Some balancing of misleading John McWhorter quotations

To the Expositor:

I was visiting the Island and read a letter to the editor (‘A contrary viewpoint on Black Lives Matter’) that badly interprets and selectively paraphrases John McWhorter’s take on racism and Black Lives Matter (BLM) and I felt I had to respond. Shaun Desjardins of Mindemoya wrote that McWhorter’s research shows that more Whites are killed by police than Blacks, as though he were undermining the BLM movement. But that’s not McWhorter’s point. Far from somehow arguing that systemic racism doesn’t exist, the Columbia University linguistics professor also mentions that Blacks are killed more by police per capita than White people, that Blacks live disproportionately in poorer communities in the US (communities visited by cops more frequently) and that Blacks are also stopped and searched much more frequently. McWhorter also wrote in The Atlantic that his personal research suggests that police, as badly trained as they are, don’t literally start each day deliberately targeting Black people. But of course they don’t. He describes the tragedy as a function of systemic racism.

The whole point of BLM is to shine a light on this. I saw a meme that said either you believe systemic racism exists, or you’re part of the system, and I thought that was worth thinking about.

Thanks for considering this. 

Gavin Adamson

Toronto