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Flight from White

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Screenshot 2018-02-11 17.58.51Barstool Sports dug up this 1991 story about Mike Tirico, the NBC sports announcer who has inherited Bob Costas’s job as anchorman of the Olympics:

Hold The Phone – Mike Tirico Isn’t Black?

Post-Standard, The (Syracuse, NY)
May 30, 1991

Local African-American groups often invite him to speak during Black History Month and on other occasions, viewing Tirico as a prominent example of a successful black professional. He doesn’t mind speaking, Tirico tells them, but he also lets them know a fact of his life: He’s not sure he’s black. “When people go around and say, ‘You are black’ – well, I don’t encourage it, but by the same token I don’t back off of it,” he says. “If you want to call me that, that’s fine. But, you know, in my whole family, there’s nobody I know who is black.”

Raised in Queens Michael Todd Tirico grew up in a middle-class Italian family in Queens, about a five-minute drive from Shea Stadium. Tirico’s parents, Donald and Maria, were separated when he was about 4, and he says he has since lost contact with his father’s side of the family.

Tirico is an only child. Because of his dark skin and ethnic features, Tirico says, most people assume he is black. But he’s seen pictures of his father, his father’s mother and his father’s sister – all of whom are white, Tirico says. “The only contact I had growing up was with my mom’s side of the family. And they are all as white as the refrigerator I’m standing in front of right now,” Tirico says … Someday, he says, he plans to do genealogical research to find out if he has a black ancestor, but it’s not something he considers a pressing issue.

It’s easy to come up with theories, like maybe your mom hasn’t been wholly frank about why her husband walked out. Lots of families have secrets. For example, it’s not wholly rare for people of a certain age to find out that their big sister who is 17 or so years older than them is really their mom (e.g., Jack Nicholson, Bobby Darin).

But let’s look at Mike Tirico instead as an example of how rare it is in modern non-Hispanic America for somebody who appears to be kind of black not to claim to be black. I won’t call him “the exception that proves the rule” because that always triggers a lot of people, such as a certain federal judge, who want to explain that, logically, an exception can’t prove a rule. So I will call Tirico an example of somebody whose famous exceptionalness to the general tendency offers support for the tendency.

The tendency is that people who are significantly black by ancestry seldom self-identify as white in recent decades (assuming they aren’t from some culture like Latin America where that is encouraged). This in contradiction to the popular theory of White Privilege.

Some of that is for Flight From White reasons, but another big reason is that there just aren’t that many people in Anglo-America who are kinda, sorta black enough to go either way, due to the workings of the One Drop Rule. As I blogged in 2014:

The 23andMe numbers suggest that for the average white American, 1 of your 512 ancestors nine generations ago was black and 1 of 512 was Native American.

Here’s another way to think of it. If the average self-identified black is 73.2% black and the average self-identified white is 0.19% black, then the average black in America is 385 times blacker than the average white.

A commenter adds:

And here is another way of thinking about it: The average white American is about ten times more Neanderthal than Sub-Saharan black.

Africans have virtually no Neanderthal ancestry so African-American Neanderthal ancestry is, on average, in proportion to their white ancestry.

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Nobody in America has been prouder of their white ancestry than the Hispanic descendants of settlers / conquistadors sent by the King of Spain to what is now New Mexico and southwest Colorado. But even these New Mexico Hispanics are getting into the Flight from White. From the New York Times:

Indian Slavery Once Thrived in New Mexico. Latinos Are Finding Family Ties to It.

ALBUQUERQUE — Lenny Trujillo made a startling discovery when he began researching his descent from one of New Mexico’s pioneering Hispanic families: One of his ancestors was a slave.

One? How many ancestors did he have?

“I didn’t know about New Mexico’s slave trade, so I was just stunned,” said Mr. Trujillo, 66, a retired postal worker who lives in Los Angeles. “Then I discovered how slavery was a defining feature of my family’s history.”

Mr. Trujillo is one of many Latinos who are finding ancestral connections to a flourishing slave trade on the blood-soaked frontier now known as the American Southwest. Their captive forebears were Native Americans — slaves frequently known as Genízaros (pronounced heh-NEE-sah-ros) who were sold to Hispanic families when the region was under Spanish control from the 16th to 19th centuries. Many Indian slaves remained in bondage when Mexico and later the United States governed New Mexico.

The revelations have prompted some painful personal reckonings over identity and heritage. But they have also fueled a larger, politically charged debate on what it means to be Hispanic and Native American.

A growing number of Latinos who have made such discoveries are embracing their indigenous backgrounds, challenging a long tradition in New Mexico in which families prize Spanish ancestry. Some are starting to identify as Genízaros. Historians estimate that Genízaros accounted for as much as one-third of New Mexico’s population of 29,000 in the late 18th century.

