To my African Brothers and Sisters

So how did a Vodou Priest become a White Racist?  There are a few versions of that story.  I would have clarified things earlier had I thought it would help.  But there’s no point negotiating with people who see compromise as weakness and apologies as proof of guilt. Instead I spoke the truth as I saw it and trusted the judgment of my audience.  

I can vouch for the “Vodou Priest” part.  I am Houngan Coquille du Mer, initiated Houngan si pwen in March 2003 by Mambo Azan Taye (Edeline St. Amand) and Houngan Si Gan Temps (Hugue Pierre) at Societe La Belle Venus #2, Brooklyn, New York.   And since I am White at least 75% of the rumor can be verified.  Whatever else I may say about my critics, they are doing better than most journalists nowadays.   

Now, about that 25%.

Do you believe “all White people are racist?”  If so, then I have to plead guilty.  I’ve been White since the day I was born.  The same goes for my wife and our daughter.  If Whiteness is the original sin we have sinned before you.  Nothing we can do, nothing we can say will ever make us anything but White.

I have met a few Black people who think we are irredeemable.  Yet on a personal level and living as a White minority in a largely Black and Hispanic community, I very rarely if ever encounter anti-White hatred. If their reactions over five years have been any indication, our neighbors don’t see us as colonists, invaders or usurpers. To them we’re the entourage for an adorable little redhead.  In fact, that was one of the things that first caused me to raise an eyebrow regarding the anti-racism hysteria.

On an interpersonal level America is remarkably well-integrated.  Hell, take a look at our toothless racist rednecks with their Bibles and guns and country music.  They may wear MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN hats and support their local police, but those White country fans also love Darius Rucker.  Rucker isn’t just a Black man, he’s a Black man with a White wife and multiracial children.   Yet those Trump-loving bigots listen to his music, watch his videos, and attend his concerts by the thousands. If they storm the stage they are looking for his autograph, not his head.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that racism doesn’t exist.  I believe there are real injustices and inequalities which must be addressed:  I believe that there are organized systems of power which treat Black Americans as hostiles.   But I see considerable good will on both sides.  And I also see that this good will is under attack by people who want us at each other’s throats.  Much of what today passes for “anti-racism” seems designed not to fight racism but to promote it.

To the Woke White Left you are “People of Color.”  This gives you points on the Axes of Oppression Chart and makes you cool and interesting.  But it also reaffirms the binary of “White people” and “non-White people.”  The focus is still on Whiteness in its presence or absence.  You are interesting to them only insofar as they can use you as a weapon against Bad White People. They’ll march every time a White police officer shoots a Black man.  But when Mexican gangs firebomb your homes or wealthy White people gentrify your neighborhoods they remain silent. Your suffering matters only insofar as it is photogenic and uncomplicated.

“Cultural Appropriation” is one of the Woke White Left’s favorite targets.  But “Cultural appropriation” isn’t a problem, it’s a symptom. People who are rooted in their history and their ancestors don’t need to steal other cultures. The fact that White people need to become Peruvian medicine men, Aztec healers, African-American root workers, Japanese anime characters, etc. shows we have lost touch with their own roots. Only a person with a healthy respect for his own culture can have a healthy respect for someone else’s. When White people are told their culture is inherently evil, toxic and colonial you can hardly blame them for wanting to replace it with something better.

In 1989 Wellesley professor Karen McIntosh published a paper entitled “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” Today “owning One’s Privilege” is the secular White liberal version of “thoughts and prayers.” You talk about all the ways you are privileged, say nice things about the oppressed, and bask in the warm glow of self-righteousness. The French used to call it noblesse oblige.  The White liberals “owning their privilege” aren’t doing so because they want to get rid of it — they are desperately reminding themselves they still have it. (It’s telling that “White privilege” was created by a professor at Wellesley, which is about as White and Privileged a place as one can imagine).

Over the past few years I’ve met a lot of White racists.  I don’t mean White people who refuse to own their privilege or who make uncomfortable observations about inconvenient statistical data.  I mean White folks who genuinely dislike Black people as a group and are not ashamed of sharing their prejudices.  Yet I’ve encountered very few who wouldn’t acknowledge that there are good, decent, respectable Black people as well as … well, the other sort of Black people.  In fact, most of the White Nationalists I’ve known really did have a few good Black friends. Most of the White liberals I’ve met can’t look at a Black person without seeing a victim.

