Talking About The Talk


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to

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260 Responses

  1. Tod Kelly says:

    I’m not sure there’s been a post Trayvon column I’ve enjoyed reading more than this JB.  I mean, I really, really loved this.Report

  2. Trumwill says:

    This is just a fantastic post. Thank you so much for hammering it out.


  3. Kazzy says:

    Well done. This is what true allyship (is that a word?) ought to look like. I’ve been working for a few years on a presentation on how white folks should approach topics like this and this pretty much blows what I had out of the water. Very well done.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

      All of the good stuff is Parker’s.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

        Which you rightfully acknowledged.  You owned your privilege, discussed the resulting discomfort, etc.  You asked his permission before moving forward.  You acknowledged him and his experience as individual and not necessarily representative of the entire race.  You didn’t presume to know everything on the topic, even after this experience.  Etc, etc, etc.  Basically, you avoided all the presumptuousness that often plagues even the most genuine attempts to be an ally.  Well done, sir.Report

  4. Stillwater says:

    Good job JB. Really good job. What you wrote here is the starting point of a conversation about race relations and racism. Or, it ought to be. That some folks (usually white and male, and older, or younger, and well off, or underprivileged) think it starts from somewhere else and spin tales about why is evidence of the problem. How is that not obvious?!?

    Of course, if someone’s internalized privilege, or subjectively determined that a commitment to realizing privilege is Right Thing To Do, then this post won’t make a hill a beans. To them. Others might feel differently.


    • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

      some garbling in that comment, as per usual. Well, the content’s there anyway.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

      The hard part is starting the conversation. Well, the *SCARY* part is starting the conversation. After that, it was easy.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

        Good point.

        In my experience, most people are more than happy to answer questions asked with honest intent.  Even if the question is asked in an inadvertently offensive way, if the person being asked trusts that the asker is genuinely trying to better understand and learn, they tend to be willing to correct, forgive, and educate.  A little trust, by both parties, goes a long way.Report

      • wardsmith in reply to Jaybird says:

        Why scary JB, aren’t you and Parker friends? Jess (not his real name) and I used to have talks like this all the time. He grew up in LA, and was working for me during the OJ trial (in fact he started shortly after the LA riots). We talked about the whole dynamic. He had come to my community on a football scholarship and stayed because he liked the area, although there were considerably less blacks than he was used to.Being unfailingly polite isn’t just good sense, it’s good business for all of us. I’m unfortunately less polite in comment sections than I would be in person, part of the nature of the medium I suppose.

        I’ve had a version of The Talk with my kids and it was similar enough. The “Don’t Be Stupid” theme ran throughout and there were gazillions of five minute refresher courses while they grew up. Since they’re half Chinese they have a tendency to look Hispanic to the uninitiated. Respecting the man with the gun was a recurring refrain. While I wasn’t necessarily concerned about racial violence, I was always concerned about violence in general. Even though I taught them some martial arts, they abjectly refused to stay with it nor improve on their skills beyond a rudimentary point. Probably that is for the better, in my day an altercation would end with broken bones at worst, nowadays it too often ends in gunfire.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to wardsmith says:

          There’s talking about fun stuff like the new Avengers movie and even arguing politics but “how has your life been screwed up because of institutional and/or casual racism?” is asking about a wound. I didn’t want to poke a wound.Report

  5. Scott says:

    I’m white and my dad who was a cop gave me the “talk.”  He told me to only say yes or no sir to cops. He told me to keep my mouth shut and to do whatever they told me to do, i.e. if they say get out of the car and get on the ground to do so.  He told me to keep my hands on the wheel if I got pulled over and tell them I was going to get my wallet out of my pocket.  People seem to think that cops won’t shoot white folks and he told me that it just isn’t true.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Scott says:

      Are you saying that the two talks are just the same? That black people have no reason to fear cops more than white people do?Report

      • Scott in reply to Stillwater says:


        My dad was very clear that if I mouthed off or was perceived as a threat I’d be beaten or shot as well, especially if it was at night or the officer was riding solo.Report

        • James Hanley in reply to Scott says:

          Scott, you’re a great politician.  You dodged that question as adroitly as any presidential candidate.Report

          • wonkie in reply to James Hanley says:

            To me the noteworthy aspect of his comment is the cynicism the cop father has toward other police officers. 

            I do believe that the potential for violence by cops is higher  if the person under scrutiny is a African American male. In fact a black man is more likley to get under scrutiny in the first place just for being a black male.  However, cops do shoot all sorts of people. My sister–white, professional, in her fifties–was nearly shot by a Chicago cop. He pulled her over because she was driving an old car in an affluent neighborhood. A backfire went off just as she was opening the car door. The cop jumped out of his vehicle, gun aimed at her and she threw herself on the ground, flinging her purse into the street. My guess is that the flying purse saved her because I think cops are less likely to shoot women, but that’s speculation of course. The cop pulled her over in the first place out of sheer profiling: old car, upscale neighborhood.Report

      • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Stillwater says:

        In time, my daughter will learn that there are three things you say to cops:  “Yes sir,” “No sir,” and “I do not consent to this search.”Report

    • Pat Cahalan in reply to Scott says:

      The first time I was pulled over I was 17 years old.

      I was living with my grandmother during the week, finishing the second semester of high school, and commuting to home in Walnut Creek on the weekends because my family moved in the middle of my senior year.  I had been stuck in traffic for almost three hours to go 35 miles, and when I got off the freeway the first thing that happened was some jackass in a BMW cut me off and I lost my temper and floored it and zoomed around him and got nailed for going 42 in a 35.

      When I saw the lights in my rear view mirror, I got seriously pissed.  I don’t remember why the week was so bad, but it was stressful for some reason and after I turned off the main road (there was no shoulder) I hit the ceiling of my car a couple of times and then I got out of the car and stamped around for a couple of seconds to calm down and then I waited for the officer to come up and I gave him my driver’s license and registration.

      A couple of years later, my brother told me how a cop drew on him in LA when he reached for the glovebox to get his registration because the cop thought he was going for a gun.  It occurred to me then that when I was 17, if I had not been driving through a seriously whitebread town driving a white Honda accord and wearing my college prep sweatshirt, I might have been thrown to the pavement at that traffic stop or worse.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

        It explains a lot to learn that you grew up in Walnut Creek.Report

        • Patrick Cahalan in reply to DensityDuck says:

          That would be a funny joke except I didn’t grow up in Walnut Creek.  I grew up mostly in San Jose.  You misread the comment.Report

          • James Hanley in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

            San Jose?  That explains even more!

            (I once had a class composed of high school students from around the country, so I asked each of them to describe their home and what was good about it.  The student from San Jose insisted there was nothing good about it. I’m sure there in fact is something good in San Jose, but in a region that has San Francisco, Berkeley, Palo Alto and Marin, San Jose just doesn’t seem, at least on the surface, to offer much.)Report

            • Patrick Cahalan in reply to James Hanley says:

              Looking back at it, I had a neighborhood where kids played ball in the street, a local park that you could walk to without your parents and it was all good, and a completely safe public bus route that I could ride to high school when I got that old.  There was a strip mall with a hobby store and a book store within easy biking distance, two comic book stores that were doable, and people paid attention to kids on bikes when you rode on the busy streets.

              I had a lot of freedom kids from lots of other places never had.  Even kids that grew up in San Francisco.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Perhaps when my former student gets a little older and more experienced he’ll realize that a boring town isn’t necessarily a bad place to live. I had to spend a few years in San Fran and L.A. to recognize the value (as well as the limits) of growing up in a Midwestern farm town.Report

              • Will H. in reply to James Hanley says:

                I too was eager for the city when I was young.
                I’ve had about enough of it by now.
                I dream of retiring on a small working farm with an orchard.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Will H. says:

                Retiring and working should never be used in the same sentence. 😉Report

              • Kimmi in reply to Will H. says:

                Growing what?

                Fruit trees are a tremendous pain and a half, but I wish you luck.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Kimmi says:

                I’m leaning toward pears or nectarines.
                I like cherry trees, because of the blossoms. But then the bird problem.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Kimmi says:

                Net the trees, and you get plenty if you just want to be a gentleman farmer and have enough for canning and handing buckets out to your friends and eating enough right off the tree to make you sick of cherries before the season’s over.

                I have no idea how the smaller but commercial orchards around Flathead keep the birds away enough to get in a decent crop, I’ll admit.  Probably they have an army of cats.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to Kimmi says:

                A cherry tree knows a thousand ways to die….

                we got one of the best east coast peach/nectarine farms out near our airport (the one that’s 30 miles from the city. TSA has deer-hunter issues).Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Will H. says:

                My father-in-law owns two adjacent properties in Montana.  About 11 acres, total.  He has about 30 fruit trees on the property, and nearly 60% of the total land space of it is empty pastureland.  He adds a couple of trees every now and again.  Mostly apples, a few pear, and of course cherries, both pie and eatin’.  There’s a largely empty barn, and an abandoned chicken house that could be cleaned out and repurposed if he ever lived there full-time.

                I have to say, that’s not a bad setup.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                That sounds like a good setup.
                I think I’d like to have a few goats to make cheese.

                Does he have to hire out to harvest the trees, or can he do 30 by himself?Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                I have friends who are going slowly off-grid in Portland, they have a bevy of chickens and are aiming for the goats next.  Cheese and milk and not as much overhead as a cow.

                Pigs are pretty easy.  I have this super-crazy idea that when I retire, I’ll raise and train pack mules.

                He has an arrangement with a friend who is a caretaker who keeps an eye on the property and another guy who comes in periodically to check on the trees, but they come in staggered so he’s usually there to bring in most of the crop, can/jar/jelly/etc as much as he wants, and then he tells Rusty to have people come by and pick up whatever they want, and the deer take the rest.Report

  6. Tom Van Dyke says:

     I then asked him his opinion on the whole Derbyshire essay flap and he hadn’t heard about it.

