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The Whitewashing of ‘The Black Dilemma’

A white nationalist group’s 2014 op-ed continued spreading online for years thanks to readers who unknowingly (or not) share it as a copypasta screed with a legitimate newspaper’s name attached to it.

The piece was published by American Renaissance magazine, an outlet formed by the “New Century Foundation.” As the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has reported:

Founded by Jared Taylor in 1990, the New Century Foundation is a self-styled think tank that promotes pseudo-scientific studies and research that purport to show the inferiority of blacks to whites — although in hifalutin language that avoids open racial slurs and attempts to portray itself as serious scholarship. It is best known for its American Renaissance magazine and website, which regularly feature proponents of eugenics and blatant anti-Black racists. The foundation also sponsors American Renaissance conferences every other year where racist “intellectuals” rub shoulders with Klansmen, neo-Nazis and other white supremacists.

The post’s original title, “Ten Percent is Not Enough,” is a reference to the essay “The Talented Tenth,” which has been attributed to Black educator W.E.B. DuBois. However, historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr. has reported that the phrase was actually coined by Henry Lyman Morehouse — a white man who would later become the namesake for Morehouse College. According to Gates, Morehouse wrote:

In the discussion concerning Negro education we should not forget the talented tenth man. An ordinary education may answer for the nine men of mediocrity; but if this is all we offer the talented tenth man, we make a prodigious mistake. The tenth man, with superior natural endowments, symmetrically trained and highly developed, may become a mightier influence, a greater inspiration to others than all the other nine, or nine times nine like them.

However, the magazine article pushed the racist claim that this “talented tenth” percentile would not be enough to help Black Americans, while invoking familiar right-wing stereotypes:

Through the years, too many Black people continue to show an inability to function and prosper in a culture unsuited to them.

Detroit is bankrupt, the south side of Chicago is a war zone, and majority-Black cities all over America are beset by degeneracy and violence. And blacks never take responsibility for their failures. Instead, they lash out in anger and resentment. Across the generations and across the country, as we have seen in Detroit, Watts, Newark, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, and now Ferguson, rioting and looting are just one racial incident away.

Within a year after its original publication, the essay began circulating in other online circles, with a new title (“The Black Dilemma”) and a line whitewashing its origins:

“The Baltimore Sun” is definitely not known as a Conservative newspaper, so this very well written assessment of the situation in USA comes as something of a surprise..

Another iteration, which we spotted in an April 2021 post on a “Patriots” Facebook group, added to the op-ed with a separate, even more xenophobic passage:

A good article Well worth a few minutes to read.
A liberal paper spelling out the facts for a change! Wow, Read This!
The English came and they were poor and now they are rich.
The Scots came and they were poor and now they are rich.
The Germans came and they were poor and now they are rich.
The Irish came and they were poor and now they are rich.
The Poles came and they were poor and now they are rich.
The Hungarians came and they were poor and now they are rich
The Cubans came and they were poor and now they are rich.
The Viets came and they were poor and now they are rich.
The Latins came, they were poor but they have worked hard, now they are rich. The Africans came and they were poor and now they continue to be poor. WHY? read the below.

American Renaissance was involved in a news story on its own account in February 2022, when right-wing media personality Michelle Malkin and her husband were barred from using the rental platform Airbnb after attending one of the group’s events in Tennessee.

“Consistent with our policies, if we become aware of users who are members of or are actively affiliated with hate groups, we remove them from Airbnb,” an Airbnb spokesperson said.

We contacted the actual Baltimore Sun newspaper asking if they would like to respond to the exploitation of their name for the purposes of the post, but have not received a response.

Update 2/4/2022, 2 p.m. PST: This article has been revamped and updated. You can review the original here. -ag