“Unspeakable truths” about race in America


An interesting article examines the state of race relations in America from the perspective of a self-described “elite” African-American writer, and points out some uncomfortable truths.  Here’s an excerpt.

Activists on the Left of American politics claim that “white supremacy,” “implicit bias,” and old-fashioned “anti-black racism” are sufficient to account for black disadvantage. But this is a bluff that relies on “cancel culture” to be sustained. Those making such arguments are, in effect, daring you to disagree with them. They are threatening to “cancel” you if you do not accept their account: You must be a “racist”; you must believe something is intrinsically wrong with black people if you do not attribute pathological behavior among them to systemic injustice. You must think blacks are inferior, for how else could one explain the disparities? “Blaming the victim” is the offense they will convict you of, if you’re lucky.

I claim this is a dare; a debater’s trick. Because, at the end of the day, what are those folks saying when they declare that “mass incarceration” is “racism”—that the high number of blacks in jails is, self-evidently, a sign of racial antipathy? To respond, “No. It’s mainly a sign of anti-social behavior by criminals who happen to be black,” one risks being dismissed as a moral reprobate. This is so, even if the speaker is black. Just ask Justice Clarence Thomas. Nobody wants to be cancelled.

But we should all want to stay in touch with reality. Common sense and much evidence suggest that, on the whole, people are not being arrested, convicted, and sentenced because of their race. Those in prison are, in the main, those who have broken the law—who have hurt others, or stolen things, or otherwise violated the basic behavioral norms which make civil society possible. Seeing prisons as a racist conspiracy to confine black people is an absurd proposition. No serious person could believe it. Not really. Indeed, it is self-evident that those taking lives on the streets of St. Louis, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Chicago are, to a man, behaving despicably. Moreover, those bearing the cost of such pathology, almost exclusively, are other blacks. An ideology that ascribes this violent behavior to racism is laughable. Of course, this is an unspeakable truth—but no writer or social critic, of whatever race, should be cancelled for saying so.

. . .

Nor does anybody actually believe that 70 percent of African American babies being born to a woman without a husband is (1) a good thing or (2) due to anti-black racism. People say this, but they don’t believe it. They are bluffing—daring you to observe that the 21st-century failures of African Americans to take full advantage of the opportunities created by the 20th century’s revolution of civil rights are palpable and damning. These failures are being denied at every turn, and these denials are sustained by a threat to “cancel” dissenters for being “racists.” This position is simply not tenable. The end of Jim Crow segregation and the advent of the era of equal rights was transformative for blacks. And now—a half-century down the line—we still have these disparities. This is a shameful blight on our society, I agree. But the plain fact of the matter is that some considerable responsibility for this sorry state of affairs lies with black people ourselves. Dare we Americans acknowledge this?

. . .

… in terms of police killings, we are talking about 300 victims per year who are black. Not all of them are unarmed innocents. Some are engaged in violent conflict with police officers that leads to them being killed. Some are instances like George Floyd—problematic in the extreme, without question—that deserve the scrutiny of concerned persons. Still, we need to bear in mind that this is a country of more than 300 million people with scores of concentrated urban areas where police interact with citizens. Tens of thousands of arrests occur daily in the United States. So, these events—which are extremely regrettable and often do not reflect well on the police—are, nevertheless, quite rare.

To put it in perspective, there are about 17,000 homicides in the United States every year, nearly half of which involve black perpetrators. The vast majority of those have other blacks as victims. For every black killed by the police, more than 25 other black people meet their end because of homicides committed by other blacks. This is not to ignore the significance of holding police accountable for how they exercise their power vis-à-vis citizens. It is merely to notice how very easy it is to overstate the significance and the extent of this phenomenon, precisely as the Black Lives Matter activists have done.

There’s more at the link.

The author raises important points, but in my opinion also bends over backwards to avoid offending those activists of his own race who are promoting “cancel culture” and trying to silence any views that dissent from their own.  I suppose it’s like approaching the problem from two different perspectives.  Let’s take inner-city crime as an example.  It’s unarguable that most inner-city crime is committed by blacks against other blacks.  The FBI crime statistics tell the story, year after year after year.  That’s the reality.