    I trust that didn’t surprise you—someone he never heard of before or will again, doing Chris Rock’s old act.Report

  7. Dan Miller says:

    I say this with the deepest respect: +1.Report

  8. Chris says:

    What I like about this post is that you didn’t even have to mention liberals or conservatives. As I’ve said many times in the recent discussions of race here, this is how it should be done. No one feels accused, no one feels offended, it’s just an invitation to dialogue. Nice job.


  9. Mike Dwyer says:

    “…after he got his driver’s license, his parents told him “now, the cops are going to be following you when you drive somewhere… Don’t Be Stupid. Follow traffic laws and, God Forbid, if you get pulled over, be respectful, and don’t talk back.” Another time it was “Don’t Be Stupid. Don’t call attention to yourself. If the cops ask you to do something, do what they say, no more no less.”

    “Dress better, groom better, speak better.”

    Echoing Scott here. I got the same talk. My grandfather was a cop so he covered the ‘how to behave when pulled over’ part. To this day if I get a speeding ticket I follow his advice to the letter. My dad was a blue collar construction worker and he gave me the ‘dress better, speaking better’ talk.

    Not sure what that means except maybe the advice being given by black parents would be just as wise even if racism didn’t exist.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      Perhaps, but if I were in, say, Compton, and I got pulled over, I might be asked what my business was in that neighborhood or if I were lost. A good deal different than a colleague who told of getting a DWB in Pacific Palisades, not all that far from where he lived at the time.

      The advice about expressing yourself in a respectful tone, keeping your cool, moving slowly and not presenting threats is good, but it would carry a particular focus that I don’t think I’ll ever really feel down to my bones the way a black man would.Report

    • Kimmi in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      but it wouldn’t have the punch. I can walk around Pacific Heights (or take your pick of uppercrust places), and not get the police called on me. Not have neighbors watching out their windows. There are plenty of places where black millionaires can’t go, evne if they’re dressed to the nines.Report

  10. Dhex says:

    Great post. Nothing more i can add.Report

  11. Mike Schilling says:

    This was awesome..Report

  12. greginak says:

    Good stuff Jay. White men had damn well be part of dealing with racism. If we ain’t part of the solution, well then…Report

  13. James K says:

    Well done Jaybird, this is an excellent piece.Report

  14. Will H. says:

    I thought about this for awhile before I commented. I read it shortly after you posted it when there were no comments, but my initial reaction wasn’t something I would want to put in print. See later in the comment for an explanation.

    As for how very presumptious this whole thing felt like when I was writing it, I respect that. I understand why you would feel that way, but I don’t find it presumptuous. The fact that the matter concerned you enough to talk with people of color about it, and that you cared enough to write it show me that your heat is in the right place. There’s a lot of courage in engagement, and especially when it’s awkward.

    I had the talk from a number of people over a number of years; most often my pastor (various ones) or some older fellow from work that took me under his wing, the high school counselor, etc., always an older male. The Talk didn’t come up so much in the family, because my family is multi-racial: Welsh with Indian, Chinese, & Mexican; which petty much shows that the Welsh will screw anything if you stick them out in the desert somewhere.

    It’s odd how my Chinese cousins looked very oriental when they were children, but less and less as they grow older. Me & my siblings didn’t really look so Indian growing up, but more and more as we age. Odd how that works.

    On the one hand, I like your friend’s idea of busing. There is no child that is naturally racist. It’s a fear that is accumulated over a period of time. I can’t say that the fear is irrational, not more so than many other fears. I think it’s more or less an odd manner of grouping and categorization, the human tendency to generalize. But I can’t say that the basis of the underlying fears are irrational; just the particular expression that those fear take.

    And so, I see the root cause as being inadequate information leading to hasty generalizations undertaken reflexively as a defense mechanism. I see no moral failing in that, not any more so than any other manner of ignorance. I see it as a matter which can and should be addressed.

    At one time, I had this curiosity about Jews, because I had never been around them before. After I met a few, I found them to be pretty boring, and my curiosity was satisfied. But it’s not like I walk around saying, “Jews will bore the fish out of you,” or something. I expected a bit more pizzazz, I suppose.

    The Talk, for me, generally centered around what I would call “official function” or “the masses.” In matters of official function, the officials would always be predisposed against me. I have generally found that to be the case. It’s a hard lesson, confirmed by experience. I have a deep-seated mistrust of government. The masses might accept me politely to my face, but their acceptance will never be genuine. Regardless of what I do, they will be happy to band together with one of their own the moment my back is turned.

    The “soft” racism of distaste or aversion doesn’t bother me so much. I see that as people with their own problems that I’m better off letting them deal with. Likewise, print doesn’t bother me so much. It’s when racism becomes violent or when there’s active discrimination that it really bothers me. I have a pretty thick skin otherwise.

    When I first read this, I was amazed that some people never had The Talk. I still find that odd. And it made me think that white people are stupid, and that they deserve to be robbed, or have any manner of mishap befall them for their enduring and clinging stupidity.

    This might surprise you, but whites are generally thought of as stupid among minority populations. In fact, the Mexican slang term for whites is huero / huera, meaning “addled.”

    Whites basically come in two shades: those that are disconnected entirely from the animal portion of the human organism, and those that are nothing but animal.

    I’m going to stop there before I end up offending a lot of people.

    Congratulations, JB.

    You just had The Talk.

    Immediately following the numeral 2.

    I would like it if you would show this to your friend, and give his response as well.Report

    • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Will H. says:

      Sub in “middle class” for “white people” in your part 2 and I’m pretty much in agreement with you.

      Most middle class people are disconnected entirely from the animal portion of their brain.  Many of them regard this as an accomplishment.Report

      • Will H. in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

        Thanks, PatC.
        I’m glad someone gets it.
        I was really concerned about how that might come off.
        I’m no hater.Report

        • James Hanley in reply to Will H. says:

          Will, I got it, too (despite being a middle class white person!), probably because I moved to San Francisco when I dropped out of college, ended up working and being friends with people of different races and listening to them, sometimes finding myself a minority in some place or group, and once getting my ass kicked in the ghetto because I was clueless enough to get in an argument.  When I moved out there, I was that stupid person, and I can only smile (sadly) at the accuracy of your description.Report

          • Will H. in reply to James Hanley says:

            I’m sorry that happened to you.
            You seem like a decent guy, and I would hate to see you come to harm.
            I’m glad you’re able to retain a sense of perspective about it.Report

        • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Will H. says:

          To expand a bit more on this…

          I think this is why a lot of middle class people have such a hard time dealing with their animal brain when it suddenly rears its head.  I remember at one point in college we were at a party at a friend’s house, she was a commuter student who lived in Compton.  So I’m sober, because I had the van and was the designated driver, and two girls want to go to the liquor store and pick up supplies.  I said sure, and we got directions to the closest place, and dropped in.

          So I’m here at a liquor store in Compton at 11:30pm with two obviously tanked underage cute college coeds and we’re probably the only three white people within five miles.  We walk in the door and just like in a bad stereotypical sitcom there’s two guys who are about as old as Moses at the counter, one chatting up the guy behind, and they both stop and look at us like, “Oh, there’s a story there,” which the bad stereotypical sitcom would probably heavily overlay with “what’s a bunch of white kids doin’ here?”, but in actuality it was the same look I probably would have gotten at any liquor store when you roll in at 11:30pm with two obviously tanked probably underage cute college coeds.

          I give them the exasperated sober guy, “The girls want Jagermeister.”  The guy behind the counter laughs and says, “Son, we don’t have that.”  I grinned at him and said, “Everybody has Jack Daniels, right?” and he takes down the bottle and gives me a look that was half “hey, nice job carting around two ladies” and half “now don’t you take advantage” and I paid for the liquor and some beer and we drove back to the party.

          So I’m describing this story to a couple of the people back at the party and one of the bystanders says, “Oh my gosh, I could never go into a liquor store *here*, I’d be scared to death” and I’m thinking to myself… being scared to death is one of the things that makes you act unnatural and get you into situations you don’t want to be in.Report

          • Will H. in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

            And I would like to clarify something here.
            The stupid/disconnected stereotype of whites is fairly widespread among minorities in the US.
            But we don’t think the same of the Germans or the Dutch or the Bosnians.
            To whatever degree those tendencies might be identifiable, it’s not a race issue, but a cultural one.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Will H. says:

      Oh, he’s already said that he wants to see what the comments are going to be.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Will H. says:

      “Whites basically come in two shades: those that are disconnected entirely from the animal portion of the human organism, and those that are nothing but animal.”

      See, when Derbyshire writes stuff like this, people call him a disgusting racist and think that if he were used as a toilet and jizz-catcher by baboons in heat it would be a start.

      That’s why I’m assuming that you can’t possibly be serious when you make a blindly racist statement like that.  You must be joking.

      But I dunno, maybe assuming that the person I’m talking to isn’t horribly racist is just White People Stupidity talking.Report

      • Will H. in reply to DensityDuck says:

        Yes and no.
        Yes, I’m serious that these are the typical hasty generalizations that people tend to make; real-life examples. And people that do that tend to find all manner of “evidence” that confirms those beliefs.
        But no, I personally do not believe those things, although I see that same “evidence” and assimilate it differently.
        In my case, “white people” in this context refers to “Yankees.” I grew up to hate Yankees. No good reason, really, but I found one later.
        Then I spent one year in upstate New York, and I loved it. I would probably still be there if the work in that area were not so seasonal.
        At times, when I’m angry, I can downshift into viewing those biases as true. But I know well enough to understand that that’s the anger talking to me. I don’t have to listen.
        Anger is the madness brought on by pain. I find it more beneficial to review the pain to see where it comes from. But that’s just me.
        I really don’t understand the uproar about Derbyshire. So the guy’s a little bit off– big deal. I’m more interested in how he got that way.
        Where I come from, racism has always been more of a Mexican/Indian thing anyway.
        Blacks are more of an oddity as far as minority populations go, because of their perceived unity.
        But, yeah, I was expecting to get flamed out for writing that. I’m glad it didn’t happen.Report

        • BlaiseP in reply to Will H. says:

          Here’s the Derb’s problem in a nutshell:  what people say about racism and what they do about it are entirely different things.   Derb thinks he’s telling us the truth about ourselves, that we really are racists under the covers, though we loudly reassure ourselves this is not so.