The White Left talks (and talks, and talks, and TALKS) about racism. But where are the conversations about economic inequality, about our declining standard of living, about the ways legal and illegal immigration is being used to exploit citizens and aliens alike to enrich wealthy businessmen? They’re happy to give you the same lip service they give to undocumented immigrants, cross-dressers, promiscuous women and the disabled. But when you need concrete solutions they are right there with slogans.

And what has been accomplished by all this navel-gazing and ritual self-flagellation? Zach Goldberg notes at Tablet:

Remarkably, white liberals were the only subgroup exhibiting a pro-outgroup bias—meaning white liberals were more favorable toward nonwhites and are the only group to show this preference for group other than their own. Indeed, on average, white liberals rated ethnic and racial minority groups 13 points (or half a standard deviation) warmer than whites. As is depicted in the graph below, this disparity in feelings of warmth toward ingroup vs. outgroup is even more pronounced among whites who consider themselves “very liberal” where it widens to just under 20 points. Notably, while white liberals have consistently evinced weaker pro-ingroup biases than conservatives across time, the emergence and growth of a pro-outgroup bias is actually a very recent, and unprecedented, phenomenon.

mean in group bias score among whites

I believe that anti-ingroup bias is unhealthy, unnatural and unsustainable. I believe the social rituals of “White Privilege” and “Confronting Whiteness” have a great deal to do with this bias, and that it will inevitably spark an ugly backlash as that self-loathing is turned outwards. When the American experiment finally fails — and I expect that to happen with the next hard economic downturn, if not sooner — I expect bloodshed.  The conflicts will break along America’s oldest fault lines and the worst White atrocities will come not from the “Nazis” you see pilloried in the news but from disillusioned ex-radical Leftists.

Yes, I expect war.  I wouldn’t put my reputation, my career and my life on the line if I did not.  America loses the petrodollar; our trade war with China becomes a hot war; some chain of events torpedoes the stock or commodities markets — we are closer than most people think to becoming Yugoslavia the Second.  And as our infrastructure crumbles and the ranks of our poor swell and grow increasingly restless, the White Left wastes its time on problematic microaggressions.

My quarrel is with nihilistic hedonism.  My quarrel is with an ideology that privileges feelings over facts. My quarrel is with a system that seeks to reduce us all to contented consumers.  My quarrel is with people who would stir up hate in the name of fighting it, people who see your suffering as a stepping stone to power.  

My quarrel is not with Black America.

Do I believe there can be peace between us?  I’m not sure we have any choice.  In the best case scenario our collapse happens like the Soviet Union’s fall, with minimal bloodshed.  In the worst case we have decades of low-level fighting like Syria, Lebanon and Iraq — or a few very bloody years ala Yugoslavia.   In any event I would expect to see a certain amount of Balkanization amidst the new nations making up the Disunited States.   But I also expect that White and Black people will be living alongside and amongst each other for the foreseeable future.   There are enough old enmities between us. I would not have us add new ones.

We cannot come to the table as conquerors seeking revenge, as penitents seeking redemption, or as messiahs seeking lepers. We must sit down as equals and speak frankly as adults in a spirit of enlightened self-interest.  We have done it before. We can do it again.  We must do it again.  I do not know if that will be enough and I cannot guarantee you honest cooperation will work.  But I also know that it’s the only thing that ever has.

A century ago something magical happened in Harlem.  The Harlem Renaissance is far and away post-Revolutionary America’s most influential intellectual movement.  (I would place Pragmatism and Transcendentalism a distant second).  Harlem became a nexus of Black consciousness, Black power and Black pride.  Today Harlem is another multicultural shopping mall in the great shopping mall which is Manhattan. Where once Black businesses catered to Black customers multinational corporations sell imported merchandise at inflated prices to anybody who can afford them. 

I would see Harlem preserved as the Black Mecca it should be.  I would see the streets of Harlem filled with prosperous Black faces preserving the Black past and creating the Black future.  I would see your historically Black colleges and universities — institutions which have been pushed to the sidelines in the Great Quest for One Color-Blind America — teach new generations of Black students.  I would not tear down monuments to the Confederacy: instead I would see in every Black community a statue that honored their history and their experience.  I would give you a place alongside us as two Folk united by geography and divided by history.  All they have to offer you are empty pedestals and fashionable begging bowls. 

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