There are two main ways (probably more than two, but I digress) of approaching it.  One is to say, “Let’s stop that behavior, by any means necessary:  then, when we’ve made our inner cities safer places to live, let’s go into how to reform and improve them so that those living there have better life chances and choices in the future.”  That’s how I would tackle it.  Deal with the problem – by whatever means are necessary.  Once crime is under control, then we can sort out the underlying factors.  The other approach, often argued by “elites”, is that we should fix the underlying problems first.  That would then lead to a decline in the problem, and its eventual solution.  I call that a cop-out.  What about those suffering right now under that crime wave?  They must be protected.  To do that, criminals must be stopped.  Unless and until that is done, we’re abandoning those who most need help – and that’s unacceptable.

The article strikes me as Utopian in its expectations, but the author’s entitled to his opinion.  Go read it for yourself, and let us know what you think in Comments.



  1. Much of The Old West was cleaned up when the criminals were handled immediately, and violently. To society today, it seems harsh, but considering how many cities are turning into the lawless habitats of criminals, it's probably the only thing that will work.

  2. The huge flaw in the "Elites" plan of cleaning up underlying problems first is the assumption they have correctly identified the underlying problems AND that the problems can be fixed.

  3. Uncomfortable truth: One third of all blacks in America are convicted felons. And that's after all the plea bargains lowering the severity of the crime they are eventually convicted of.

    Uncomfortable truth: The average shooting victim has been arrested more than ten times. The average shooter has been arrested more than twenty times.

    Uncomfortable truth: Here in America, we don't have a policing problem. We have a court ("criminal justice") problem. And that's without governors and mayors just letting thousands of convicts out of prison because there's a nasty cold going around. Or to get reelection points from the media.

  4. Some are instances like George Floyd—problematic in the extreme, without question—that deserve the scrutiny of concerned persons.

    Saint George died of an overdose of fentanyl, according to the coroner.
    Information conveniently unavailable long enough to allow the
    Murdered by cop
    Mantra to take hold.
    Somewhat similar to the evidence that
    The Gentle Giant
    Didn't have his hands up and shot dead for no reason
    Was bullshit.
    And the media were doing their best to incite a race war, knowing the evidence did not support the claims.

  5. And, to talk about systemic racism…

    The most dangerous thing a white woman can do is be around a black man. Most white women murdered are by black men. Followed by black women.

    The most danger to a white man is a black man.

    The most danger to anyone is to be involved in a criminal lifestyle, as criminals prey upon each other.

    Very few 'stranger' crimes (where the victim is really a stranger to the criminal) occur. Most victims are known to their attackers.

    Even more rare are the 'true innocent' victims. Though… true innocents are most likely to be victimized by black career criminals.

    It's all in the FBI stats and state stats. The serial killer most likely preys upon drug users and prostitutes and other criminals. And the most prolific serial killers tend to be white because the system still rejects labeling blacks as serial killers or spree killers. Else, Ted Bundy would be a piker in comparison to all of the 'unsolved' deaths with the exact same MO across the board.

    But to say this is to be labeled a Racist of the First Order, just one notch down from a Grand Klegle or whatever (well, unless that grand k whatever is a democrat senator or representative…)

    And there's a simple way to confirm this without going to FBI stats. Binge watch a couple seasons of "The First 48" and note the victim-attacker relationships and the races and criminal statuses of all.

    Subtle hint: When the cops are able to pull up the victim's photo from the criminal database and not have to find a DL photo, then… well…

  6. If you’re not a regular reader of Quillette, you should be. And they deserve your financial support.

    They’re currently banned from Facebook due to Facebook’s battle with the Gov. of Australia over their plan to tax Facebook’s use of news links.

  7. Excellent post. Spot-on. My favorite evidence of the media cover-up of black crime is describing homicides that occur during a carjacking, for instance, as "a carjacking gone wrong." What exactly, then, is a "carjacking gone right?" Or a homicide during a drug deal as a "drug deal gone wrong". There's always that hint, or bias if you will, that the illegal act that precipitated the homicide is somehow 'normal' and 'acceptable'. Tractorguy

  8. A lot of this can be blamed on widespread father absence in the Black community.

    When Black people learn about the concept of delayed gratification, then things will change. Until then…

  9. I suspect this is about as close to truth as we can expect, though it still falls a bit short, in my opinion. Honest self-criticism is hard to come by.