          America hasn’t embraced the colour-blind vision of Dr. King.   At best, we’re race-neutral.   As long as there’s a Congressional Black Caucus which won’t admit white people, let’s not pretend the black culture is any less troublesome in this regard.   Can you imagine the uproar if someone formed up a Congressional White Caucus?   That’s Derb’s point.   It’s an uncomfortable truth about us as a people and a nation:  the worst aspect of racism is our own acceptance of these terms and how we apply them to ourselves.  That debate won’t go away, not while Liberals and Conservatives accuse each other variously of condescending and Blowin’ Dog Whistles.Report

          • Damon in reply to BlaiseP says:

            + 1

            Excellent comment.  However, I’d take exception to the comment “at best, we’re race-neutral”.  I think we’re just better at hiding it.  I’ve spent lots of time in the Pacific Northwest, East coast, and the South.  In those regions there are varying levels of acceptance / tolerance and, more importantly, different modes of concealing / revealing racism.  I actually think it’s much worse in the East, and you’re right, everyone has it.  Humanity may have advanced a long way technologically, but I don’t think we’ve gotten out of the “tribal” mindset where anyone not looking like “us” is to be feared and viewed with suspicion.Report

            • BlaiseP in reply to Damon says:

              If the Derb really wanted to give us The Talk, what he’d have said would have more closely resemble a history lesson, working forward from America’s feckless avoidance of the Race Problem, from the dawn of the Republic.   The Founders tried to sweep it under the rug, the Great Compromisers only forestalled the problem — this state slave and that state free.   The Civil War didn’t solve the problem:  segregation only became the law during Reconstruction.   The Civil Rights struggle didn’t solve the issue,  those solutions came out of the courts, not from the political process.   Even into modern times, America is still pretending it doesn’t have a Race Problem.   It does, and the worst part of it resolves to everyone still subscribing to some theory of racial identity for themselves.

              So quit pretending it’s not a problem, ol’ Blaise would say, if he was writing up The Talk.   We’re not like other countries.   We can be different here.   Racism is a prison locked from the inside.   For all our hypocrisy on the subject, we know the cells of that prison can only be unlocked from the inside.   We will be liberated only when we realize we’re locked inside and quit pretending we’re huddling together to save ourselves from the Hated Other.Report

            • Will H. in reply to Damon says:

              There’s a bit more to it than just tribalism. Really, that whole line of thought is just another form of minimizing it. It’s just that it’s been registered as an acceptable method. But it doesn’t change the truth of it.
              I think Blaise is more or less on the right track with the historical bit of it.
              Think about it for a moment. These hasty generalizations whereby the grouping occurs would probably be a lot more accurate if it were done in terms of class. But class is even more of a taboo in America than race.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Will H. says:

                The great part of the American story is how often (and how gleefully!) we’ve transgressed the colour line.    Consider music, food, vocabulary, all the cultural forms we’ve adopted as Americans.  We know racism is bullshit, always have.  If the Klan were anything but contemptible hooligans, they wouldn’t have bothered with all those masks and robes.

                Modern historians go through the writings of the slave owners these days, they all knew it was wrong.   The most-despised character in the South was the slave seller.   Yes, we’ve had some big bold racists pound the pulpit but mostly it’s been fear and ignorance and groupthink which drove this country into separate corners.

                Martin Luther King Jr. once said America is never more segregated than it is on Sunday morning.  Religion supported racism as much or more than it condemned the practice.   Even in the Bible, there’s racism in the New Testament, Paul has to tell the Galatians: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

                Tribalism might not contain the whole of this evil but it’s the best term I can summon up to describe the problem.   Membership in the tribe involves hating what the tribe hates.   Perhaps the problem is more akin to how gangs form up and enforce their rules:  easy to get in, impossible to get out.   Prisons have separate areas for the guys who leave the gang:  nobody’s hated more than the Dropout.Report

          • DensityDuck in reply to BlaiseP says:

            Which is where I was going with the whole “incompetent satire” thing.  Derbyshire was trying to put forth a Modest Proposal for 2012.  I think he overestimated his audience’s familiarity with the practices of people who weren’t Like Them.Report

          • Jeff Wong in reply to BlaiseP says:

            I avoid young black men all of the time. However, I don’t feel proud of it and I wouldn’t sanction it as a practice, because I know if the young black men see me avoiding them, then I’ll be complicit in perpetuating the unfairness they face (unless they actually are crooks). That they might mitigate the coldness of strangers by dressing like Mormons or hipster bike messenger nerds, but that too is unfair. Perhaps there’s hope in the fact that being a “geek” is “cool” in some places.

            OTOH, it seems to be a trend that older white men can’t really go to a park alone and then suddenly strike up a cordial conversation with little girls. Especially if he has a beard.


    • Matty in reply to Will H. says:

      Welsh will screw anything if you stick them out in the desert somewhere

      Trust me a desert is not required.Report

  15. Kazzy says:

    “When I first read this, I was amazed that some people never had The Talk. I still find that odd. And it made me think that white people are stupid, and that they deserve to be robbed, or have any manner of mishap befall them for their enduring and clinging stupidity.”

    Most parents engage in some amount of socialization. Explicitly or implicitly, they teach their teacher the “ways of the world”. Parents are naturall going to base a lot of this on the world they grew up in, even if this is a different place than the world. It shouldn’t shock anyone that “the talk” for black people involves race, or fr girls involves gender, or for the poor involves class. Whether it is a wealthy white parent signaling to their child unspoken notions of “how to be” or a black parent sitting down their kid for a lecture in how to avoid a bad altercation with cops, my hunch is that this is a fairly universal phenomenon when we look at it broadly. So those folks probably are having A talk, just manifested in a different way than most folks from a marginalized subgroup, for whom their is likely a greater gap between their culture and the dominant culture.Report

  16. John Howard Griffin says:

    There’s hope for you yet, Jaybird.

    This is one of the many things I have had in mind when I have criticized you (and others) in the past about not being able or willing to understand. Apparently, I was wrong. You are a little more honest than I’ve given you credit for. The real test will be in how this changes you, or doesn’t change you, next week/month/year/decade. Will this go beyond asking a black friend at work about The Talk?Report

    • Jason Kuznicki in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

      I hope that Jaybird is gracious enough to accept this as a compliment.Report

      • John Howard Griffin in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        My apologies, Mr. Kuznicki, for being uppity.

        I’ll remember my place from now on, Sir.Report

        • Huh. I thought that that was a zing against me.Report

          • John Howard Griffin in reply to Jaybird says:

            I read Mr. Kuznicki as clearly saying that my comment was not complimentary enough (or even at all), thereby diminishing or dismissing my point.

            Boy, if I had a nickel for every time someone did that to me.Report

            • For what it’s worth, I read it as a pre-emptive admonition against me.

              I think I got the gist of what you were saying and while there was a part of me that said “Jesus Christ, I just wrote this essay, what do you want from me?”, there’s another part that thinks “yeah, well, I can totally see how this is just an essay and, really, all I did was talk to one of my friends, and he’s probably wondering if I’m going to vote for the ‘Keep Negroes North Of Constitution Avenue’ law” while pointing to this essay as evidence for how not racist I am. Which is a pattern he’s probably seen before.”

              I’ll just say that I don’t know how to best address your point. We’re going in the right direction? Let’s keep going? I can totally see how that sounds really good to me but not as good to you, though.


              • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Jaybird says:

                You’ve only made some baby steps, my friend.  And that’s all you’ll ever make, apparently.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                So long as I’m pointing in the right direction, I’ll get to where I’m going.Report

              • John Howard Griffin in reply to Jaybird says:

                Mr. Jaybird, please accept my apologies for the tone, the barbs, and the confrontational manner of my comments. It is true, all of that was my intention. I felt a need for balance, but there are many better ways I could have sought for it. I have no excuse for my actions. Please accept my apologies.

                You took a brave step in talking with your friend. You took a brave step in posting about it here. You took a brave step in responding to my challenging comment. I imagine that this journey has been difficult for you.Report

              • Dude. This is me. If you promise to keep talking even after you’re offended, I promise to keep talking even after I’m offended.

                For what it’s worth, the thing that you could have done to hurt my feelings most is to (somehow) have communicated that you read it but didn’t think it worth commenting on. Which probably indicates more stuff about me than we want to explore but there it is.

                All that to say: I’d rather have a long conversation than an apology any day of the week.Report

              • John Howard Griffin in reply to Jaybird says:

                I know it is you, Jaybird, but I still felt the need to apologize. It came from the heart. You are a worthy adversary, as the saying goes. (And, I already knew that thinking your post not worth commenting on was the true affront, which is why I tend to spar with you without pulling my punches).

                I agree to your terms, though it sometimes only takes a single commenter stop me from posting. I have no doubt that I may be that commenter to many others.Report

              • I never saw a need for an apology, for what it’s worth. I felt like we were just talkin’. The fact that you felt you could be honest was a compliment ten times the size of any insult that anyone else may have seen.

                If this thread/post contributed to today being a bad day for you rather than contributing to today being a good day for you, I apologize for that. It wasn’t my intention.Report

              • John Howard Griffin in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

                Often, when I decide to comment/talk honestly with some people/discuss difficult realities, I put on the armor first, because I know what’s coming. Sometimes it comes, and I’m ready. Sometimes it doesn’t come, and I respond as if it is still an attack. Occasionally, I am able to resist when it doesn’t come. The hard part is in knowing the difference beforehand and reacting appropriately. The even harder part is acknowledging the difference after and learning from it.Report

              • I’m sure that you’ve been bit after reading essays like this one a lot more times than I’ve been bit after writing essays like this one.Report

            • Jason Kuznicki in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

              My intention was simply to point out that there was a barb to the compliment.  I have no doubt that you intended it that way, because if you didn’t, you would never have thought to write it the way you did.

