Until a commenter kept mentioning him, I had never heard of Leonard Pitts. Given the context, I just assumed he was a writer for a black website like The Root or the Huffington Post. One of the things about the media age is someone can be wildly famous, yet unknown to most people. PewDiePie is a great example. He has 50 million subscribers to his YouTube channel, yet few adults over 40 have heard of him. The number of people, who are unknown to me, but are wildly popular with blacks is probably quite long.
Since this commenter kept posting the man’s name, I decided to look him up and I learned that he lives outside Washington and has been a columnist for the Miami Herald for decades. That’s a weird thing, when you think about it. Why would the Miami Herald have a columnist, who lives in DC? The reason, of course, is that the demand for black columnists, to decorate the op-ed pages of big city newspapers, far outstrips supply. If you are a black guy who can play the part, the world is your oyster.
That may seem harsh, but a quick look at the columns written by Pitts finds what you always find with black writers. As Derb would put it, it is all blackety-black. He has done a lot of work on being a black father. He has written columns on being a black man. He has written lots of columns flinging his poo at Republicans over race. Pretty much every Progressive news operation has a slot for the black guy, who writes about his blackness and flings poo at Republicans for their lack of sensitivity to the blackness.
Pitts has written some books too. His first was Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood. The topic is obvious. His first novel is Before I Forget, a “novel of three generations of black men bound by blood — and by histories of mutual love, fear, and frustration.” His next novel, Freeman, is about a former slave. His most recent novel is called Grant Park and it is, wait for it, a story of race and race relations. To paraphrase John Derbyshire, Leonard Pitts is a prisoner of his own skin.
He is also a good example of the negative group identity. Blackness in America is a laundry list of grievances against whites and a list of things that blacks reject about society. It has little to say about what it means to be black, independent of whites. Much like the contours of a black hole, we can only know black identity by knowing the surrounding white identity. Wherever white culture ends, that’s where black identity begins. In America, being black means not being white.
This negative identity has been particularly toxic to black Americans, because a negative identity binds the worst with the best. The greatest exponents of black culture are those who are the most degenerate. Hip-hop culture is a perfect example. It celebrates the worst instincts of black people. Any black who points this out is pilloried for acting white. The result is a never ending race to the cultural bottom, dragging the rest of the black population down with it. Even Obama was forced to respect the gutter culture of hip-hop.
This anti-identity is why blacks demand to live near whites. Whites will often note that despite all the complaints about how whites treat blacks, black people will literally cross an ocean to live near whites. In America, this means demands for subsidies so that blacks can move into white suburban neighborhoods and send their kids to white schools. In cities with voucher programs, blacks try everything to get their kids out of black schools and into white schools. On its face, it seems illogical, given the list of black grievances.
There’s more to this phenomenon, but one aspect is that black identity depends on proximity to whites. Sure, blacks want safer neighborhoods and better schools, but they also need to be near whites as being black in America is wholly defined by how whites treat blacks. The reason blacks are prisoners of their skin is because to do otherwise means losing what it means to be black. If all black people left America, whites would not change. If the roles were reversed, blacks would have to invent a new identity.
The negative identity is not just debilitating to groups. Thumbing through the writings of Leonard Pitts, the image of him is of a man in a perpetual state of outrage. He is a bundle of resentments. All of his interactions with the white world, even those of his imagination, are placed on his own scale of slights. His life is not the accumulation of experiences adding to his identity as a man, but a running list of complaints about the world around him. He is an anti-man, because if he did not exist, no one would feel the need to invent him.