“We’re discovering things that complicate the hell out of our history, demanding that we reject the myths we’ve been taught,” said Gregorio Gonzáles, 29, an anthropologist and self-described Genízaro who writes about the legacies of Indian enslavement.

Those legacies were born of a tortuous story of colonial conquest and forced assimilation.

New Mexico, which had the largest number of sedentary Indians north of central Mexico, emerged as a coveted domain for slavers almost as soon as the Spanish began settling here in the 16th century, according to Andrés Reséndez, a historian who details the trade in his 2016 book, “The Other Slavery.” Colonists initially took local Pueblo Indians as slaves, leading to an uprising in 1680 that temporarily pushed the Spanish out of New Mexico.

The trade then evolved to include not just Hispanic traffickers but horse-mounted Comanche and Ute warriors, who raided the settlements of Apache, Kiowa, Jumano, Pawnee and other peoples. They took captives, many of them children plucked from their homes, and sold them at auctions in village plazas.

The Spanish crown tried to prohibit slavery in its colonies, but traffickers often circumvented the ban by labeling their captives in parish records as criados, or servants. The trade endured even decades after the Mexican-American War, when the United States took control of much of the Southwest in the 1840s.

Seeking to strengthen the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in 1865, Congress passed the Peonage Act of 1867 after learning of propertied New Mexicans owning hundreds and perhaps thousands of Indian slaves, mainly Navajo women and children. But scholars say the measure, which specifically targeted New Mexico, did little for many slaves in the territory.

Many Hispanic families in New Mexico have long known that they had indigenous ancestry, even though some here still call themselves “Spanish” to emphasize their Iberian ties and to differentiate themselves from the state’s 23 federally recognized tribes, as well as from Mexican and other Latin American immigrants.

But genetic testing is offering a glimpse into a more complex story. The DNA of Hispanic people from New Mexico is often in the range of 30 to 40 percent Native American, according to Miguel A. Tórrez, 42, a research technologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and one of New Mexico’s most prominent genealogists. …

Pointing to their history, some descendants of Genízaros are coming together to argue that they deserve the same recognition as Native tribes in the United States. One such group in Colorado, the 200-member Genízaro Affiliated Nations, organizes annual dances to commemorate their heritage.

“It’s not about blood quantum or DNA testing for us, since those things can be inaccurate measuring sticks,” said David Atekpatzin Young, 62, the organization’s tribal chairman, who traces his ancestry to Apache and Pueblo peoples. “We know who we are, and what we want is sovereignty and our land back.”

And maybe a casino …

• Tags: Flight from White 
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In 2017, I keep hearing the name Linda Sarsour. But I had never heard of before. Why is she famous now? Well, Linda herself has a good insight into why she’s now the face of pro-Islam feminism (or whatever her gig is):

When I wasn’t wearing hijab I was just some ordinary white girl from New York City.

But now she’s no longer an ordinary white girl, she’s a hijab-wearing Diverse celebrity, so it’s all good.

• Tags: Flight from White 
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From the NYT Op-Ed page:

The Census and Right-Wing Hysteria

Several years ago, the Census Bureau began to predict that the United States would become a majority-minority nation by the 2040s — that African- and Asian-Americans, as well as Latinos, would outnumber non-Hispanic whites. Last year the census underlined its prediction by announcing that non-Hispanic white babies under the age of 1 were already in the minority.

These numbers have become a handy data point for whites fearful that they are being threatened and “overwhelmed” by a growing tide of darker-skinned people. In this way, the census may have unintentionally increased white racism, thereby justifying the longstanding Republican strategy of turning itself into a whites-first party. White fears probably even helped Donald Trump win the 2016 election.

Nonetheless, the “minority-majority” forecast, as it is commonly interpreted, is likely to be proven wrong. Not only could whites remain a majority well past midcentury, but they will retain political, economic and cultural control of the country long after that.

Simply put, the demographers have not taken into account how the perception of race is likely to change in the coming years. For example, whites are already seeing the descendants of some Asian and Latino immigrants as being similar to them.

Actually, during the I Love Lucy era, non-Hispanic whites tended to see Hispanics as more white than they do now. Hispanic elites wanted to be seen as white, and whites accommodated them: for example, the 1950 and 1960 Census didn’t break out Hispanics at all, merely lumping virtually all of them in with whites. It was only with the Civil Rights movement, that the government went back to counting them separately in 1970.

Consequently, whites treat them as white. This “whitening” process will only increase in the future.

Happy 90th birthday to Dr. Gans, but I can’t help but think that he’s missed noticing the modern “Flight from White.” America isn’t like it was when he arrived as refugee from Nazis in 1940 and it was prudent to downplay your diversityness.

Since 1969, the government and the culture hand out affirmative action money and prizes to people who claim to be Diverse, so self-interested persons of mixed descent tend to push hard on claims to the most rewarded identities.

