White Guilt

John Derbyshire is racist, but I’m not. This isn’t just me talking, it’sScience!

I tookthis survey, called the Implicit Association Test, whichDerbyshire told Gawker’s Maureen O’Connor he had taken to determine if he’s really racist. He calls it “the best quantifier we have to date” on peoples’ attitudes toward race, because it flashes pictures of black people and pictures of white people, and then words that are positive and negative, all in rapid succession. You are supposed to push a particular button on your keyboard as quickly as possible in response to the images. It’s supposed to test your reflexive responses, for example: do you instinctively recoil in horror at the sight of a black person? I am glad to say no, I do not.

I found it more a test of manual dexterity and knowing your right hand from your left, something I tend to confuse when I’ve had a couple glasses of wine, which is what I had done before deciding to take the test. This is against protocol: the instructions say to be “free of distractions,” and not only was I imbibing my evening chardonnay but I was on my porch keeping one eye on the dogs. Oops.

Be that as it may, Derbyshire released his test results, which showed he has a “strong automatic preference” for European Americans. It also showed him to be highly neurotic — big shocker there. My test results indicate that, at least after a couple glasses of wine, I am definitelynot racist. Also, I really hate Ron Paul:

Your data suggest little to no difference in implicit preference between Black People and White People.

Your data suggest a strong implicit preference for Barack Obama compared to Ron Paul.

Well, that is a tremendous relief. Considering what a racist old crank Ron Paul is, by all rights any preference for Paul qualifies as a racist trait in my book.

When you get your test results they tell you this:

As such, the score should serve as an opportunity for self-reflection, not as a definitive assessment of your implicit thoughts or feelings. This and future research will clarify the way in which implicit thinking and feelings affects our perception, judgment, and action.

It appears John Derbyshire used his opportunity for self-reflection to conclude, Fuck yeah, I’m racist! To the core, bay-beee! This is news to no one, and as heinous as was his column for Stormfront Monthly — or whatever the fuck online rag published his final diatribe — at least he was honest about it.

Far more pernicious is the racism we have here in Nashville, which is so deeply ingrained that people here will honestly claim not to be racist while using the N-word. Actually, what usually happens is theywhisper the N-word, like that somehow is okay.

Nashville is the most segregated city I have ever lived in. You simply do not walk into a restaurant in affluent West Nashville and see large numbers of black customers. I’m not even talking F. Scott’s or Sunset Grill, I’m talking Cracker Barrel and Panera. Maybe at Waffle House, I don’t know, we don’t eat there. Where are all the black people? For the most part in North Nashville, the “black” neighborhood. When we go to that part of town to eat we aren’t the only white faces, though. There is a freedom of mobility among Nashvlle’s white residents that its African American citizens do not enjoy. Black people caught out of “their part of town” are suspicious and might, like Trayvon Martin, get shot, because it is assumed they are up to no good. And this is how a large number of white Nashvillians like it, especially people who grew up here.

People, I have lost friends over this issue, in particular one very good friend who, after like the gazillionth time of telling me “everything was fine” in X neighborhood “until the blacks moved in,” I finally told her she was racist and to STFU already. And she told me I had “white guilt.” We do not speak any longer.

“White guilt” is another one of those things racists think gives them a pass. Like this idiot who says“black pain is no different from white pain” — the kind of intellectually lazy justification you would expect from an asshole who equates having his bike stolen to hundreds of years of cultural and institutional oppression. Maybe that’s my “white guilt” talking but what the hell? You better believe I feel guilty. My question is, why the hell don’t you? To pretend that America does not owe its place in the world to the legal exploitation of black, brown, yellow and red people whom we oppressed for generations is the sort of willful stupidity that makes me want to scream. We built this nation on cheap labor and theft. You don’t feel bad about that? I do.

I grew up in a family that’s half Jewish and half Catholic, so trust me when I say: I’ve got this guilt thing down cold. I cut my milk teeth on guilt and, like political correctness, I don’t see why it’s such a bad thing. Guilt to me is just empathy in an ugly dress. Everyone could use a little more guilt, without it you’re a sociopath. Which is where a lot of conservatives seem to wind up, big surprise there. But the truth is, that side of the aisle doesn’t want to feel guilty and they don’t want to have to worry about being “politically correct” because they’re tired of being told they’rewrong all the time. Just once in their lives they want to be right.