              It wasn’t to try to solicit more gratitude from you.  That wouldn’t be my place at all.Report

              • John Howard Griffin in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                No, you were simply trying to point out there was a barb to my compliment and diminish me in the process.

                You could have just written, “There is a barb in your compliment”. But, you didn’t. And, I imagine you wrote it the way you did because you wanted to make a larger point.

                Message received.Report

              • Will H. in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

                Before you two go splitting any more trees into its attendant splinters, let me say that I think both of you took each others’ statements as a bit of a slight, and unnecessarily so.
                Let us observe the distinction of comity and a charitable reading.

                You’re talking past each other now, and I don’t see any good to come of it.Report

              • Jason Kuznicki in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

                I am sorry that you feel diminished.  I am even more sorry that you received a message, of some sort, which I do not believe that I sent.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                That was really big of you, Jason.
                I have an immense amount of respect for you for saying that.

                I was going to say that earlier, but I wanted to give your interlocutor space enough to step up.
                But I didn’t want to let that pass unacknowledged.Report

              • John Howard Griffin in reply to Will H. says:

                You seem to have a low bar, Will H.

                Mr. Kuznicki made a politicians apology: “I’m sorry you were offended.”

                Meh. Ok.

                I haven’t commented until now because I do not have the luxury of posting on blogs all day, only during brief periods, and not every day. Most of the time, I do not comment, even at times when I might want to say something. I don’t really see the point on most days.

                If you want to see how you apologize, here you go:

                Mr. Kuznicki, I am sorry for escalating the conversation through the choice of my words. It was my intent to hurt you with those words, for I felt hurt by your words. This was wrong. I have no excuse. Please accept my apologies.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Will H. says:

                I agree that I do have a low bar– extremely low.
                I didn’t think that apologies were necessarily in order, but that was rather generous of you.
                For my purposes, something along the lines of, “Let us agree to move beyond this dispute,” would have been sufficient.

                And I don’t have much time on the computer either, so I understand completely.
                I get time in ten to twenty minute spells interspersed irregularly, and for some reason, this is what I choose to do with my time.

                But frankly, I am quite pleased that you would agree that a shared civility is a common value.
                And thank you for your consideration, rather than telling me to just butt out. I do sincerely appreciate it.Report

              • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Will H. says:

                I feel sincerely awful that I diminished you as a person with the things that I wrote.

                I don’t imagine that anything I say is going to make a difference at this point, but there you have it.  I am sorry.Report

              • John Howard Griffin in reply to Will H. says:

                The Mutual Apologetical Society will now come to order.

                Thank you for responding, Mr. Kuznicki. Thank you for apologizing again. My compliment was filled with barbs, it is true. It was my intent. Far too much congratulations and admiration in the comments. I felt a more robust need for balance, for I’ve seen this movie before. It seems too much, now that I look back on it. From all sides. But, mostly from my side.

                My only excuse is that I am human. A poor excuse, for certain.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Will H. says:

                John Howard Griffin [1920-1980], author of Black Like Me.  Interesting nom de plume, perhaps a clue, a self-revelation…Report

              • John Howard Griffin in reply to Will H. says:

                Boy, you really do have everything figured out, Mr. Van Dyke. It must be great that everything is so simple for you.

                I have the same name as that fine author, so I must be doing the same thing he did. Right?

                Which means that you must be THE Tom Van Dyke! Vice President of Clinical and Translational Research,
                Chair Department of Periodontology!

                You know, the guy who, together with Dr. Serhan, identified novel components in the resolution of inflammation and has been working to use novel lipid mediators for the control of local inflammation!! Wow! It’s so great to finally meet you.

                It is truly remarkable that you are considered a valuable poster and commenter here. I do not find you to be so.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Will H. says:

                Wow, Mr. Griffin.  Thx for sharing.  Me, I was trying to figure out where you were coming from, besides undifferentiated anger.  If it’s all the same to you, after reading your performance here today for good and ill, I’d rather not be your penpal any further.

                I liked the book very much.  The James Whitmore movie, not so much.  Peace.


              • Stillwater in reply to Will H. says:

                Tom, you just confirmed everything he said about you.

                Here’s my take on it. JHG is talking as a person on the planet, with experiences and uniqueness and a perspective which most people on this board cannot understand. Then others come along and say ‘To hell with your individuality, JHG, and your personal experiences. What matters is the values being promoted. The principles. Independently of the color of anyone’s skin. Why does empathy matter here? Perspective is irrelevant when I’m talking about Universal Truths!’

                So, maybe you can see a disconnect in all that?Report

              • John Howard Griffin in reply to Will H. says:

                Mr. Van Dyke, I mean this in the worst possible way: You are a front page troll.

                Mr. Stillwater, thanks for seeing the forest and the trees.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Will H. says:

                Mr. Griffin, I wasn’t dogging you.  I liked “Black Like Me” very much and it’s quite relevant to the current discussion, whites trying to feel the crap that black folk go through in America.  If you’re looking for a fight, include me out.

                Mr. Stillwater, thx for that.  You understand why I don’t wish to play frog to your scorpion any longer.  This river has scorpions coming out its ears, and the frogs are disappearing as we speak.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Will H. says:

                Some things never change.

                Even in the big group hug, some people just get a kick in the nads.
                Shame, that.Report

        • Jason Kuznicki in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

          Because everything that a white guy says is necessarily an accusation of uppityness.

          Fact is, you were more than a little condescending in your compliment.  “Hope for you yet,” indeed.

          Now I’ve certainly done the same myself — it’s not a race thing, this time, and I don’t even recall that you’ve indicated your race one way or the other.  But if you’re going to condescend, own it.  That’s all.Report

          • John Howard Griffin in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

            Where did I not own it?

            Fact is, YOU were more than a little condescending in YOUR comment. I guess it’s ok for you to do it, though. Glad you’re here to point out all the instances where I am wrong.

            Re: uppity, if you want to be honest, let’s be honest. You say Jaybird needs to be gracious (a superior position). Hence my position must be inferior. Jaybird must “accept” my comment, another superior position. All you needed were the scare quotes around “compliment” and it would have been the perfect example.Report

            • Jason Kuznicki in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

              Where did I not own it?

              You failed to own it when you turned my simple observation — that you had offered a compliment that was perhaps difficult to accept — into a charge that I’d accused you of being uppity.

              As to pointing out instances where you were “wrong,” I didn’t do that.  You are perfectly allowed here to make critical comments, and there is not a thing wrong with it.  I don’t even necessarily think that you’re wrong (except about the “uppity” business, but I’ve already clearly stated as much).

              And as to Jaybird’s graciousness, it’s not necessarily from a position of superiority.  On the contrary, if I were in his shoes, I would be summoning up the humility to accept your compliment, as such, and to leave it at that.  One strives to be gracious at all times, and notably before superiors as well as inferiors.

              And finally, I did not use scare quotes because I did not intend to use them.  The thought never entered my mind.Report

    • My female friends (especially Maribou) are doing what they can to make me less misogynist. My homosexual friends are doing what they can to make me less homophobic. My black (and Hispanic, and Asian, and Irish) friends are doing what they can to make me less racist.

      We’ll muddle through.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

        And, likewise, I am sure they are learning from you.  But, yea, white, heterosexual, cis gender males probably have a bit more to learn and tend to have fewer opportunities to do so.Report

      • John Howard Griffin in reply to Jaybird says:

        Well, if they are really your friends, I would expect nothing less.

        But, what are you doing?

        I’ve heard something similar to what you’ve written many times before. For a time it makes the white person feel better about themselves, but rarely lasts very long. Many fine congratulations by other white friends about empathy and understanding are made, so that those other white friends can share in that good feeling. Yet, the disagreements about what to do about any of this continue.

        Your interaction with Parker is a good step. But, it is only a step on a road, and that road may not lead to places of comfort.Report

        • I don’t know that this is a problem that I can *DO* something about other than do what I can to remain in a constant state of moral awareness.

          I suspect that you’re not talking about “how can you make this an opportunity for personal betterment!” but “how are you going to change the world?” and we can start talking about government policy and whatnot… for what it’s worth, I’ve been thinking about busing more. If there’s a policy that I think might do what we’d all want it to do, busing would probably come closest to accomplishing what we want to accomplish.

          I mean, when it comes to gay marriage, what’s the number one thing that gets straight (and otherwise privileged) people to change their mind? To make them think about their gay friend, their gay uncle, their gay in-law and hold back from making a joke that relies heavily on homosexual imagery or even to hold back from voting against gay marriage.

          When it comes to the things that I think would do the most good to combat racism and get us closer to where we want to be, I think that white people should have more black friends. Share meals with each other. Maybe that will help white (and otherwise privileged) people to hold back from making a joke that relies heavily on black stereotypes (or even to hold back from voting against such things as busing).Report

          • Will H. in reply to Jaybird says:

            I really don’t think it’s your place to “do something about it.”
            That is so totally unfair.
            To re-iterate my point above:

            “There is no child that is naturally racist. It’s a fear that is accumulated over a period of time. I can’t say that the fear is irrational, not more so than many other fears. I think it’s more or less an odd manner of grouping and categorization, the human tendency to generalize. But I can’t say that the basis of the underlying fears are irrational; just the particular expression that those fear take.

            “And so, I see the root cause as being inadequate information leading to hasty generalizations undertaken reflexively as a defense mechanism. I see no moral failing in that, not any more so than any other manner of ignorance. I see it as a matter which can and should be addressed.”

            The proper means of addressing the issue is through adequate information.
            And that means that people– you, me, and everybody else– need, most of all, a sense of frankness and openness.
            It would be unrealistic to demand the dispersal of adequate information in all places simultaneously.

            There’s some kind of balance that I’m struggling for here, but can’t quite seem to put it into words.Report

            • John Howard Griffin in reply to Will H. says:

              I really don’t think it’s your place to “do something about it.”
              That is so totally unfair.