For example, there was the recent case of a Hawaiian-born individual who until his mid-20s was largely thought of by his friends as “just another mixed kid” or “international” or “multicultural.” But he eventually decided to emphasize his black ancestry, writing a 150,000 word memoir about his ties to the African father he barely knew called “Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance.”

And things worked out really well for him. White people loved this guy who was raised by whites and Asians but who claimed to be black on the 2010 Census. They even made him President and then paid him $400,000 per speech.

Not surprisingly, groups that were officially classified as white have been demanding to have the government count them as nonwhite. South Asians got themselves moved from Caucasian to Oriental/Asian in 1982 to make them eligible for minority business development privileges from the government. Arabs have been trying to get themselves declared nonwhite for the 2020 Census. No blue-blooded Conquistador-American group has ever offered to give up their legal minority status just because they take pride in their whiteness.

Politically, things are a little more complicated, however. The basic Democratic strategy is to use immigration to inflate the Coalition of the Fringes and keep them united by focusing hate toward Evil CisHet White Males. The Republicans will be stuck being the White Party in an age when the media demonizes whites (e.g., with constant reporting of hate hoaxes as genuine hate crimes).

But, there is some possibility that blacks will still manage to drive off some Asians and Hispanics from the Democratic Party via bad behavior, megalomania, and feelings of entitlement. The Democrats paid the price in 2016 as blacks couldn’t be bothered to come out in large numbers to vote for a nonblack.

The Democrats may wind up being seen as the Black Party. To a lot of white people, it probably sounds awesome to be loyal to the Black Party, but I suspect a smaller percentage of Hispanics and Asians share those feelings.

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A friend does a little focus-grouping now and then of political language.

He reports that any concern for the rights, interests, or well-being of “whites” strikes respondents as downscale.

The word “white” seems just plain prole.

In contrast, the idea of “European” identity seems kind of classy to the Americans he tries it out upon.


Complaining about anti-white racism just makes you sound like a loser, but complaining about Europhobia sounds pretty scientific and academic. Anti-Europhobia activists have clearly been to college!

But one roadblock to the growth of “European” identity in the U.S. has been that the federal government includes a lot of non-European peoples in its official definition of “white:”

A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.

Jared Taylor has long campaigned in his gentlemanly fashion to nurture a white identify politics to defend the interests of white people the way Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton noncontroversially lead a black identity politics movement. But he has had a slow time getting many to take his concept seriously.

Taylor has adopted classy symbols such as the great German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich’s painting Wanderer Above a Sea of Fog.

But that’s like baling out the Pacific Ocean with a tea cup after endless media denunciations of anybody taking pride in their white heritage or feeling solidarity with other white people as obviously a gap-toothed, hateful moron.

Anybody self-identifying as “white” seems kind of pathetic or low-brow.


On the other hand, “European” sounds pretty classy.

But at present, lots of white Americans don’t have roots in Europe.

However, the Obama Administration may be on the way to solving that problem for the nascent European Identity movement in America by pandering to the Flight from White.

The lame duck administration appears to be getting ready to break out “Middle Eastern or North African” as a separate racial category different from “whites,” thus making “European” an official category in federal racial reports.

(This separation of MENA’s from whites hasn’t happened yet, but the Obama Administration has given a lot of hints that it will likely do this unless anybody objects.)

The new MENA category would facilitate complaining about “everything being run by old white men,” as the Washington Post article makes clear:

Maz Jobrani, an Iranian American actor and comedian who made a video trying to persuade people to write in “Iranian” for the 2010 Census, said that while he supports the new category, other Iranians might perceive it as a slight.

“Some Iranians are very Iranocentric; they really want it to be known that they are separate from Arabs, and when you’re talking about race, Iranians are quick to remind you that Iranians are white,” he said. “But I think it’s good to have some kind of minority status, and if that means that we’ve got to get together with others from the same region, I think there’s some good that can come of that.”

If a MENA box does appear on the next census, it may take time for communities to embrace it, Jobrani added.

“When you first come here to America, you are kind of a third-class citizen. People have a tendency to put their heads down and not make any noise and just get through their daily lives,” he said. “But then you have their children who grow up here and say, ‘How can I sit back and complain about everything being run by old white men if I don’t get involved?’ It’s realizing that your voice counts.”

And that’s the American Establishment’s highest priority these days: encouraging newcomers to “complain about everything being run by old white men.”

After all, there’s nothing more unfashionable than being called white.

The federal government’s definitions of race tend to have a lot of influence because they determine how statistics are collected, which then make some paths easier to think about than others. If the government changes the rules for who is eligible for money and prizes, everybody winds up playing along. For example, in the 1970s, East Asian immigrant businessmen were known as Orientals and thus eligible for some lucrative preferences in government contracting and low interest loans under the concept of Minority Business Development. In contrast, South Asian immigrant businessmen were classified as white or Caucasian and thus didn’t get any minority goodies. So, the South Asians complained until they got kicked out of the profitless white category and grouped with the Orientals in the new Asian category.

