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Jamaican Lipton Matthews is AmRen’s most frequent black contributor. He is a libertarian who opposes multiculturalism and mass immigration. His work can be found on the Federalist, American Thinker, the Imaginative Conservative, and elsewhere. Chris Roberts interviewed him via email earlier this week.
Chris Roberts: Let’s start with the obvious: You’re black and you write for American Renaissance. What made you decide to write for us, especially since you’ve written for many more mainstream websites? What would you say to blacks and liberals who would call you an “Uncle Tom”?
Lipton Matthews: American Renaissance is willing to explore controversial issues, unlike mainstream outlets, so I decided to share my ideas in the pages of this publication. It was once the norm for even figures in establishment circles like David Landes and Samuel Huntington to extol the virtues of the West. Today, as we have seen with the case of Lawrence Mead, people can get into real trouble for suggesting that some racial groups are not thriving in America due to their inability to assimilate into the individualistic and achievement-oriented culture of the West. On the other hand, I would tell critics of my ideas to stop infantilizing black people. White people can express a variety of opinions, but blacks who do not conform to mainstream views are seen as “sellouts.” I think this is one of the reasons for the lack of dynamism among black academics. Instead of producing innovative material many of them opt to comply with the prevailing consensus and as a result we end up with scores of black writers who can talk only about race.
CR: Do genetics or culture account for most racial differences in achievement and behavior?
LM: Genes influence IQ and self-control and both variables are correlated with success. However, notwithstanding the significance of genetics, culture is also important. The late John Ogbu popularized the “acting white” thesis asserting that black students do not do as well as their white peers because academic excellence is perceived as “acting white,” so to gain social acceptance many students opt to not excel in school. Some disagree with the thesis but this does not change the fact black students endure greater social costs for doing well in school. If genes do not predispose one to engage in intellectually stimulating tasks, then a negative culture will compound the problem. However, recent research has demonstrated that black Americans have reduced the racial IQ gap, thus indicating that groups can improve. But the matter is still under review, so I prefer not to give a percentage value.
CR: What made you start thinking about race beyond the typical clichés?
LP: My interest in the rise and fall of nations led me to study personality differences based on race and nationality. Some countries are rich and others are poor, so obviously all cultures cannot be equal. Individualistic cultures, for example are more innovative than collectivist cultures and blacks and Hispanics have a lower tolerance for risk — this could explain the racial wealth gap. People do not have the same values and since some beliefs are better than others, studying racial differences can give us insight into the reasons for achievements and failures among different groups.
CR: How big a role does race play in your personal life? Do you look up demographic data when you choose where to live? Most Americans have friends almost entirely of their own race, and most Americans date members of their own race. Is that true of you?
LP: Race does not play a role in my personal life because I am not an identitarian. Yes, looking up demographic data is wise since exercising judgement requires discrimination. Even though I am not an identitarian, the evidence suggests that some groups are more likely to commit crimes than others, so common sense dictates that we stay away from such people. I form relationships based on similarities with the other party; race is not a factor.
Jared Taylor: Have you ever experienced anything that you would call “racism?”
LP: No, but I have heard black people express contempt for their fellow blacks and other races. Few of my acquaintances have had negative experiences with white people. Racism can never be eliminated. With maturity, people may alter their opinions, but we do not live in a perfect world.
CR: When other blacks, family members or not, learn about your opinions on science and politics, what reactions do you get?
LP: My relatives know that I think independently and as such they do not object to my views since they are influenced by evidence. However, other blacks usually respond with hysteria, but that is not my problem. For example, in an email responding to a piece critical of anti-colonialism one reader stated that “I should die.” I frequently get email from black people accusing me of ignorance or suggesting that I suffer from an inferiority complex. One angry writer told me that I was backward for defending Europeans who, he said, believed that the earth was flat in the Medieval ages. By his comments he demonstrated ignorance because during the Medieval ages the predominant position was that the earth was round, not flat. The fable of the flat earth was propagated by anti-Christian writers like John Draper and Washington Irving. Though the flat Earth theory is still popular it has been debunked by Stephen Jay Gould and other writers. However, some blacks have praised me for bravery.
CR: You’re Jamaican. Do you think that makes you different from American blacks? Does that “outsider” status give you a more objective perspective on black culture?
LP: The culture of black Jamaicans is just as regressive as that of black Americans. Like many countries in the Caribbean, its people do not respect time. The culture of mendicancy is also pervasive. The only difference is that Jamaicans are not under the spell of white liberals in America. However, Jamaican intellectuals often follow the lead of American leftists, so in due time I expect Jamaican blacks to become just as confused as their North American counterparts.
CR: Ideologically, you’re an anarcho-capitalist, in the tradition of the late Murray Rothbard. For a long time, there was considerable overlap between Americans who cared about race and Americans who wanted to shrink the government. That started to change in 2015, when many race realist libertarians began adopting more nationalist stances on economic policy. What do you make of that change?
LP: Race realist libertarians adopting nationalist stances on economic policy is not surprising. Although race realist libertarians favor capitalism, they acknowledge that unrestricted immigration will not just change the demographics of America, but also its culture. Clearly, all countries do not value individual dignity and human rights, so more immigrants could undermine liberty in America. Global trade agreements are inspired by lobbyists and international business people to the detriment of Americans. Hence, to some race realist libertarians they are a form of protectionism in disguise.
CR: When you read American Renaissance or Jared Taylor, with what do you most disagree?
LP: White separatism is impractical. Whites are not ethnocentric enough to create a white ethnostate. I think American Renaissance and Jared Taylor should focus on getting other racial groups to understand that Western civilization is the most progressive force in history, so it would be better for them to desist from complaining and just assimilate into Western countries. The strongest argument in favor of Western supremacy is that people want to migrate to Western countries. The Western world is so bad, yet most people want to live in the West.
CR: What are the chances of race realism being accepted by the mainstream in the next five years? Ten years?
LP: Race realism does not need to be accepted by the mainstream. Race realists only require a large audience to topple the mainstream.
CR: Do you have any final thoughts?
LP: American Renaissance must continue to resist the tyranny of Big Tech or better yet secure funding to start a social media platform.