The Talk: Nonblack Version
This is the column that got me defenestrated by National Review, as covered at length . The original column is still in late 2019. In case something happens to it — you never know nowadays — I am archiving this copy here at my own website.
In the course of archiving I have inevitably found that many of the links in the original article no longer work. I have put in substitute links where I could find something suitable; elsewhere I have just left the text linkless.
There is much talk about "the talk."
Sean O'Reilly was 16 when his mother gave him the talk that most black parents give their teenage sons
Denisa R. Superville of the Hackensack (NJ) Record tells us. Meanwhile, down in Atlanta:
Her sons were 12 and 8 when Marlyn Tillman realized it was time for her to have the talk
Gracie Bonds Staples writes in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
talks about the talk in the New York Post. Someone bylined as talks about the talk in The New York Times. Darryl Owens talks about the talk in the Orlando Sentinel.
Yes, talk about the talk is all over.
There is a talk that nonblack Americans have with their kids, too. My own kids, now 19 and 16, have had it in bits and pieces as subtopics have arisen. If I were to assemble it into a single talk, it would look something like the following.
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(1) Among your fellow citizens are forty million who identify as black, and whom I shall refer to as black. The cumbersome (and ) term "African-American" seems to be in decline, thank goodness. "" and "" are archaisms. What you must call "the N-word" is used freely among blacks but is taboo to nonblacks.
(2) American blacks are descended from , with some white and aboriginal-American admixture. The overall average of non-African admixture is 20-25 percent. The admixture distribution is nonlinear, though: "It seems that around 10 percent of the African American population is more than half European in ancestry." (Same link.)
(3) Your own ancestry is mixed north-European and northeast-Asian, but blacks will take you to be white.
(4) The default principle in everyday personal encounters is, that as a fellow citizen, with the same rights and obligations as yourself, any individual black is entitled to the same courtesies you would extend to a nonblack citizen. That is basic good manners and good citizenship. In some unusual circumstances, however — e.g. paragraph (10h) below — this default principle should be overridden by considerations of personal safety.
(5) As with any population of such a size, there is great variation among blacks in every human trait (except, obviously, the trait of identifying oneself as black). They come fat, thin, tall, short, dumb, smart, introverted, extroverted, honest, crooked, athletic, sedentary, fastidious, sloppy, amiable, and obnoxious. There are black geniuses and black morons. There are black saints and black psychopaths. In a population of forty million, you will find almost any human type. Only at the far, far extremes of certain traits are there absences. There are, for example, no black winners. While this is civilizationally consequential, it will not likely ever be important to you personally. Most people live and die without ever meeting (or wishing to meet) a Fields Medal winner.
[Added when archiving: This column generated a lot of very silly comments, but I think the silliest of all was this one, concerning black mathematicians: "Well, Euclid is 'Euclid of Alexandria' which is in Egypt of course and Eratosthenes was born in Cyrene (modern Libya). So I don't think its erroneous to say they were black mathematicians." See .]
(6) As you go through life, however, you will experience an ever larger number of encounters with black Americans. Assuming your encounters are random — for example, not restricted only to black convicted murderers or to black investment bankers — the will inevitably kick in. You will observe that the means — the averages — of many traits are very different for black and white Americans, as has been confirmed by .
(7) Of most importance to your personal safety are the very different means for antisocial behavior, which you will see reflected in, for instance, , , and .
(8) These differences are magnified by . Thus, while black-on-black behavior is than is white-on-white behavior, average black-on-white behavior is .
(9) A small cohort of blacks — in my experience, around five percent — is hostile and will go to great lengths to inconvenience or harm us. A much larger cohort of blacks — around half — will go along passively if the five percent take leadership in some event. They will do this out of racial solidarity, the natural willingness of most human beings to be led, and a vague feeling that whites have it coming.
(10) Thus, while always attentive to the particular qualities of individuals, on the many occasions where you have nothing to guide you but knowledge of those mean differences, use statistical common sense:
(10a) Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.
(10b) 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 to death by gunshot).
(10d) Do not attend .
(10e) If you are at some public event at which , leave as quickly as possible.
(10f) Do not settle in a district or run by black politicians.
(10g) Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize much more carefully than you would a white.
(10h) Do not act the 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 than for whites. The 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 that anyone, of any race or nationality, has yet been able to devise. They are reflected in countless . "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.
(14) Be aware, however, that there is an issue of supply and demand here. Demand comes from organizations and businesses keen to display racial propriety by employing IWSBs, especially in positions at the interface with the general public — corporate sales reps, TV news presenters, press officers for government agencies, etc. — with corresponding depletion in less visible positions. There is also strong private demand from middle- and upper-class whites for personal bonds with IWSBs, for reasons given in the previous paragraph and also (next paragraph) as status markers.
(15) Unfortunately the demand is greater than the supply, so IWSBs are something of a luxury good, like antique furniture or corporate jets: boasted of by upper-class whites and wealthy organizations, coveted by the less prosperous. To be an IWSB in present-day US society is rarely before attained by any group of human beings in history. Try to curb your envy: it will be taken as prejudice (see paragraph 13).
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You don't have to follow my version of the talk point for point; but if you are white or Asian and have kids, you owe it to them to give them some version of the talk. It will save them a lot of time and trouble spent figuring things out for themselves. It may save their lives.