Genetically, South Asians tend to be somewhat closer to Europeans than they are to, say, Chinese, but who cares about science when being officially nonwhite is worth real money?

And this pan-Mediterranean definition of whites (or, as they used to be known in official terminology, “Caucasians”) reflected not just anthropological science but general American impressions. In a pre-diversity America focused on whites, blacks, and American Indians, Lebanese were definitely in the general white bucket.

Danny Thomas, born Amos Muzyad Yakhoob Kairouz in Michigan in 1912 to Lebanese Maronite Catholics, was a huge TV star in the 1950s and an admired philanthropist who founded the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He was the first gentile to become a member of Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles and the PGA held the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic golf tournament from 1970-1984. His daughter Marlo Thomas succeeded him as a TV star.

Everybody loved this guy. Going to a Catholic school in the San Fernando Valley in the 1960s, Danny Thomas was seen as a great Catholic American.

But Lebanon’s in Asia.

For purposes of keeping old data that didn’t break out “MENA” relevant, the new MENA category would likely make the MENA category and the new rump category of European whites add up to the old, broader definition of whites. The Obama Administration says:

This would address potential inconsistencies across data collections where data describing a Middle Eastern or North African group could be reported separately for detailed analyses (for example, where sample size permits), but otherwise could be aggregated into the “White” reporting category to facilitate comparability across information collections that would not have large enough samples to permit separate, detailed reporting.

I think that means that in future Census data, “Whites” will equal “MENA” (a person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Middle East or North Africa) plus Group X (a person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe). As far as I’ve heard, nobody has thought about what Group X will be officially called. But the simplest, most natural name for this rump group unaffected by the proposed changes would be “Europeans” or “European-Americans.”

In other words, the feds will need to keep the word “whites” to keep relevant all the earlier data collected when Middle Easterners and North Africans were lumped in with Europeans. So in the future, “whites” will continue to exist for the federal government as supercategory of MENA plus Europeans.


Going forward, the existence of a MENA implies another category, which would naturally be called “Europeans” or “European-Americans.”

One detail that’s up in the air at present in the federal plans is whether Armenians and Georgians from Asia just south of the European border in the Caucasus would be included in the MENA grouping. The Washington Post reports:

The Census Bureau’s working MENA classification includes people with origins in Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates or Yemen, as well as those who identify as Amazigh or Berber, Arab, Assyrian, Bedouin, Chaldean, Copt, Druze, Kurdish or Syriac.

Groups that could be added in the future include Turks, Sudanese, Somalis, Afghans, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Cypriots, Djiboutians, Georgians, Mauritanians, South Sudanese and Turkish Cypriots, census officials said.

I think the issue is that Turkey is partly European in territory and the US officially supports Turkey’s accession to the European Union. That then raises the question of what to do with Asian countries beyond Turkey like Armenia and Georgia that are outposts of Christendom.

For example, here is my Los Angeles city councilman, Paul Krekorian, a third generation San Fernando Valley resident who looks a little bit like me, although he appears to shave more regularly.

Krekorian makes a big deal about being Armenian, although his Wikipedia page leaves it ambiguous whether or not his mother was also Armenian.

(I’d say that, like a lot of successful politicians, he looks a little Irish, but I’m just guessing.)

Traditionally, in California, people with names like Paul Krekorian and former Governor George Deukmejian were always considered white.

When Deukmejian defeated L.A. mayor Tom Bradley for governor in 1982 and 1986, it was always seen as the white guy versus the black guy.

But, Armenia is not, technically, in Europe. It lies in Asia.

And there are big advantages to being reclassified as non-white.

But all that are just details.

Perhaps after the Obama Lame Duck Administration announces the MENA category, the non-MENA among the old whites will start using a more stylish new term like “European-American” to push for their interests.

Stranger things have happened.

Once the federal government swings its power behind the “European-American” monicker, then European-American Identity groups will have a much easier time of agreeing upon who is in and who is out of their group: the feds are validating Europeanism for them.

This will raise questions for the single most influential group in public discourse, Ashkenazi Jews. Are they Europeans or are they MENAs? The feds have suggested that Israeli Jewish immigrants will be expected to self-identify as MENAs, but there has been no hint about Ashkenazis, who have typically been in Europe for a couple of thousand years and are, according to recent genome studies, on average slightly more European than MENA by descent. But would self-identifying as Europeans be seen as invalidating their claim to the Holy Land in the Middle East?

Keep in mind that federal race and ethnicity categories work by self-identification. For example, the President of the United States identified himself on the 2010 Census as 100% black, despite being 50% white.

We don’t know what different individuals will choose to do. It could be that many politically conservative Ashkenazis will identify as MENA to uphold the Jewish claim to Israel. Or it could be that liberal Ashkenazis will identify as MENA in the name of fighting white privilege. Or vice-versa. Nobody really knows as of yet.