  10. I grew up and lived in what was Northern Rhodesia in central Africa. I went to University in the-then apartheid South Africa and worked there for nearly two years before returning to what was now Zambia.
    The crime rate in Zambia had risen to very alarming levels, mostly because now robberies and burglaries were being committed by men armed with hand-guns and AK47s.
    I left Africa in 1973, went to the UK and eventually joined a Colonial Police Force, the Royal Hong Kong Police.
    It was only in 1995 that I returned to visit family in South Africa and I was apalled at the changes I witnessed. Houses were now behind walls topped with razor wire, stopping at red traffic lights was a major hazard because of car-jackings and armed robberies. Almost everyone I talked to had either been robbed or knew of a close friend or family member who had been the victim of a crime of armed violence.
    I thought that was very bad news indeed, but it wasn't until I talked with a number of black South Africans that I began to realise the magnitude of the crime problem.
    Rapes, robberies and murders were rife in the townships (previously designated black residential areas) and in the new 'informal settlements', better described as densely populated and ill-served squatter areas. I was informed by a resident of one such area of a crime that I found hard to believe. Then other black residents of such areas confirmed it to me. Babies were being raped as a cure for AIDS. I mean BABIES in diapers.
    I was reliably informed that many such cases were never reported because of fear of dire retribution. Hospitals seldom received such cases as bodies were 'disappeared'.
    All of the crime problems I have described were and are committed by blacks. It appears to me that you in the US are suffering from what Africa suffers from, an population which cannot be educated, of one particular racial (dare I say that?) group, intent on surviving and prospering by preying on the more vulnerable members of that particular group. Drugs and the profits therefrom simply exacerbate the problem.
    You in the USA are now trying to solve a problem which has no apparent solution. It is not history nor slavery nor Jim Crow laws which are the problem. It is the people involved in the problem. The parallels between Chicago and Detroit, Johannesburg and Cape Town cannot be ignored.

  11. Glenn is a very interesting voice. You should listen to his podcast. I enjoy his sense of humor, and his approach to life. He's very much not Utopian – nearing dark in his outlook on life at times, which his fellow podcaster John McWhorter cheers up a bit with a more optimistic take.

    There's a recent episode Glenn did with Robert Cherry, which I highly recommend. The crime stats from 2020 are nothing short of alarming.

  12. @Steve Selsey:

    Assuming you left after retirement and are not gracing Discovery Bay Plaza late afternoons, you’ll be pleased to know that the Africans (‘refugees’, no less) have been hard at it selling drugs along Wyndham Street a hop and a skip from you Coppers’ sacred mango tree, and in Wanchai this last decade or so. As it so goes in the West, there are always some sad, messed up womenfolk who are more than happy advocate for them.

    There are good and bad and smart and dumb Africans. And there are different Gaussian distributions for different races. We here all have some inkling of sub-Saharan IQ and the existence of a Thomas Sowell or three doesn’t change facts life down at the local bodega an iota. It’s really that simple. And to pretend otherwise is criminally insane in the general public and evil beyond words in policy makers and rulers.

  13. Is there still racism in America? Of course, there will be as long as humans exist. Is it as wide spread or pervasive as the left claims? No. Most people get along without consideration of skin color. As Dr King said, content of character…

  14. Humans like domestic animals have been domesticated to varying degrees. Just as in animals domestication was by setting bounds and eliminating those that trnsgressed those bounds.

    In the case of humans this required the heirarchical structures of society. The Christianization of Europe brought an end to Viking raids and other focal violence.

    Functioning in a hierarchy selected for intelligence and against aggressiveness. The highest IQ cohorts on earth are the Mongolians, followed by the Chinese and other far easterners, then Ashkenazi Jews, south asians (Indians) and europeans. The far easterners had the domesticating influence of Genghis Khan and his descendants, the Ashkenazi Jews had pogroms, the south asians had the jihadist invasions, and medieval europe had a marked intolerance to breaching social norms.

    Modern society frowns upon on-the-spot extermination, and the consequence is the survival of the problematic and deterioration of the species.

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