are. The answer to your question is, NO. That’s called murder. You’ve just set up a false dilemma and you damn well know it. Let’s stop pretending that b/c stereotypes hold predictive power that things like “intent,” the “non-aggression principle,” and the Sun rising in the East are no longer applicable. There is no slippery slope, here. You didn’t even make a good attempt to create a fake one.

            And one more thing, if it weren’t almost impossible to get me triggered, I might take offense at the idea that my pointing out the validity in the predictive power of stereotypes is somehow a closet advocacy for murdering black people. Emblem, get a grip. You’re being pedantic. You’re the Jew, here, I’m the white-trash one. You’re supposed to be the reasonable actor in this exchange. You’re smarter than to conflate my positions to a strawman. Tighten up.

            I enjoyed it!

      • Bill says

        So then, calling white Trump supporters racist makes you a racist by the same extension, correct? All them racist Democrats!

    • John McCormick says

      Actually, what you describe is part of the dictionary definition (the most commonly understood meaning of the word) of racism. As far as intelligence, there is only one scientific, evolutionary measure of such, and the first question on the exam is “Can you stay alive?”

    • A Contrarian says

      “Why is it racist to believe that some races or ethnic groups are born less intelligent than others? Maybe people who hold this belief reached it through a rational consideration of the evidence available to them.”

      That’s me.

      The evidence available to me which appears to reveal group differences in IQ also reveals much wider differences within groups, and that no group is devoid of members at either end of the curve.

      Might I point out that my post which appears to have kicked off this exchange was in two parts: what I think is, and what I think should be. The second part, which seems to have been mostly ignored, is that what is – innate bias or prejudice; group differences in IQ – should not preclude civil, courteous behaviour and taking individuals on their own merits. Because of my upbringing, my culture’s value system, and my life experience, that’s what I think should be, and therefore is how I consciously try to behave. Thanks, Mr. Hume.

      I fail to see why this position is unreasonable or should be contentious.

  30. Something else to consider: the endless and generally merit-less charges of “racism!” in response to the slightest provocation or inconvenience has greatly diminished the word and made it largely meaningless. More and more white people respond to charges of racism with an indifferent shrug. This has also reopened doors to lines of questioning that we have long suppressed. Ironically the ever broader definition of racism is quickly becoming counter-productive. I think the Ta-Nehisi Coates types of the world have wildly overplayed their hand and misread the climate.

  31. Kris says

    Note to Author – please reread that AEI study again. The very first graphic shows how completely ludicrous it is. How is it possible for every single “race” in the study to have increased their proportion in the middle class and upper third of the income distribution? That is statistically impossible – some group must have reduced its representation in those income strata for other groups to have increased theirs. Unless they’re simply saying that Americans as a whole have gotten wealthier and less unequal over the last fifty years – which is patently untrue. It’s like the Prairie Home Companion joke about all kids being “above average”.

    • D.B. Cooper says

      Hold on… so 50% of the US population aren’t below average? That’s comforting to know.

      Lies, damn lies, and statistics…

  32. Throughyoureyes says

    Author,

    I find many of your points to be fascinating, and indeed it does allow me to better understand the perspective of how some black people approach the issue of race and equality of outcome in Great Britain. I do find a few contradictory points in your essay that I would like to comment on.

    You quote a report at the American Enterprise Institute that says, “more than one-in-two black males–57 percent–now belong to the country’s middle or upper class. That is up from 38 percent in 1960. Meanwhile, the share of black men in poverty has fallen from 41 percent in 1960 to 18 percent today. In comparison, 55 percent of Hispanic-Americans belong to the middle or upper class while the figures stand at 73 percent for Asian-Americans and 75 percent for white Americans.”

    Then you continue to go on and say, ” There is still clearly work to be done, but this cannot be described as anything other than huge socio-economic progress for black American males, a group often unfairly associated primarily with crime and unemployment.”

    The key here is that you state that, ” there is clearly more work to be done”.

    The issue I have with this is later on in your article you say, “Perhaps I’m too simple-minded, but the way I see it, in this globalized age, if I want to live in a place where people closer to my skin colour have power, I can always move to any of the 60 plus black-majority nations in the world. In these societies, it will be black people deciding my life chances, not white people. But as long as I choose to live in Britain I see little benefit in being resentful of demographic realities. ”

    The idea that you should just move or quit if you don’t like something is weak. Would you not fight for the issues you believe in at home? You state that there is more work to be done. Is that work not to improve the equality of outcome that is based upon merit as opposed to race or gender as that should be a non issue.

    There is honor in fighting for equality of outcome and to create a level playing field, regardless of where you live. It is the methods of fighting that can be controversial and divisive.

    Yes the left Black Identitarians who use hyperbole to unsuccessfully advance the power positions of Blacks can be divisive. However there is an underlying truth in what they say. Having anger and resentment from being in a less ideal position due to lack of perfect parity is a bitch. Perfect parity does not exist anywhere in the world and racism exists everywhere. This is coming from a Vietnamese American, born and raised in California, and who has been living in Vietnam for his late 20’s early 30’s. There is no equality anywhere, but we make the most of our situations and hopefully champion the causes of humanity as opposed to our individual tribes.

    Overall great article and a truly interesting read.

    • Remi says

      Hi Throughyoureyes…..thanks for your comments, including the critical one. I will work on sharpening my arguments for next time. Take care!

