Contrary to demographic scare stories disseminated by the far-right, black people don’t really hold that strong a hand in terms of numbers. While Western European nations like Germany and France don’t keep racial statistics, in the U.K. where I live – and which is arguably the most diverse country in all of Europe – ethnic minorities constitute just 13 percent of the population, with my group (blacks and mixed-black) making up under five percent. Moreover, an important factor that’s usually overlooked in discussions on race in Britain is how significantly European Union (E.U.) immigration has ‘whitened’ the country. Whites currently constitute 87 percent of the U.K. population, but this proportion will likely rise in the near future once a majority of the 3.8 million overwhelmingly-white European Union citizens living in the U.K. acquire British citizenship following Britain’s departure from the E.U. Most of these E.U. citizens are from Eastern European countries like Poland, my mother’s birthland, where people generally have a stronger sense of white identity and have more provincial views on race than the indigenous white-British population.
Archives For racial identity
The salient question should never have been who to blame for blacks’ predicament, but who is able to fix it. If the problem were simply a lack of cash, then the government would be the ideal candidate. But if we learned anything from the explosion of violent crime and single motherhood following welfare expansion in the late 1960s, it was that cash transfers cannot solve a problem that the absence of cash didn’t cause. Herein lies one of the many issues with reparations: it would not address the root causes of black underachievement. Fans of the concept should ask themselves: what will happen the day after reparations are paid, when black students still spend less time on homework than their white peers, blacks are still making poor financial decisions, and two out of every three black kids are still living in single-parent homes? On that day, I’d hope to see progressive scholars acknowledge that they had been asking the wrong question for 50 years. But I would not be shocked to hear them insist that, if only the reparations checks had been a bit larger, black America’s problems would have been solved.
This, more than anything, is what is so unsettling about Mr. Coates’s recent writing and the tenor of the leftist “woke” discourse he epitomizes. Though it is not at all morally equivalent, it is nonetheless in sync with the toxic premises of white supremacism. Both sides eagerly reduce people to abstract color categories, all the while feeding off of and legitimizing each other, while those of us searching for gray areas and common ground get devoured twice. Both sides mystify racial identity, interpreting it as something fixed, determinative and almost supernatural. For Mr. Coates, whiteness is a “talisman,” an “amulet” of “eldritch energies” that explains all injustice; for the abysmal early-20th-century Italian fascist and racist icon Julius Evola, it was a “meta-biological force,” a collective mind-spirit that justifies all inequality. In either case, whites are preordained to walk that special path. It is a dangerous vision of life we should refuse no matter who is doing the conjuring.