Monday, April 9, 2012

It's Easy to Call John Derbyshire a Racist

John Derbyshire, a former writer for the conservative magazine The National Review was fired after he published a piece in Taki's Magazine entitled: The Talk: NonBlack Version.  Derbyshire was inspired to write this article because of the conversations that Black parents are having with their sons in the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin. I am going to share with a small portion of Derbyshire's advice to his children:
(10a) Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.
(10b) Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods.
(10c) If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that date (neglect of that one got me the closest I have ever gotten to death by gunshot).
(10d) Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks.
(10e) If you are at some public event at which the number of blacks suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.
(10f) Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians.
(10g) Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white.
(10h) Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.
(10i) If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving.
(11) The mean intelligence of blacks is much lower than for whites. The least intelligent ten percent of whites have IQs below 81; forty percent of blacks have IQs that low. Only one black in six is more intelligent than the average white; five whites out of six are more intelligent than the average black. These differences show in every test of general cognitive ability that anyone, of any race or nationality, has yet been able to devise. They are reflected in countless everyday situations. “Life is an IQ test.”
(12) There is a magnifying effect here, too, caused by affirmative action. In a pure meritocracy there would be very low proportions of blacks in cognitively demanding jobs. Because of affirmative action, the proportions are higher. In government work, they are very high. Thus, in those encounters with strangers that involve cognitive engagement, ceteris paribus the black stranger will be less intelligent than the white. In such encounters, therefore—for example, at a government office—you will, on average, be dealt with more competently by a white than by a black. If that hostility-based magnifying effect (paragraph 8) is also in play, you will be dealt with more politely, too. “The DMV lady“ is a statistical truth, not a myth.
(13) In that pool of forty million, there are nonetheless many intelligent and well-socialized blacks. (I’ll use IWSB as an ad hoc abbreviation.) You should consciously seek opportunities to make friends with IWSBs. In addition to the ordinary pleasures of friendship, you will gain an amulet against potentially career-destroying accusations of prejudice.
At first The National Review simply tried to separate itself from Derbyshire's article, but decided to fire him after public outrage was evident. There have been several articles in major news outlets like The Guardian and Huffpo, as well as commentary at CNN, declaring Derbyshire's piece to be racist. Anger at this piece is the quintessential White liberal response, and comes with the added bonus of being able to separate oneself from Derbyshire and declare that since you would never dare to express these kinds of idea publicly that you are not a racist.

It is absolutely impossible to read even a small section of The Talk: NonBlack Version, without declaring it racist. Socially there is very rarely difficulty calling out the extreme overt examples of racism, in large part because racism has come to mean to many: A noose, a burning cross, brilliant White sheets and in some cases the N word [note: I say some cases, as there are plenty of White people who actively believe that they are oppressed, because of an inability to use that word without facing some form of social censure].  What gets ignored is the systemic ways in which racism works and the everyday acts of covert racism that negatively impact the lives of people of colour.

Challenging racism as an institution is beyond the understanding and desire of many, because it would mean the eradication of White privilege. They would rather live in a world in which they can co-opt pre 1963 Dr. King, and wax poetically about a colour blind society, while our children are being undereducated in broken down schools, and shot for daring to wear a hoodie at night. This is the world as it really is, and why I simply cannot take comfort in any kind of discipline that Derbyshire is facing.

Reading his article, what I felt was not outrage, because this is exactly the kind of thought pattern and behaviour that Whiteness has normalized.  People are simply upset that Derbyshire had the nerve to air his dirty laundry in public, rather than internalizing his racist ideas.  The world is still very much segregated, with Sunday being the most segregated day in North America.  If you doubt that, walk into a Black church and then a White church.  Blacks and Whites who supposedly worship the same God don't even pray together, and yet we are told that racism is a thing of the past and that we are all equal now, with exception of course, of a few isolated incidents.  White on Black violence, even when it is continually perpetrated by the police, is always constructed as isolated, [Oscar Grant and Sean Bell] because White people are individuals, but the moment a Black person behaves in a manner which we have deemed socially unacceptable, ze is suddenly a representative of their race.

To bring up the systemic ways in which racism effects the lives of people of colour is deemed racist because interjects the much taboo subject of race into a conversation.  We cannot even talk about racism, except to view it as a thing of the past, and yet we have White liberal after White liberal decrying the language Derbyshire used, while not holding themselves accountable for the multitude of ways in which they uphold and maintain White supremacy.  Today, racism is seen as a card that Blacks employ to achieve an unfair advantage over decent God fearing White folks. The conversation has been so twisted that we now have White people claiming that they are victims of racism, when people of colour react with righteous rage to the ongoing assault against their persons.

It's easy to call Derbyshire a racist, and that is why it is happening.  If it meant a true assault on White supremacy, what you would be hearing right now is crickets and not outrage.  Nothing this man wrote in his column is in the least bit surprising.  I found that I could not even drum up outrage, because I am so accustomed to living with this sort of racism day after day.  Whether it is the White person who seeks to turn me into their very own Black BFF [yes we're collectors items], or commentary on how "articulate" I am -- racism is a part of my lived experience -- and has been since I was a very young girl. No amount of liberal hand wringing is going to change that and so I will just nod at the commentary and accept that there will be no substantive change in my lifetime. Today it's not the Derbyshire's of the world that we have to fear, but those who declare themselves to be decidedly not racist, even as they do everything in their power to ensure that yet another generation of Black children grows up with the stigma of being "othered" in a White supremacist world.