              If everyone believes that it’s not our place to do something about it, and never try, nothing will change.Report

              • Will H. in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

                That’s the balance I was struggling for.
                You have to call it when you see it, but you can’t call it all the time, or it’s meaningless.

                I work in a trade where the men have some particularities to them (to say the least). You have to observe the rules, or you can offend someone in a bad way, and it can be held against you for a long time. One of those rules is table manners– very strict. We might invite you to eat with us, but there is an understanding that you do so on our rules.
                I was at a place where we ordered out on Fridays. We had pizza the one day, and we invited two guys from other crafts that we were working with to eat with us, and they sat at our table. The one guy farted while we were eating. HUUUUUGE no-no. I cussed him out immediately (which swearing at the table is not permitted, but under such circumstances and the way I did it, the colorful language, it was permissible, though it did raise a few eyebrows). He was three weeks living that down.

                But just walking around saying, “Well, what are you going to do about passing gas at the dinner table!” all the time, when no one present has done so, would be a bit odd, to say the least.Report

          • John Howard Griffin in reply to Jaybird says:

            I think that white people should have more black friends. Share meals with each other.

            It’s interesting that you say this. I am reminded of my answer to your “cafeteria seating problem” in another post, and your response to it (basically, how do you make it happen, how do you enforce it). I’m left at the same point here. How do you make it happen/enforce it, if you’re not going to use any type of coercion? FWIW, I agree with you that this is the solution, but don’t see this happening much on its own.

            Coach Boone had a lot of success in this area. Almost all of it started with authoritarian coercion, until it could survive on its own. I don’t want to have a whole conversation about coercion and government, but want to point out that getting people of different backgrounds/races/genders/sexual orientations/religions to get to know each other is the core of the solution and that doesn’t happen much without coercion. Very few people seek it out on their own.Report

            • Patrick Cahalan in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

              I don’t know that you can make it happen, at least not for adults.  It requires a certain level of epiphany that pretty much has to be internal or it turns the other way.Report

            • Like Parker said, “busing”.

              I’m pretty sure that, eventually, the jocks will sit with the jocks, the nerds with the nerds, the burners with the burners, and the pretty people with the pretty people.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jaybird says:

                Kids are easier.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Jaybird says:

                Yeah, I think busing is a good idea under the extremes.
                I like the idea of a school being one of the anchor social institutions of a neighborhood, and I’m generally opposed to busing.
                But under certain extremes, when the schools are too homogenous, enforcing diversification seems to be the optimal strategy.
                And Little League.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Will H. says:

                Wouldn’t it be nice if churches played a leading role in that?

                The church I grew up in is not explicitly racist at all.  They even rented out space to a minority congregation from a different denomination. But as the neighborhood it was located in got blacker and blacker the congregation got more and more nervous. A few years back they sold their building to the minority congregation and bought a plot of land on the outskirts of the city.  There was never any serious discussion, so far as I know, about trying to bring the neighbors into the church.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to James Hanley says:

                … and that’s a pretty good example for where we are.

                Which is sad, in a way, but it beats where we were 20 years ago and 20 years from now things will probably be a bit better.  Would that this could hurry along somewhat.Report

  17. Jay, this was really perfect. Thoughtful, humble, empathetic, compassionate. That’s the Big Four right there. We butt heads over race pretty much every time it comes up, but I just want to say that I think you did a fantastic job here.Report

  18. Rufus F. says:

    I’m trying to remember ever having the talk with my parents and, no, I don’t think I got it. They might have figured I knew it anyway and, indeed, I’ve always been pretty obsequious with cops and other authority figures with guns. As for having to be better at whatever I did, they always assumed I’d be doing something pretty menial for a living, which was supposed to be the norm for “people like us”. I remember expressing an interest in writing and scholarship and my father suggesting I get a janitorial position at a newspaper because, if I did a really good job, maybe I’d get a chance to submit something someday. I think they were pretty surprised when I started taking college courses and actually doing well.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to Rufus F. says:

      Also, I agree with everyone that this is a really good post, but I’m not sure it’s because of your moral courage in addressing racism or whatever- I just think it makes for good and interesting writing to interview people with a different perspective about what makes them tick.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Rufus F. says:

        Most of me feels like “What? I talked to one of my friends.”Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

          One of the things I wanted to leave as the first comment was how, insofar as this essay is prescriptive, it’s an essay written by a white male, for white males, and then make a joke about the vast majority of regulars here but I thought about our female commenters and our commenters of color and I couldn’t think of a joke that I felt safe making about that (that is a joke I could have made without maybe marginalizing them).

          So there’s a joke I didn’t tell, and why. But I thought about it.Report

        • John Howard Griffin in reply to Jaybird says:

          Interestingly, this is exactly how I feel.Report

          • I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, though. Given a.) that this blog is clearly overwhelmingly white, and b.) the “quality” of the discussions on racism here of late, a conversation with a friend is refreshing. I know that’s not a particularly high bar, but hey, it’s an improvement.Report

    • North in reply to Rufus F. says:

      Ditto, I never had the talk. But then I was raised in eastern Canada so it’s extremely white and extremely Canadian.Report

      • Chris in reply to North says:

        In Canada, the talk is about Mounties, right?

        Also, I think it would be possible to give the talk in America like this, “Try, in all things, to be as polite as a Canadian. Except don’t speak with that silly accent when you do it, because no matter how polite you are, that accent will really annoy other Americans.”Report

        • James Hanley in reply to Chris says:

          “In Canada, the talk is about aboot Mounties, right eh?


          (And please forgive me, North.)Report

          • North in reply to James Hanley says:

            You’re both forgiven, though you’ll be shocked to learn that Eastern Canadians don’t say “Eh” that’s an Ontarian thing. Though we have our own… unique… regional dialects (speaking with people from Newfoundland can be quite an experience my pretty bit o’ cod).Report

            • James Hanley in reply to North says:

              Wait, you mean there’s diversity in  Canada?  Sorry, we Americans may be less worldly and sophisticated than our Northern cousins, but we’re not naive enough to be that easily fooled.Report

            • Mike Schilling in reply to North says:

              Awhile ago, when I was working in Vermont, I drove up to Montreal to spend the day.  Beautiful city, but a horrible place to drive in the winter (think San Francisco, but the hills are covered in snow and ice.)  I met a couple from Newfoundland who, well, I don’t like to feed stereotypes, but if they were Jewish, they would have been from Chelm.Report

              • North in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                The Newfies (as we affectionately call them) have many social perculiarities, their patios being but one of them. Their fondness for odd names for their communities is another. They’re also notoriously gregarious, hospitable and enormously friendly.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to North says:


              • North in reply to James Hanley says:

                A pox on my dyslexic fingers and damn your clever grammatical hide Hanley! Patois! Patois! Curses, foiled again!Report

              • James Hanley in reply to North says:

                Oh, no, I didn’t spot an error. I truly thought you meant patios and was trying to figure out what type of patio-culture Newfies could have that would be so distinctive–like sleeping in hammocks all through the winter, or having contests to see who could decorate them in the most lavish manner.

                (Unfortunately, truth rarely is as strange as fiction.)Report

            • Maribou in reply to North says:


              People in MY part of eastern Canada (PEI) say “eh” all the time, and have done pretty much since they stopped with the Gaelic (so, uh, 40 years ago maybe). They don’t say “aboot” though. It’s aboat where I”m from.Report

  19. Kimmi says:

    I had the Talk. Or something like it. It was hysterical (and not in an “i’m laughing” sort of way).

    I ignored it as much as possible.

    I never said I had good parents.Report

  20. Michael Drew says:

    I echo the many other commenters: this is deeply thoughtful piece. Kudos, Jaybird.

    I do have a couple questions.

    1) I’d be curious to know whether the coworker agrees that a) The Talk, by dint of this thread or the broader conversation about Derbyshire, is now suddenly something that all right-thinking parents have with ther kids, not a particular cultural practice of African-American families (which is not to say that such talks do not in fact take place in households of all kinds, but is just simply an observation of what the capitlaized term itself was understood to denote heretofore)?  Have we really all had The Talk (if our parents weren’t stupid hueros), or have we just had something kind of like The Talk, while the real The Talk remains strictly a minority-family, if not specifically African-American-family, thing?

    And 2) I wonder whether he shares the view that the desired societal endstate with respect to The Talk is one in which it is first made race-neutral and then abandoned — is that actually desirable, and is it advisable for African-American families to take steps in that direction when the history of racial (social, really) progress shows that it is halting, reversible, and difficult to confirm?  Given our history, can we ever be sure we’ve reached a state where it is safe and advisable for African-American to stop giving The Talk, or to make it entirely race-neutral?  And if we know we can’t ever be sure of that, is it perhaps better not to hold that as a goal (which doesn’t foreclose the possibility that it could come to pass nevertheless)?  And even if we could be assured at some point that such progress had been achieved, even then would it be desirable to move on from The Talk (understood as “Parker” has explained – varying in form from family to family), or is The Talk a cultural practice that is worth preserving for its own sake, even if it becomes less strictly connected to survival?Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Michael Drew says:

      I’ve asked him your questions and here’s what he said:

      1) The issue is one of nuance. Of course all parents talk to their kids and try to guide them, the difference is that, quite frankly, if you’re a black male then the world can be a much more dangerous place. Certainly, there’s unfairness all around, it’s just that black males need to be warned about more unfairness.

      2) He said that if we ever get to the point of a race-neutral talk, it’s because we’d all be walking around with more or less the same hue (and then we can make jokes about the blue eyes that sometimes pop up unexpectedly).Report

  21. BlaiseP says:

    Quite a piece of writing, Mr. Jaybird, sir.   My compliments.   I’m especially impressed with the spirit of humility in which it was written.   Taking it back to Parker for a check, now that’s where you did well.