  33. Remi, you haven’t actually touched the worst-case scenario arising from identitarian politics – what I see happening in the U.S. right now. You can only tell white people they’re the predestined villains in the racial drama for so long before what was guilt over the sins of their ancestors flips over into resentment.

    In the U.S. I see an increasing trend of whites – especially working-class whites – deciding that if politics is going to be framed in terms of tribal resentment, they might as well play that game too. They’re turning towards ethnonationalism and nativism because they increasingly see “diversity” as a form of class warfare – an elite project that has not only the accidental but *intended* effect of keeping them down.

    This trend frankly terrifies me. Not because there’s no justice in their anger but exactly because they have a point (and I say that as a birth member of the elite they are coming to despise). The U.S. could live with the toxic effects of minority identity politics as long as the white majority considered their ills a tithe worth paying for social peace. But since that consent has become tied to class tensions among whites it is fraying and may soon break down entirely; and if it does, the elites aren’t going to be able to keep a stopper .in the bottle for long. I fear the explosion that may follow.

    I think civic nationalism can still be saved. But for that to happen, *everyone* has to draw back from the racialist brink. including minorities. Telling whites they are “privileged” and must therefore accept being demonized won’t cut it any more.

    • gary.jeffery@hotmail.com says

      Spot on Eric. Remi your friend seems to think he can play the race card to keep the white majority in check, seemingly at zero cost. Well, your friend is a fool if he believes this has no cost. The rise of Trump & Brexit are the cost – the result is simple “shut the borders”. Tell your mate, well done why he was so “offended” you let mad men and women loose.

      Also, Why does your friend even want to live in a country where he believes he needs to keep the majority in check otherwise he will be overrun? He is either paranoid or if he truly believe this surely you would leave rather than bring up a family and form roots in such a crazy place.

    • This is very well put, and it’s something that is not being addressed at all.

      The Root tweeted a few days ago: “As riots erupt in Haiti, never forget that the country’s extreme poverty and problems were caused by white people.”

      These kinds of tweets and headlines (from blue check mark journos and other pundits) are commonplace. I haven’t kept score, but I wouldn’t be surprised if these were a daily occurrence at this point. I made the argument upthread that there’s a limit to how much anti-white rhetoric people will let pass before claims of racism or minority concerns no longer matter to them. Hate may not be the end result; it could just lead to resentment and apathy. Which, to me, if widespread, could be much more pernicious than any effect small groups of hateful extremists could have on the country.

  34. Daniel PV says

    DB Cooper and emblem14 – good exchanges. I really enjoyed reading them.

  35. mac says

    Eric Raymond is right. Most whites I know now see accusations of racism as pure gamesmanship designed to give non-whites an undeserved advantage. There is a great deal of white resentment over this already and it is growing exponentially. I don’t know if the sinister side of the political spectrum initially had a goal of making whites more ethnocentric/tribally inclined, but they’re well on the way to accomplishing it if they did.

    It is now explicitly clear that the only people who are socially obligated to be “colorblind” in the U.S. are whites, and a majority of whites are now very well aware that the system of affirmative action currently in place is solidly–and unfairly–rigged against their interests. How much longer that system will be supported by whites in the U.S. is a good question, but that there will be an end to it is undoubted and I suspect that end is going to come much sooner than many believe. When that happens, things in the U.S. metro areas are going to get interesting indeed.

  36. Pingback: Thursday Open Comments | Hambone

  37. Shenme Shihou says

    “If enough blacks started criticizing the victimhood narratives of black leftists who thrive on political correctness we’d be helping delegitimize [political correctness] itself. If PC is delegitimized in mainstream white society, what’s to stop things from going back to how they were in the 70s?”

    This guy believes that he should publicly uphold a narrative that he admits in private is bullshit.

    Want to know the quickest way to make race relations today the way they were in 1970? Demonize white people with an admittedly bullshit narrative. This will make them drop their devotion to inclusivity and they will start acting for the sole interest of their racial group.

    Identity politics are all fun and games until white people start playing them.

    • This is finally getting talked about here, but only in comments. This is already happening. I’ve tried to make the case elsewhere in this thread that overt racism or violence doesn’t have to occur for this to backfire on the left and have a detrimental effect on society. Look at the MGTOW movement as an analogy for what might result from the continued demonization of majority populations by leftist identitarians. Fear and resentment might foster collective wariness and apathy which, in turn, could lead to the social ostracization of out groups. Basically, a self-fulfilling prophesy. None of which would be good for our societies.

  38. …the abrogation of ones responsibility for the progress of ones life to others, to sentiment or to opinion is to deride and undermine everything valuable that one is…we step up on the shoulders of our forebears moving forward never backwards through those efforts upon which we can confidently rely – our own…

  39. ralphwaldoporcupine says

    The problem with trying to stop the current ridiculous extreme to which anti-racism has been taken– amounting to a religion, according to some– is that it’s politically useful. Only when people stop supporting politicians and parties based explicitly on repugnance with this extremism will the self-interested political and moral winds stop blowing in that direction.

  40. Morgan says

    Awesome work Remi! Articles such as this one are the reason I love this website.

  41. CaroleAnne says

    This is a brilliant piece. One quibble is that you don’t address the pernicious effect of this constant race baiting on white people. I think in the long run, the resentment it causes just continues and exacerbates the divide.

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