The Talk: What Parents Tell Their Children About John Derbyshire

(7) Of most importance to your personal safety are the very different means for antisocial behavior by racist people, which you will see reflected in, for instance, school disciplinary measures, political corruption, and criminal convictions.

(8) These differences are magnified by the hostility many racists feel toward people of other races. Thus, while racist-on-racist behavior is more antisocial in the average than is nonracist-on-nonracist behavior, average racist-on-minority behavior is a degree more antisocial yet.

(9) A small cohort of racists -- in my experience, around 0.5 percent -- is ferociously hostile to people of other races and will go to great lengths to inconvenience or harm them. A slightly larger cohort of racists may go along passively if the point-five percent take leadership in some event. They may do this out of a vague feeling that the minorities 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 common sense:

(10a) Avoid concentrations of racists not all known to you personally.

(10b) Stay out of heavily racist neighborhoods and clubs, especially if you want to run for public office.

(10c) If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with racists on that date.

(10d) Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of racists.

(10e) If you are at some public event at which the number of racists suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.

(10f) Do not settle in a district or municipality run by politicians who implement laws that promote racism.

(10g) Before voting for a racist politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a nonracist.

(10h) This item in Derbyshire's original list stated, "Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway." It wouldn't be right to discourage Good Samaritanism toward racist people, even as satire, so we'll just strike this one.

(10i) If accosted by a strange racist in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving.

(11) Statistics on average test score results by race are a great starting point for conversations about how our society administers education or health care differently to different people, disparities in social services or nutrition or economic opportunities, or the degree to which institutionalized racism still effects American life. They are not evidence of racial superiority or inferiority.

(12) This bulletpoint really defies satire, so here's the original:

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 people who are racist, there are nonetheless many intelligent and well-socialized racists. (I'll use IWSR as an ad hoc abbreviation.) You should consciously seek opportunities to make friends with IWSRs. In addition to the ordinary pleasures of friendship, you will gain an opportunity to help your new friend expand his or her understanding of race and whether it really determines a person's innermost qualities.

(14) Be aware, however, that there is an issue of supply and demand here. Demand comes from organizations and businesses keen to profit from racial resentments by employing IWSRs, especially in positions at the interface with the general public -- talk radio hosts, TV news presenters, and, apparently, also anyone who thinks tanning salons should be taxed -- with corresponding depletion in less visible positions.

(15) Fortunately, ISWRs are depleting in supply, as being openly racist in the U.S. becomes costlier and as Americans themselves become less racist. Moments such as the publication of and backlash against John Derbyshire's article are an opportunity to out one racist, and, more importantly, they are an opportunity to confront the racism that still exists in American society. Derbyshire, after all, has been writing this stuff unmolested for over a decade. Instead of focusing on why we reject his views now, maybe we should be considering why we tolerated them for so long.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

You don't have to follow my version of the talk point for point; but if you are nonracist 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 someone's life.

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Max Fisher is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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