    We’re all mysteries to each other, often enough to ourselves.   There’s no shame and very considerable virtue in approaching someone and saying “Here’s the deal:  I don’t know anything about your situation.   Worse, all I have is someone else’s troublesome article and even worse, a few half-baked notions of my own I’m pretty sure are wrong.   Won’t you be good enough to tell me the truth, from your perspective?”

    I’m sick of tiptoeing around the problem of race relations in this country.   One phrase just annoys me every time I hear it, “I’ve got friends who are black.”   It’s usually uttered by someone who really does have black friends.   But once that phrase comes out, the speaker is always attacked and inevitably, unfairly.    My family has a longer relationship with Martin Luther King than Jesse Jackson, going back to MLK Senior and Ebenezer Baptist.   I’m a member of the NAACP, yes, they do let white people join if the Congressional Black Caucus does not.   None of this gives me any insight into the life of a black man in Baton Rouge or Louisville or New York City.   That’s an ontological problem I leave to the philosophers and sociologists.  If the color line is ever to be erased, it be scuffed out when people of good will cross that line with their own two feet.   Race is a pernicious concept and ought to be abolished outright.

    For all our good will and efforts to see each other, black and white and hispano and gay and mixed-race creatures such as my own children, as long as these viciously stupid distinctions exist, those distinctions will continue to trouble mankind.   If our search for enlightenment and identity is to mean anything, if faith or reason or science or whatever guides our search is to produce any results, it must be to this end:  the happy realization that we are not alone.  There is no Us and Them.   There is only We.   He who cannot see himself in his fellow man, he who cannot share in another’s sufferings and joys is a lost soul.    All this is so obvious it should not need saying.

    Ralph Ellison writes in Invisible Man:

    On his deathbed he called my father to him and said, “Son, after I’m gone I want you to keep up the good fight. I never told you, but our life is a war and I have been a traitor all my born days, a spy in the enemy’s country ever since I give up my gun back in the Reconstruction. Live with your head in the lion’s mouth. I want you to overcome ’em with yeses, undermine ’em with grins, agree ’em to death and destruction, let ’em swoller you till they vomit or bust wide open.”

    There is another way.   Everyone, black and white and whatever you call yourself, should follow Mr. Jaybird’s excellent example and ask someone outside your own self-group a few humble questions about what it’s like to be part of the other group.   Deny their other-ness, we really are in this together.   The sooner those chalk lines of racism are scuffed out  by the shoes of honest folks, the better.   God speed the plow that tears down the hedges of divisions between us.Report

    • Will H. in reply to BlaiseP says:

      A lot of good stuff in that.Report

    • Roger in reply to BlaiseP says:

      Great work Jaybird,

      I would like advice from the League…

      I am a white man proudly acting as father figure to a ten year old mixed race (black/Hispanic) grandson. It will soon be time for the talk.

      My thought was that I would explain that humans are often small minded and tribal and that though we must try to rise above this, that we are sure to face some others that don’t. I want to acknowledge human weakness without subscribing to it.

      Is this the proper approach? Other suggestions?Report

      • Will H. in reply to Roger says:

        From what I’ve seen of the things you have written, I’m sure you will do well.
        It’s natural to experience some anxiety and self-doubt. Let those things sharpen you.
        I think you’re on the right track.
        I would throw something in about we are a small portion on a grand trajectory of history, and times will inevitably change.
        And don’t rush things. Kids are often smarter than we think.
        Most bi-racial people I know (self included) have struggled with some form of identity crisis at some point in their lives, and they inevitably grow to reject race-based identity; as in I’m not this, and I’m not that, and I’m not really in-between either, but something completely different.
        Good luck with that.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Roger says:

        Dude, this is one of the things where we’d need a guest post or fifty.

        I suppose we’d need to start by asking “what part of the country are you in?”… and from there get info about the kid. Does he hang out with the D&D kids or the football kids or what?

        Of course, if these questions have answers that you’d consider too private to share (and nobody’d blame you if you thought they were), I’d just say begin with “Don’t Be Stupid”. That seemed to work here.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to Roger says:

        Can’t speak to what’s going on with ten year olds these days.    I can tell you about the 80s and 90s though when I gave my kids The Talk.

        We’d always insisted on our kids speaking Spanish.   I said it would be a lasting embarrassment to raise kids who couldn’t speak to their own grandparents.   I learned Spanish, sent the kids back and forth to Guatemala, made sure they knew what was going on down there.   They had plenty of friends from many backgrounds, outright black/white/hispano prejudice wasn’t the problem it was in my times back in the 60s.   But then, I was in Africa for a lot of that, so tribalism was the big deal for me, personally.

        Once we’d moved to the Big House, my kids started having parties at the house.   When the word “nigger” started getting tossed around, I said I didn’t like the word.   The black kids said it their parents hated it too, but it was just an in-word, no harm done, their generation didn’t have the problems with race we’d had.   They actually sympathised with me, a white guy married to a hispano woman, asked me how we dealt with the issue.

        I simply pointed out the whole idea of race was silly, that my kids spoke Spanish in Guatemala and English in the States, that respect for differences was important enough but self-identifying with racial constructs was a bad idea.   I pointed out what I felt coming back from Africa, seeing American black people and my little brother whispering to me “They’re not black enough to be Africans.   What tribe are they from?”   They found that horribly amusing, one poked the other, who was clearly lighter than the other kids, “Nigga, you ain’t black enough.”   I said “Ain’t none of you black enough to be African.  And don’t put any stock in this Back to Africa crap, you’d be treated as bature white Europeans over there, because you don’t have a tribal identity.   The Africans sort out Arabs and Europeans into the same pile.  You’re American and thank God for that fact.”Report

      • Kimmi in reply to Roger says:

        Sounds good. Don’t be afraid to tell him “I may be getting some of this wrong.”Report

      • Roger in reply to Roger says:

        Thanks Will, Blaise, Kimmi and JB,

        It is encouraging to hear how you were able to escort your loved ones above a race based identity.

        JB, he lives in an overwhelmingly Hispanic neighborhood in the greater Chicago burbs, but attends a magnet school and wants to be an astrophysicist. So he is more the intellectual type.

        Being completely multiracial meant that he had exposure to loved ones of all types at the earliest age. I just don’t know how much damage peer pressure can do when they get at that “identity” stage.Report

        • BlaiseP in reply to Roger says:

          Surprisingly little damage can be done to a child if he’s got a good support structure.   One of my family’s favourite songs is David Bowie’s Fashion.   When the kids were little, they would form a little line and dance to it.

          There’s a brand new dance
          but I don’t know its name
          That people from bad homes
          do again and again
          It’s big and it’s bland
          full of tension and fear
          They do it over there but we don’t do it here

          Ours was a very strange home, a sort of pirate haven.   Maybe it was just a reaction to the authoritarian madness of my own upbringing.   Told my kids the trick to staying on top of the social hierarchy is to be the trendsetter, not a follower.    Don’t hang with any one group or they’ll start telling you who to be.  Drew three aces with those kids and raised a fine crop of monsters.Report

  22. DensityDuck says:

    Gotta love this.  “OMG Derbyshire is so totally racist, there’s no way this is something that’s for real!”  (talks to an actual black person)  “um, wait, you mean that The Talk is an actual thing that you guys actually do?  And that I just totally made an assumption about black culture based solely on my own prejudices?  d’oh.”Report

    • Jason Kuznicki in reply to DensityDuck says:

      The claim that Derbyshire is a racist has nothing to do with his awareness of, or his talking about, The Talk.

      It has everything to do with the phony white version of The Talk that he cooked up in response.

      I was well aware of The (real) Talk for for some time before this whole little controversy.  Perhaps that’s because I pay very close attention to civil liberties issues and to the ways in which police often do, in fact, treat blacks and whites quite differently. If you read about this stuff, you will sooner or later encounter a mention of The Talk, because it’s a real thing, and because it’s in response to another real thing.

      In a world like ours, The (real) Talk is a sad necessity.  Pointing out its existence to white people is potentially a good thing, because it may raise awareness about a very harmful kind of differential treatment that still exists.

      None of which excuses Derbyshire’s disgusting screed.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        “I was well aware of The (real) Talk for for some time before this whole little controversy.”

        Great for you.  Jaybird wasn’t.  Neither were quite a few other people.  Which says more than Derbyshire’s ham-fisted attempt at satire does.Report

        • Jason Kuznicki in reply to DensityDuck says:

          “Says more” in what sense?

          I suppose it says more about the state of white people’s knowledge of black life in America.  (To be fair, I can’t call myself an expert here.  As I said, I learned about it incidentally from stuff at work.)

          But does it “say more” about the contents of Derbyshire’s mind?  Hardly.  The relevant bits in this case were already out there, starting with his confession several years ago to being a “mild, tolerant racist.”Report

        • Patrick Cahalan in reply to DensityDuck says:

          Jaybird’s not a parent.  I daresay if he had a pair of kids, one of whom is growing like a weed, he’d have “Things to Tell The Children” in his awareness bucket somewhere.


    • Tod Kelly in reply to DensityDuck says:

      Gotta love this. “OMG Derbyshire is so totally racist, there’s no way this is something that’s for real!” (talks to an actual black person) “um, wait, you mean that The Talk is an actual thing that you guys actually do? And that I just totally made an assumption about black culture based solely on my own prejudices? d’oh.”

      This is an excellent point! Because I so remember that what everyone objected to was Derbyshire’s belief that black people talked to their children, and had nothing to do whatsoever about what he himself said about black people.

      I bet that Lowry guy has egg on his face!Report

  23. Patrick Cahalan says:

    “No, if there was an overarching theme, it was Don’t Be Stupid.”