I don’t know what to tell those folks, the ones who were wrong about slavery and wrong about civil rights and wrong about women’s rights and wrong about the Vietnam War and wrong about the Iraq War. Why are these people wrong all the time? Because they lack the cultural relevance to be the decider on such things. Ouch that hurts, but then, the truth often does.

Perhaps I should feel guilty that 27% of America is chafing under its cultural irrelevance but I don’t. They have Christian music, Victoria Jackson and Kirk Cameron movies to give them the illusion of cultural relevance. They will have to be satisfied with ersatz relevance while the rest of us march bravely into the future.

Look who’s Left Behind now. Bwaaha.

15 thoughts on “White Guilt

  1. I, too, have lost friends over this issue. The most recent was a long-time casually-racist friend, who informed me with much smug superiority that *I* am in fact the real racist, as I am aware that some people are not white.
    He also justified use of the N word by stating that there are both black and white N words, so it is not racist, not at all. Plus, black people say it all the time, so white people are the oppressed ones.

  2. Living in a small rural town in MO, I often find myself isolated as the vast majority of the folks here are the ones who, as you describe it, are wrong on everything. It is hard to almost impossible to find someone I can talk to for 10 minutes without having to deal with their hangups – which they say they don’t have.

  3. I don’t agree about guilt and empathy. Although they may be cousins, I think they live in different countries. That said, everyone could use a lot more empathy.

  4. “Your data suggest little to no difference in implicit preference between Black People and White People.
    Your data suggest a moderate implicit preference for Barack Obama compared to Ron Paul. ”
    I’m rather shocked by my moderate preference for BHO over Goldbuggy.

  5. Wow, I scored with the two percent who showed a “strong automatic preference for black people”–I’m kind of stunned. I’m white and have what I think of as a strong liberal/radical tendencies and am pretty historically informed and etc… but I assumed I have the same automatic and almost autonomic prejudices of the white majority. I thought those would become evident during the test. Guess I’m more evolved, or have better hand eye co-ordination–than I thought.

  6. Maybe I’m trying to make excuses for myself (I got “slight preference for white people”) but the test seems kind of convoluted (although I guess you can’t exactly test unconscious attitudes in a normal way) and, like you said, having a lot to do with hand-eye coordination, which I’m pretty sure I’m below average in.

  7. I’m a white guy, and I just found out I have a moderate implicit preference for black people.
    Mr. Beale got the same thing, also that he slightly prefers Herman Cain to Mitt Romney. Hilarious. We guessed “white guilt” for that result, too.
    I think the test is kind of weird, and perhaps favors gamers and people who play Angry Birds a lot.

  8. You don’t eat at Awful House? Not even ironically when you’re on that lonesome section of I-10 where’s there’s that and the gas station?

  9. Article and comments cover the issue well. As an aside though, and I think it could be established empirically, if you haven’t eaten in a Waffle House between 2-3 a.m. with the drunks, drug addicts, hookers and cops I’m not sure you can technically be described as liberal.

  10. I do too drive the interstates and when I fly I’m usually in coach. I don’t rack up enough miles to get free upgrades any more. Sniff yourself.
    But no, I don’t do Awful House. Nasssssty.

  11. But I don’t play angry birds, at all, or any other games. And I’m actually suffering from numbness in my right hand, so I don’t really think that hand eye coordination is the key. Actually, come to think of it, I also can’t tell my left from my right. However, I did find it easy to recognize the white and black faces and I thought the white faces were kind of ugly. I wonder about the way the faces were framed–what was the logic behind that? Also I believe they were all male, or framed so closely around the center/nose area and having no distinguishing hair that they were ambiguous as to sex.

  12. who’d’a’thunk my PTSD would indicate I have a negative reaction to guys?
    Yeah, kinda doesn’t matter what color the skin is. Kinda does matter what attitude the face expresses. Who’d’a thunk?

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