Jared Taylor very much wants Jews within his identity politics movement. As a certain immigrant media tycoon once remarked to a friend of mind in explaining why he subsidized neoconservative spokesmen, “To succeed in America, don’t need all the Jews in New York on your side, but you do need some.”

A European-American identity movement with heavy Jewish leadership might become an accepted player on the identity politics scene. On the other hand, if Ashkenazis overwhelmingly choose to go the MENA route as part of the general Flight from White, anti-Europeanism would likely become a default public prejudice of ambitious Americans.

The future is unwritten. The Obama Administration appears likely to make it more interesting.

• Tags: Flight from White 
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Following up Masha Gessen’s article in The New Yorker, here’s an NYT column on the apparently burning issue of just how big a threat white racists are to poor Dzhokhar Tsarnaev over his not looking white enough.

Is the Defendant White or Not?
JAN. 23, 2015

Prof. Nour Kteily


Nour Kteily is an assistant professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Sarah Cotterill is a doctoral student in the department of psychology at Harvard.

AS jury selection continues in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the defendant in the Boston Marathon bombings, so does debate about what would constitute a fair and impartial jury.

Questions have been raised about the race, gender, age and religiosity of prospective jurors; about the effect of holding the trial in Boston; and about the legal requirement that the jurors be open to the possibility of sentencing the defendant to death.

But recent research of ours suggests that another, largely overlooked factor may also play an important role in the trial: whether the jurors perceive Mr. Tsarnaev as white. …

Which individuals were less likely to “grant” the Tsarnaevs whiteness? In our initial questionnaire, we focused on two ideological outlooks that have been well studied by political psychologists: the belief that some groups of people are superior to others (“social dominance orientation”) and the belief in the importance of following traditions and respecting authorities (“right-wing authoritarianism”). We found that participants who scored high in either outlook were less likely to perceive the Tsarnaev brothers as looking white, effectively steering the brothers into “outsider” territory.

We also found that such whiteness perceptions had the potential to play an important role in the outcome of Mr. Tsarnaev’s trial. The lower that individuals rated Mr. Tsarnaev as looking white, the more willing they were to punish him severely. In a case like Mr. Tsarnaev’s, where guilt is widely presumed and where the outcome will most likely fall on one side of the line between life imprisonment and death, this finding seems especially relevant.

One implication of our research is the need to expand what factors play a role in determining jury makeup. If your tendency to perceive a defendant as more like “us” or “them” is reliably predicted by certain of your ideological beliefs, and if those beliefs can influence factors critical to the impartiality of the legal process, then jury screening questionnaires should measure them.

In an increasingly multiracial world, trying racially ambiguous defendants will become only more common. Just as we ask potential jurors questions like “Do you go to church?” we need to ask questions like “Is having a decent respectable appearance still the mark of a lady?” (one of many questions used to gauge right-wing authoritarianism) and “If certain groups of people ‘stayed in their place,’ would we have fewer problems?” (social dominance orientation).

By using such information, courts can better take into account the broader ideological balance of a potential jury.


Yes, but white people are notoriously sneaky liars who conspire secretly on a vast scale via winks and nods to persecute poor Chechen-Americans. You’ve heard of Systemic Racism, haven’t you? That’s what it is: a super conspiracy. So, just asking white potential jurors questions isn’t good enough. They must be hooked up to those Implicit-Association Tests and have Science ferret out their hatefulness.

Of course, unprivileged discriminated against nonwhites like Professor Nour Kteily of the Kellogg School of Management should not be subjected to such indignities. It’s hard enough for upper middle class Lebanese to get by in the racist hellhole of America when they come here from Canada to share with us ignorant Americans their world-famous Lebanese wisdom on how different ethnic groups can all get along. (E.g., Should your ethnic group shell your neighbors’ apartment buildings with heavy artillery or just stick with sniper fire? Perhaps mortars make an ideal compromise?)

Or we could just go to a system where Chechens can only be tried by a jury of their peers: i.e., other Chechens. Of course, that would require importing more Chechens to live here so we’d have enough jurors, what with their tendency to run amok spectacularly. But we should bring in more Chechens anyway just to add vibrancy to all of America the way the Tsarnaevs made Boston more vibrant.

However, Zemir Begic’s whiteness seems to be of less interest to The New Yorker, New York Times, and the Kellogg School than Dzhokhar’s. I wonder why?

• Tags: Flight from White 
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The national news media appears to be turning into a giant conspiracy to feed me material. Yesterday, in “Flight from White — American Indian Version,” I noted the New York Times’ breathless article about an academic who has made a career for himself as an American Indian despite being a redheaded white guy. Tonight, in the Washington Post:
The Post’s caption:

“Heather Purser (right) and her girlfriend, Rebecca Platter, are shown near their home in Olympia, Washington, on May 7, 2103. Purser, a member of the Suquamish Tribe, got her tribal council to to vote in favor of gay marriage.”