    This is my Dad’s talk.  Although, like Parker, my Dad didn’t sit me down and give me The Talk.  He just switched to A Voice every once in a while and it was clear that it was supposed to be the I Am Imparting My Own Very Limited Wisdom voice.Report

    • It’s interesting that although the context is different, whenever I hear any of the content of The Talk I find myself saying, “Hey, I had that talk with my dad.”Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        As I said upthread, few parent don’t attempt tp impart on their children the ways of the world. The adult’s sense of the ways of the world are largely informed by a myriad of “demographic” factors, including but not limited to race, gender, class, geography, faith, time period, personal experiences, sexual orientation, etc. Likewise, the world that the child will be finding his/her way through with also vary based on these factors. A mother talks to a girl about the ways of the sexual world differently than a father would and both of those are different from how they would talk to their son.

        It is called parenting. Are we really going to besmirch black parents for passing on to their children potenial realities of the world? I have a parent in my class who grew up in war torn Bosnia. She tells her children (both very young girls) about the horrors of the world in a way that most ofus can’t imagine. I do think, at times, she goes too far with TMI, but that has more to do with the age of the girls and their undertanding of what the mom is telling them. The fact is, that mother’s reality is different than most and has shaped her worldview. She has seen things I can’t imagine. She wants to prepare her children for the world. Are we really going to begrudge her that because her very real experience is less-than-universal? Again, its called parenting. Would you rather parents not do it?Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        The difference, I think, is between:

        “You should be polite to police officers and never give authority figures reason a reason to target you, as that will maximize the chances that you will avoid being targeted minimize the chances that you will find yourself in an unnecessary confrontation.”


        “You should be polite to police officers and never give authority figures reason a reason to target you because many  will be targeting you with prejudice to begin with, waiting for you to step out of line, and wanting you to step out of line because it will vindicate the initial prejudice.”

        That last part doesn’t apply to us, for the most part.Report

  24. Camren Fyfe says:

    I really like and appreciate your blog article. Keep writing.Report

  25. Moxnox says:

    White lawn jockeys in a drum circle…Report

  26. Moxnox says:

    …dreaming of the perfect squelch.Report

  27. Jaybird says:

    Apparently, we were Five Feeted Of Fury again.

    She called me a “beta male“. Oh, there was stuff after that that REALLY got into “I don’t know that a conversation on this topic is really possible” territory before finishing up talking about the book Fifty Shades of Grey.

    Anyway, that’s where I suspect Moxnox came from.Report

    • Kimmi in reply to Jaybird says:

      she has no definition of what a beta male is like, I take it?

      I don’t know you too well, but I am rather doubting you’re a beta.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

      “Alpha males wear leather. They get laid more than we do, because they’re so fishing macho. I’m really awfully glad I’m a Beta, because I only have sex with women I care about.  And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are dweebs. They all wear glasses, and Delta males wear pocket protectors. Oh no, I don’t want to hang out with Delta males. And Epsilons are still worse.”Report

    • North in reply to Jaybird says:

      I’m so confused… Moxnox? Kathy Shaidle? I know this should be familiar to me but it’s not. What little I remember about her was something about mansplaining and feminism run amok? Isn’t this new post like the opposite of that?

       Wait and she’s calling you a beta male? Dude, if you weren’t already seeing Maribou I’d suggest you ask her out on a date!


      • Jonathan McLeod in reply to North says:

        North, you might remember Kathy Shaidle because she became (somewhat) a free speech martyr along with Ezra Levant back around the time Maclean’s was pulled in front of an HRC for printing excerpts of Mark Steyn’s ‘America Alone’ (I think Shaidle has also had complaints against her). I think Shaidle is married to Arnie from Small Dead Animals (though I could really be mixing things up with that). They tend to go for one-two punches on a lot of topics, usually dealing with Muslims (they’re not fans) and sometimes with insufficiently-manly guys (though Arnie has been known to hide behind a cop now and then – he likes to antagonize Muslim familes and then videotape them getting angry with him. When things get too hot, he looks for Johnny Law. Class act.).

        By the way, Jaybird, I’m quite jealous that Shaidle called you out. I’ve never had the pleasure (though other blog-mates have, the closest I’ve come is this).Report

        • Sorry, my bad. It’s Kate from Small Dead Animals who is (again, I think) married to Arnie from Blazing Cat Fur. I had a hard time keeping all these hate machines separate. They tend to parrot each other.Report

        • Dude, this is the second time she’s called me out! Both times involved disbelief that people “really talk like this”.

          For what it’s worth, in real life? Every other word is the F-bomb.Report

          • Will H. in reply to Jaybird says:

            I think it’s funny.
            But that’s just me.

            Not everyone was put in this world for you to get along with.
            I don’t know how to explain it to you any better.

            If you want to accept your views as valid, then you have to accept hers as valid too.
            Doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. It’s just that those views are what’s right for her.
            I prefer to think of it as ‘adjusted for temperament.’

            I have my own ideas as to why she would be amazed that people would talk like this.
            It’s all that self-perpetuating truths thing; loss of elasticity.
            That thing about convictions being a greater enemy to truth than lies.
            I had a gf a long time ago that seemed to run on stereotypes, and often the worst possible ones from the range of selection. Of course, those stereotypes could be rejected in the most indifferent-to-glaring-reality type of way, if there was something that she really wanted.
            The real problem with that isn’t the stereotypes so much, although that can be annoying.
            The problem with it is that it never really exposes the depth of people to such persons.
            There is a much more rich reality lying just under the surface.
            I suppose superficiality must have its benefits, or so many would not attain to it.
            I just don’t understand the payoff; that’s all.

            But I think the whole thing is funny.
            I’m still giggling.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Jaybird says:

      For someone who complains as much as she does about men not being masculine enough, she doesn’t strike me as particularly feminine.Report

    • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Jaybird says:

      Wow, that post left my head spinning.

      So what should the alpha white males do?  Avoid black people?  Or talk to them, but only to tell them how dumb they are?

      Or do we await her further instructions, which seem to involve some stuff with whips and slapping her around?

      I never did care for bossy bottoms.Report

    • Nob Akimoto in reply to Jaybird says:

      No one ever writes crazy stuff about me…slightly jealous.Report

    • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jaybird says:

      That site has got to be long running performance art.Report

    • Jeff Wong in reply to Jaybird says:

      Actually, I kind of had similar feelings. Your talk with your friend had a bit of namby-pamby liberal zing to it. Part of it is a conservative/libertarian dislike of activism on behalf of other people. Especially when you mentioned bussing. It sounded like how every liberal’s solution to social problem X is “More education”. It sounds trite because it sounds so specific, as if that would solve the problem.

      Of course, now we’re getting into mental schemas and conceptual models that the reader is bringing to a reading. Communication is impossible without some assumptions and communication is inherently imperfect.

      I didn’t bring it up, but it came up anyways.

      I think it’s preferable for people to be err on the side of being “sensitive to others,” or as more manly men would put it, “respecting other people’s dignity.”

      She’s a f’n c’t. Thanks to the Internet, we get a glimpse into the everyday inner ugliness inside everyone.Report

      • John Howard Griffin in reply to Jeff Wong says:

        She’s a f’n c’t. Thanks to the Internet, we get a glimpse into the everyday inner ugliness inside everyone.


      • Jaybird in reply to Jeff Wong says:

        Well, now I can get EVEN MORE beta and wonder aloud if the best tools we have against racism really need to include sexist language.Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to Jeff Wong says:

        “Your talk with your friend had a bit of namby-pamby liberal zing to it.”

        With all due respect, if admitting you don’t know about something and asking someone who probably does – as opposed to just assuming that if you don’t already know it then it isn’t worth learning about – strikes you as an inherently “namby-pamby liberal” thing, it does not speak well for today’s conservatism.Report

      • Will H. in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

        If she looks like this every day, I wouldn’t mind poking her myself.
        In fact, I’d be happy to spank her silly. I feel reasonably certain there would be a great deal of mutual enjoyment in that exchange.
        Just sayin’.Report

        • Maribou in reply to Will H. says:

          My new year’s resolution this year was to admit it when people made me uncomfortable with objectifications instead of shrugging it off as I have through years of being “one of the boys” (and almost never actually being uncomfortable).  So.

          That kind of language makes me really uncomfortable, even when applied to someone as comfortable with making jokes about my own sex life as Ms. Shaidle apparently is. I know she did it first, but as the target of her assumptions, hearing them turned back on her really didn’t make me feel any better about things.

          Not telling you how to live. Just sayin’. Because I’ve been trying to stop not saying.Report

          • Will H. in reply to Maribou says:

            I can respect that.
            And it’s not that I disagree. It’s that I truly don’t care.
            First, I see a distinct difference between a specific woman and “women.”
            Secondly, when statements as to physical appeal amount to objectification, then objectification just made it to my list of “Things I Am Completely Unconcerned About.”
            I’m not even going to attempt to justify physical appeal between the sexes.
            Now, any surplus of observations, such as the one above, which could be re-stated, “If she wants it like that, I could go there,” I see as something more along the lines of “Physical Appeal +.”

            I respect your feelings on the matter.
            And I feel certain that you have legitimate reasons for your resolution.
            But I see all attempts to separate and intellectualize the animal portion of the human as ill-fated.
            Some of us are very attractive, and others, not so much.
            Rationalizing about it is not the solution, IMHO.Report

    • Fish in reply to Jaybird says:

      The proper response to being called a “beta male”?

      “Thank you.”

      (Great post, btw)Report

  28. Moxnox says:

    If I had a mean bone in my body, I’d say the lot of you sound like a flock of lambda males.

    But I don’t, so I won’t.

    And please accept my abject apologies for my earlier squib. Who knew that a little gentle badinage would prove so hurtful?


    • BlaiseP in reply to Moxnox says:

      If ever there was an un-knocked-over lawn jockey on the lawn or a mirthful Negro to knock it over for the mighty lulz such a knocking-over might engender in his savage little mind, you might be that lawn jockey.   Alas that nobody gave you a drum.Report

    • John Howard Griffin in reply to Moxnox says:

      My wife asked me the other day about why men tend to use words like “douche” as an epithet for other men. She was wondering why men had such an obsession with feminine hygiene products.

