John Derbyshire, a lovely little name that conjures images of evening strolls along a village green in some small town outside London – that is, until the turd hit the fan on April 5.
That’s when Señor Derbyshire published his now-infamous “Talk,” an imaginary discussion with his kids about the dos and don’ts of living as a white person sharing a world with black people. Among his tips – each more bigoted than the last – “Derbs,” as he’s affectionately known at National Review, offers a few gems on cross-cultural survival:
“Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.”
“Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks.”
“If you are at some public event at which the number of blacks suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.”
“If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving.”
The list would be absolutely hysterical if it weren’t so painfully offensive.
Reading through Derbs’ advice, the average Latino may find themselves asking, “Where have I heard this before?” And that’s when it hits them: The article’s comedic twinge comes from the reality that, growing up, many Latinos receive similar warnings from their parents, grandparents and other family members. It’s like a Latino comic doing a bit on the racist old grandmas in the typical Latino family.
There’s long been a deep Latino distrust toward blacks – an entirely cultural invention reinforced by older generations and spread wider than a viral video.
Latinos might experience their first brush with it after inviting their friend DeAndre to their ninth birthday party. Maybe they realize it in the way their parents don’t have any black friends or the way mom pulls them by the arm whenever a black stranger comes walking down the sidewalk. Sometimes they receive it from their aunt or uncle who blurts out something inappropriate about a local black politician.
However it happens, it happens and they know. Black people aren’t like us, and since they’re not like us, they’re unpredictable. So keep your distance.
It’s been suggested that Latino antipathy toward black skin flows from the two groups being in direct competition with one anther – for jobs, decent housing, good schools and the rest. But this explanation requires intermediate steps in order for it to be true. A person would have to, first, identify different races, second, identify the members of a certain race as their competitors, and third, identify all competitors as their mortal enemies.
The competition (or the perception of it) is historical. Blacks didn’t immigrate to the New World to compete with Latinos; they were dragged here in chains to replace our ancestors. The native peoples of the Americas were simply too few and less resilient than the Africans. Blacks and Latinos (along with other minorities) are first tolerated in America as the help – and traditionally remain so.
Blacks and Latinos in America continue to face many of the same obstacles. And until they begin seeing their similarities and realize their involvement in the same struggles, the two are doomed to continue squabbling over scraps.