Okay, which of these two white women, the brunette or the blonde, is the American Indian? My first guess was the brunette, but it turns out to be the blonde.


<div”>The blonde’s t-shirt appears to be racially stereotyping the residents of Motown (83% black) as prone to gun violence. Are blondes really allowed to do that in the Washington Post? Or is it okay because this blonde’s not white?


That raises the metaphysical question: Can a blonde lesbian who claims to be an American Indian be racist against blacks? I look forward to the Washington Post’s black magazine The Root debating this burning topic for several months.

Update: Okay, I’ve finally read the first three paragraphs in the article:

For Heather Purser, the first pang came more than a decade ago as she gathered clams on Puget Sound’s Chico Beach, watching her cousin’s new husband assist with the digging. She figured she’d never have a legal spouse to help with the backbreaking work.

Then Purser, a member of Washington state’s Suquamish Tribe who says she knew she was gay at age 7, decided to act: She led a personal lobbying campaign that ended with her tribal council voting in 2011 to approve gay marriage.

“I realized that I do have the power to change my situation,” said Purser, 30, a commercial seafood diver from Olympia, Wash.

Is this whole story a prank? It sounds like it was made up by the kind of 8th grader who finds everything the teacher says hilariously dirty.

Well, if it is a prank it’s more like a long running performance art project. Googling “Heather Purser” brings up a considerable number of you-go-girl profiles of her. Here’s an article about her in Indian Country:

Ms. Purser in her clamdiver suit

Diver Heather Purser Pioneers Same-Sex Marriage for Suquamish
Kevin Taylor
January 18, 2012

Earlier last month in Seattle, as all the threads for a planned Human Rights Day banquet were being woven together, Heather Purser, Suquamish, who was to be among the honored guests, was shuffling through mud and ooze.

Under 50 feet of water. Down on the cold bottom of Puget Sound. Wrestling with giant clams.


Purser in New York Times, 2011

The Washington Post story is hardly Purser’s first tribute in the national media Here’s an ever-so-serious New York Times story from 2011 about Ms. Purser, back when she had strawberry blonde hair.

And here’s her profile on NPR’s All Things Considered.

Plus, there are a whole bunch of other news stories about her over the years in lesser venues.

For instance, in Yes! Magazine:

Same-Sex Marriage Brings Healing to Me—and My Tribe

Heather Purser set out to win gay marriage rights within the Suquamish Tribe and found herself on a personal journey toward self-acceptance.

Considering her omnipresence in the media, maybe Heather Purser is the Greg Packer of Gay Marriage?

In case you are wondering who Greg Packer is, here’s Ann Coulter’s 2003 column exposing the highway maintenance worker who has been quoted countless times in the MSM as the Voice of the Man on the Street. Here, for example, is a photo of Greg first in line for an iPhone at the Times Square Apple Store, ready with a media-friendly quote.

P.P.S. And what about Rebecca Platter, the non-Indian brunet in the Washington Post’s romantic backlit photo above? Well, perhaps she used to be a blonde too, at least she was in this picture of a Rebecca Platter on Red Room: Where the Writers Are. That Rebecca Platter’s bio says:

I am a writer who has a strong voice and a clever way with words. I make poetry with strong visual metaphors and an unexplainable emotional pull. Although I have not officially been published I know I will be at some point when the time is right. I feel strongly that the current generation needs to re-connect with their deeper thoughts as opposed to surface “shares” that have become too common. Red Room is a place where I can be surrounded by people who inspire me to continue on my journey.

According to Rebecca Platter’s bio at The Seattle Lesbian:

Rebecca Platter graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in Comparative History of Ideas and a minor in Russian Literature. After studying abroad in Iceland and graduating on the Dean’s List, she backpacked throughout Europe then later moved to Costa Rica volunteering to tutor locals in English. Passionate about LGBTQ rights, Rebecca is excited to serve as a contributing writer for The Seattle Lesbian while working to transition her love of writing into a career. Rebecca is obsessed with painting multiple headed naked women, traveling anywhere she can, writing about life and wearing red lipstick whenever possible. She is currently writing a set of personal comedic memoirs. Read more.

“Multiple headed naked women”

So, this is all a Portlandia sketch come to life. (Indeed, one story says Rebecca is a barista.) We have two Northwest publicity hounds who have successfully exploited the media’s gay marriage obsession. And over the course of several years of media coverage, none of these crack newshounds noticed anything amusing about the story.

By the way, even though Purser grabbed national attention for getting the Suquamish Nation to approve gay marriage in the spring of 2011, the pair still aren’t married, or even engaged. The Washington Post article by Rob Hotakainen ends:

Purser is optimistic that the Supreme Court will make gay marriage the law of the land, leaving religion out of the deliberations.