      I said I didn’t know (I don’t use the term myself). But, I suggested that it was a way of saying “you are such a poor excuse for a man that the closest you will ever get to having sex is being a small plastic nozzle inserted in a woman’s ‘vajayjay’ [trying to bypass any filtering by using that euphamism instead of a more correct word]”. She found that very funny (as did I). We had a good laugh over a glass of wine about the ways that men try to prove their manhood, or, at least, diminish the manhood of other men to make them feel better about themselves. We ended up agreeing that many men don’t really make it past Junior High in their development.

      I don’t know why your comment reminded me of that conversation.Report

      • Moxnox in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

        Ah, at last a squelch, but alas, not the perfect one.

        I’m happy that you have all ceased squealing about trolls. And while I’m glad that you and your fellow gentlemen have begun to return fire, I’m a bit disappointed that your ammunition seems to come only from your collective psychosexual armamentarium–and mostly schoolyard and locker room gibes at that–so that your ripostes so far have been as innocuous as they are irrelevant.

        Nonetheless, I’m glad that you didn’t refer to me as an “f’n c’t,” as you did that woman in Canada. It’s nice to think that at least there’s a vestige of civilty toward dissenters (some of them, anyway) in your gentlemen’s club.


        • Jeff Wong in reply to Moxnox says:

          Well, for Ms. Shaidle’s part, if she’s getting to the level of saying that people who overcome their natural inclinations to be racist and calling these men “lesser-men”, she’s doesn’t really deserve of some high-minded jab. I did look into her background some more out of curiosity, so it wasn’t completely reflexive. Besides, taking this person seriously enough would probably delight her. So it’s more fair to just stick her for what she is on the most basic level.

          Is that insult really that innocuous? You said yourself you were glad we didn’t refer to you in the same way (though I thought for a while you were Shaidle). Personally, it wouldn’t bother me and the literal male equivalent wouldn’t bother me either. But really, I was just expressing what I thought of this person at that moment.

          I’m not as well read as Mr Blaise is, but psychosexual armaments are just one category of ways of demeaning others. Base insults work pretty universally since sexual functions are pretty universal, as are eating, pooping, and combinations thereof. Existential insults don’t make sense without knowing more about the person.Report

        • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Moxnox says:

          Trolls trolls trolls trolls trolls.  Nya nya nya nya.  And vajayjays too.

          See, here’s the thing.  You showed up and didn’t argue anything.  You called some names and dissed some folks and that was all.

          We’d happily argue with you, believe me.  But that would require assertions, and inferences, and evidence and stuff.

          As a second choice, we’ll almost as happily throw psychosexualized insults at you.  Honestly, it seemed more like what you were into anyway.Report

        • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Moxnox says:

          I looked up “squelch” in Urban Dictionary.  I giggled, briefly.Report

        • John Howard Griffin in reply to Moxnox says:

          Nonetheless, I’m glad that you didn’t refer to me as an “f’n c’t,” as you did that woman in Canada.

          If you’ll notice, I was the one who called out the person who wrote that as someone showing their inner ugliness, not the one who referred to anyone using that term.

          QED is Latin.  It means Quod Erat Demonstrandum.  It means “which was to be demonstrated” or, more simply, “it has been proved”.  Just in case you have struggled with what my comment meant.

          Let’s get to the point here:  do you have anything to say except that everyone here is bad and wrong and immature and not really a man, and that you are good and correct and more mature and stronger?  Cause if that’s all you have to say, you can stop.  I think everyone understands your simple message.

          If you have something else to say, then please say it.  Or, continue repeating yourself as you wish.Report

          • Moxnox in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

            Ego te absolvo, JHG. One does need to write with exaggerated care in this age of iron taboo, but you are right to insist that I, at least, should have read more carefully. As for your other rubbish is unworthy of comment from me, and I suspect you know that.

            Much more ado from the Gentlemen, over nothing, they say.

            Do you get it that your little club of self-congratulatory white liberals could pass for lilywhite? (Perhaps with an occasional Asian.) You’ve spent days flagellating John Derbyshire, and on occasion yourselves, for succumbing here and there to the wiles of Ole Debbil Racism—all without a single word from an African-American, so far as I can tell. Unless you’re doing double duty, Mr. Carlson. Or you’re actually going to fetch that mirthful Negro, Marse Blaise.

            In any case, I was glad to have been able to energize some of the many Stuart Smalleys among you to desist from their “antiracist” navel-gazing and, after an (understandable) initial panic, to form, rank on rank, to drive out the intruder–and no troop of howler monkeys in full throat ever comported itself more vigorously.

            Sadly (for me, at least), my work here is done. I didn’t come to proselytize: a barracuda among minnows wins no souls (hmmm… is that Paul?). Anyway, it’s on to mackerel!

            Thank you all for sharing your crotchets and your pedantries; I’m glad to have evidently enlivened the fantasies of some of you.  Sorry if I’ve inadvertently wounded anyone of thin skin or tender soul… but a duel is depicted on your “Commenting Policy” page, no?

            Nun, ade!Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Moxnox says:

              You’ve spent days flagellating John Derbyshire, and on occasion yourselves, for succumbing here and there to the wiles of Ole Debbil Racism—all without a single word from an African-American, so far as I can tell.

              That’s what this essay was, among other things, intended to be.

              Golly, that’s irritating.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Jaybird says:

                Most enlightening would be to learn what “Parker” would think of all this.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                He was stuck in meetings and the lab all day Thursday and I was sick on Friday (and if that coughing fit is any indication, will be on Monday as well).

                I don’t want to bug him at home (though was tempted to). I’ll talk to him Tuesday (or, health permitting, Monday).Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Jaybird says:

                JB, you intend to ask him to read this essay and the comments, then?  If so, I await the results with unbridled curiosity: I assume doesn’t have a degree in a field that ends with “Studies,” and when he hears the word “theory,” thinks Einstein or Darwin, and not “critical.”

                You know, a normal person.  😉Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                He’s already read the essay and, I believe, read the comments back when there were only a mere 30 or so. We just haven’t had time to carve out 5-10 minutes to discuss it since. (His degree is in computer science, I believe. He’s in IT, like me.)

                In political conversations, he’s a fairly straightforward liberal democrat which, in Colorado Springs, makes him a member of the minority. He’s capable of arguing against me and using arguments that one would expect to be used against Libertarians as opposed to some of the straightforward liberal democrats with whom I also work who argue against me as if I watched Fox News and voted for Republicans. (e.g., if I complain about Obama doing X, Parker is capable of saying something other than “Bush did X.”)Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                He was surprised by how cerebral our conversation was and how it completely lacked the visceral fighting he expected to see.

                He (correctly) guessed that we’re all essayists in our own right.

                He also said that he expected more comments qua comments and fewer conversations.Report

            • John Howard Griffin in reply to Moxnox says:

              In alio peduclum vides, in te ricinum non vides.

              Tam autem eras excors, ut tota in oratione tua tecum ipse pugnares, non modo non cohaerentia inter se deceres, sed maxime disiunsta atque contraria, ut non tanta mecum quanta tibi tecum esset contentio.

              Odiosus mihis.  Lingua factiosi, inertes opera.  Longos imitaris.  Haeres nequiquam caeno cupiens evellere plantam.

              Non amo te, Moxnox, nec possum dicere quare: hoc tantum possume dicere, non amo te.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to John Howard Griffin says:

                Non amo te, Moxnox, nec possum dicere quare: hoc tantum possume dicere, non amo te.

                Epic Fell.Report

              • John Howard Griffin in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Haha. My spellcheck doesn’t correct Latin very well.

                Sum ‘Pincerna’ nominatus
                Famulari nunc paratus!

                Est Pincerna submolestus,
                Nec decorus, nec modestus.

                Daps placebit hodierna!
                Virent ova! Viret perna!

                Dapem tuam vix prohabo.
                Tuos cibos non gustabo.

                Non mi placent, O Pincerna.
                Virent ova! Viret perna!

                Sum ‘Pincerna’ nominatus, Famulari … nunc paratus!Report

    • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Moxnox says:

      Truly, you presume too much.

      I always find it cute when people think I’m supposed to play by their alpha/beta male rules.  And lambda male?  Well, those are the hottest kind.Report

      • Will H. in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        I think ascribing that whole pecking order thing to humans is misplaced anyway.
        Humans are more fluid, fulfilling many different roles at various times.
        And secondly, I believe these archetypes are constructs; that no real-world archetypes exist, but rather, they are an (imprecise) ordering of the mind.
        How many different roles do you observe within one day?
        You are free to alter the character of any of those roles at any given time.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Moxnox says:

      Why is it that whenever someone drives by to declare that he is The Only Alpha Male round these parts, it’s always someone who’s too much of a puss to speak using their real name?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        In defense of pseudonymity, I’d like to say that the failure to engage is the thing that bugs me.Report

        • Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird says:

          Oh, I don’t know that online pseudonymity needs a defense.  For just about everyone on this site , when I see pseudonyms I think: that must be their nickname in flesh life… or it’s the nickname they’d like to have in real life…  or “If my boss ever saw this it might make things complicated” … or even just “I really don’t need for other people to know who I really am.”  And those are all cool.

          But there’s something different for me about the type of guy that shows up and declares himself The Only Alpha among us ladies – the “I take what I want and I’ll say what ever politically incorrect thing I want to say & I don’t care who doesn’t like it because I could kick everyone of your asses” guy, if you will.  There’s something about that guy using a pseudonym that comes across to me as saying, “If mom ever finds out I’ve been saying these things on line she’s gonna kick me out for sure!”

          Is that this guy’s story?  Probably not.  It just comes across that way.Report

      • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Weird.  I hadn’t quite settled on a gender for this individual, but I was leaning female.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Moxnox says:

       flock of lambda males.

      That gave us some closure.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to Moxnox says:

      Why you be hatin’ Goose, Mr. Moxnox?Report

    • Kolohe in reply to Moxnox says:

      Oh, by the way, ‘flock’? I think it should be a “drunkenship” of lambda males.Report

  29. Moxnox says:

    Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, eh, Blaise?Report