She’s still unmarried, but is living with 28-year-old Rebecca Platter, her partner of three years.

“We’re not engaged, but I do plan on getting married — and she’s definitely the one,” Purser said.

I’ll leave you with Rebecca Platter’s entire Twitter account:


  1. Eating strawberries waiting for my face mask to dry.
  2. So cold outside! I need to clean my room. How does it get this messy?
  3. @MarleyBlonsky This is kinda confusing- I am trying to get part of the circle now– you are the only person I know on here

Stop snickering! Haven’t you been informed often enough that gay marriage is the most serious issue in the history of the world?

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Flight from White 
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High school picture of
Chief Party Hearty Dude of the
Cherokee Tribe of Ulster
Here’s the inspirational story of a redhead who has made an academic career for himself out of being 1/16th Native American by genes and 0/16th Native American by upbringing. From the New York Times:

Overcoming Addiction, Professor Tackles Perils American Indians Face 


LAWRENCE, Kan. — The visitor to Haskell Indian Nations University detailed his roaring 20s: drug addict, garbage collector, suicidal burnout once told by a doctor that he was mentally retarded. It was a curious way to inspire a group of young American Indian students long surrounded by these types of problems. Until he got to the good part. 

“I never shared this with anyone until I got my Ph.D.,” he said. 

His American name is David A. Patterson, his Cherokee name Adelv unegv Waya, or Silver Wolf. He is a tenure-track assistant professor at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. His groundbreaking research on the pitfalls facing Native Americans is both informed and inspired by his own story of deliverance. 

“Mentally retarded? I wish I could find that doctor now,” Dr. Patterson said, the students transfixed. 

Dr. Patterson, 49, has devoted what he considers his second life to studying the quicksand that just about swallowed him, and that continues to imperil American Indians more than any other ethnic group. About 18 percent of American Indian or Alaska Native adults need substance-abuse treatment, almost twice the national average, according to figures from the federal government. Deaths from alcoholism, diabetes, homicide and suicide are two to six times as high among Native Americans as they are among other groups, according to various studies. 

Student and Dr. Patterson

During Dr. Patterson’s childhood in Louisville, Ky., any interest he might have had in his Cherokee roots was discouraged by his abusive father and squelched by teasing schoolmates. By 9, he had moved from beer to highballs, and at 18 he was a quaalude-favoring high school dropout. Detached and directionless, he pointed a loaded rifle at his head one afternoon in his basement before someone knocked at the door. 

It was his mother’s brother, Bill Allen. He treated David’s disconnection with some long-repressed family history. Mr. Allen recounted how his grandmother, David’s great-grandmother, was half-Cherokee, making David 1/16th Cherokee.

1/16th Cherokee!

He told him where she came from, the traditions David never enjoyed. This expanding family lineage, which to that point had essentially stopped with his Irish father, gave David a new sense of belonging. … 

Dr. Patterson used this newfound past to conceive a future. … Growing his hair into a Cherokee ponytail and with fresh tattoos of a wolf and three tepees, he enrolled at Spalding University and earned a degree in social work.  

He got his master’s degree and his doctorate from the University of Louisville, also in social work. He was hired by the University of Buffalo as an assistant professor studying solutions for Native American substance abuse and high dropout rates — longtime problems caused in part, Dr. Patterson’s research suggests, by the same cultural disconnection that he had felt. 

As you know, no redhead in the history of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, England, or Wales has ever battled alcoholism.

Actually, the reddish-haired peoples have a variety of traditions of semi-successful social movements to overcome alcoholism, going back to Hogarth’s 1750s paintings of Gin Alley v. Beer Lane, the Irish Catholic temperance movement of the mid 1800s, Bill Wilson and Bob Smith’s Alcoholics Anonymous, up through Ian MacKaye and Jeff Nelson’s punk band Minor Threat, which launched the Straight Edge movement.

There have been similar movements among American Indians, going back to Tecumseh’s brother The Prophet’s demand that Indians give up firewater. But, the general lack of success among American Indians at battling demon rum is of course what makes it so much more profitable these days to be a professional American Indian helping more real American Indians to get in touch with their traditions, even though their traditions are largely ones of failure in dealing with the evolutionarily novel chemical.

In the long run, biochemical advances are the most likely way to deal with the fact that Native Americans haven’t had as along to evolve to deal with the effects of alcohol, the way, say, Mediterranean peoples have. But there doesn’t seem much interesting in studying that approach these days, since we all know race doesn’t exist.

The Brown School, ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the nation’s top schools of social work, lured him away last year.

Squinting like Clint playing a halfbreed       

“He brings to the table new strategies, new ways and new perspectives to think about,” said Pete Coser, the program manager for the Kathryn M. Buder Center for American Indian Studies, a division of the Brown School. “His story and experiences will be able to bring, at least, a light to those that are experiencing it now. Things that plague Indian country. How do we get over the mental monster that keeps us in that box?” …

Dr. Patterson’s research focuses on intervention strategies for substance abusers in underserved populations, particularly American Indians. He has just finished teaching a graduate-level class on drug and alcohol abuse. 

As the first American Indian professor at the Brown School, Dr. Patterson has helped connect Indian students on campus, of whom there about 20, with their varying heritages. (Students belong to the Choctaw, Navajo and Seneca nations and a half-dozen others across the United States.) He invites them to his home to sit around a drum and teach one another Native songs. 

One evening, eight students gathered in a downpour with Dr. Patterson outside the Brown building for a traditional spiritual cleansing ceremony. A student lighted some blades of sweet grass and gently waved the smoke on each student with an eagle feather. The smoke rose into the dripping trees as a student led the prayer: “We ask our creator to help us stay on track,” he said, “and take this education, this training, kinship, all of this back home.” 

Lindsay Belone, a Navajo from Twin Lakes, N.M., is working on her master’s degree with Dr. Patterson. “He’s brought to the classroom a lot of American Indian spirituality and social justice issues — honoring mother earth and our ancestors,” she said. “He’s definitely a leader in Indian country who I can look up to. If you want to be a professor, that can happen.” 

Dr. Patterson will return to Buffalo this summer to participate in ceremonies among the Six Nations of the Iroquois and speak with students about Indian challenges. He also plans to visit other American Indian communities across the nation to share his story, much as he did last fall at Haskell, the only accredited university devoted to serving various Indian tribes. 

Haskell’s history makes it as much shrine as school: a century ago, young Indians whose tribes’ land had been seized by the United States were sent there to become Christians, cut their hair and shed their traditional customs and tongues. Students who did not comply could be beaten or chained to walls in what is now Kiva Hall. Many died there from such abuse. 

The Stolen Generations — which is totally different from the oncoming Borrowed Generations of government-provided infant care and preschool and after school programs and that public boarding school in D.C. for poor kids.

Today, about 1,000 students use some of the same buildings to become one of the rare members of their tribes to earn a college degree. More inspiration came from Dr. Patterson, most poignantly when he explained why he took the name Silver Wolf. Wolves “take care of each other,” he said. “Their survival depends on it.” 

Terry Redlightning, a Haskell junior from the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, recalled how only 17 of his 100 classmates at Flandreau Indian School graduated with him.

Apparently, the UnStolen Generation educational method isn’t working, either.

He described a “feeling of hopelessness” pervading his community back home and said Indians there live on whatever comes to them. “Whether that’s a government handout or a minimum-wage-paying job — or you commit suicide,” he said. 

“Those are your options — at least that’s what the thinking is,” Mr. Redlightning said. “Especially when you’re a kid, you see it. You’re constantly going to funerals. Death by drugs or alcohol. Car wrecks. Suicide. You don’t have any high expectations.” 

After his lectures last fall, Dr. Patterson walked around campus to visit relics of Haskell’s sad past — the powwow grounds, Kiva Hall and some sacred wetlands. Then he went to the most solemn area of all. It was a cemetery filled with dozens of small, weathered gravestones for children who, four and five generations ago, did not survive their days at Haskell. 

Dr. Patterson teared up when he saw the stones from a distance. “These are the children of the Holocaust for us,” he said. 

He dried his cheeks with a tissue and kept walking toward the cemetery. He looked up and saw a red-tailed hawk perched on a lamppost, leading him still.

This is not, of course, to diminish the tragic problems of genuine American Indians. But it does point out one source of the constant demand to import foreigners whose children and grandchildren are above average in likelihood to need expensive social services. Jason Richwine is being excoriated for suggesting that the American-born children of, say, foreign stoop laborers are, statistically, likely to be greater tax-consumers than taxpayers.

But, to a lot of people out there, that quite obvious prediction sounds less like a bug than a feature. More immigration of Latin American laborers will create more social work jobs for people like them. And, if they can gin up some tenuous claim to being Hispanic themselves, they can be not only social workers, but role models and leaders of their vibrant people, celebrated in the NYT, like Dr. Patterson is celebrated for being 1/16th American Indian.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Flight from White 
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Bestselling 58-year-old sportswriter Buzz Bissinger, whose 1990 book Friday Night Lights was based on in-depth locker room interviews of half-dressed teenage high school football players, announces in GQ that he has spent $587,000 over the last three years on clothes for himself, both men’s and women’s, such as thigh-high leather boots with six-inch stiletto heels.

Before I started shopping with [his personal stylist] at Gucci, I could count on one finger the number of compliments I got from strangers on what I was wearing. Now I get dozens, 99 percent of them from women and gays and African-Americans who appreciate go-for-it style. No wonder male heterosexual whites are aimed toward obsolescence, boring the rest of us to death. 

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Flight from White 
Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

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