June 20, 2008

Return of the New Mulatto Elite

Awhile back, a British TV talent show was won by a dumpy-looking guy named Paul Potts who wowed the crowd by singing Puccini's "Nessun Dorma" aria from Turandot.

Americans don't know anything about opera anymore, so they don't realize how thrilling it can be. (The British viewers were probably vaguely familiar with the aria from the connection between soccer and the Three Tenors, "Nessun Dorma" being more or less Pavarotti's theme song.) So it was only natural for the American Idol-style show "America's Got Talent" to have as the anchorman of their season premiere this week an American contestant singing "Nessun Dorma." Neil E. Boyd, an insurance salesman of Pavarotti-like girth, floored the audience, making him the frontrunner.

I imagine the producers of the show auditioned a lot of part-time opera singers to find the one they were going to anoint as the American Paul Potts. The fellow they came up with, Boyd, is (not too surprisingly) part black, with a white mom with whom he is very close.

A couple of years ago, my wife predicted early in the American Idol season that Jordin Sparks, the daughter of an NFL cornerback and a redhead, would win, since she could sing both black and white.

I think there's a general lesson emerging: whites like blacks, but black teens these days don't like much of anything they consider white. They like just hip-hop and basketball (and, okay, football, too). Almost everything else is considered a violation of keeping it real.

Even though blacks may tend to have a natural advantage at creating resonant vocal tones, the very idea of singing opera is totally off their radar. Sure, there were big time black opera singers like Marian Anderson as far back as between the Wars, but black youths aren't interested in that kind of acting white anymore.

So, the small number of mulattos who grew up with one non-black parent and thus get introduced to a wider range of cultural options beyond rap and hoops are disproportionately taking the plums that people a generation ago assumed blacks in general would be achieving.

Back in 1968, when the top American rock guitarist was Jimi Hendrix and top American tennis player was Arthur Ashe, everybody assumed that integration meant that blacks would continue to show up near the top in an ever wider variety of fields.

Today, though, superstar rock guitarist Tom Morello is the great-nephew of Jomo Kenyatta; and the second best American men's tennis player James Blake has a black father. But they both have white mothers. Similarly, five different black golfers won 23 PGA tournaments between 1961 and 1986, but since then Tiger Woods is the only player of any visible fraction of African ancestry to win a tournament.

There's somebody who's an even better example of this rise of the new mulatto elite, but I can't quite think of his name at the moment.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

32 comments:

guest007 said...

Alicia Keys is a good example of mulatto elite and how they have to be marketed. She had the white mother and the formal music education. Yet, her music videos and public persona emphasis being black since her advisers realize that whites will listen to blacks but that blacks will not listen to whites.

Anonymous said...

There's somebody who's an even better example of this rise of the new mulatto elite, but I can't quite think of his name at the moment.

Middle name is Hussein?

It's on the tip of my tongue.

That's it ... Tiger Hussein Woods!!!

Did I win something? A Fez?!? A prayer rug?!?

VG said...

I saw both the Paul Potts version and the Neal Boyd version on youtube and I think Potts does it way better. The American producers must have strained themselves really hard to find an amateur singer who sings as good as Potts but they couldn't come close.
Too bad.

VG said...

And what are the American producers gonna do to counter this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7z8ylXmHVaY&feature=related

Anonymous said...

In basketball too there seem to more mixed race players succeeding.

Anonymous said...

Steve, wait until you see them feature Nuttin' but Stringz, two cornrowed black teenagers from Queens who trained at Julliard and play classical/hip hop-inflected violin compositions. It's a Stuff White People Like dream (black people bringing their blackness to western high culture!), as well as being pretty awesome in its own right.

Here's a video of theirs from the preschooler program Jack's Big Music Show--
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJJZIrR_dRQ&feature=related

It's the second most mesmerizing thing on the show, after Laurie Berkner's breasts.

Danindc said...

Steve, The guy you're thinking of is named Barack Obama. He is the Democratic nominee for President.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's fair to group Tiger Woods into the same category as Barack Obama and Jordin Sparks. Woods' success--one may even say greatness--is not dependent upon whether or not he is liked by white folks, or black folks for that matter (Nike caps and tight-fitting red polos haven't caught on with the hip hop crowd). Obama and Sparks have won popularity contests, and while they possess undeniable talent, their accomplishments pale in comparison to Woods.

Anonymous said...

Black identity is so dependent on hatred and fear of whites and "escaping" a forced black identity, that even prominent black journalists are happy to voice their prejudices and make up their own "facts" without challenge. Hutchinson whines that the part-black folks are equally despised by "whites" yet favored by "whites" at the same time. Of course, he doesn't have to worry about his words being challenged. Note that he also politely refrains from "insulting" Hispanics and Arabs by mentioning THEIR sub-Saharan African ancestry (otherwise known as the dreaded "black blood). If "whites" were 1/10 as fanatical about promoting the "one drop" myth as blacks like Hutchinson contend, Hispanics and Arabs would nearly all be "black."

Elite blacks like Hutchsinson tutor white elites in the "one drop" myth (as long as the blacks don't step out of their place and claim politically powerful groups of partial black ancestry like Hispanics and Arabs). Blacks like Hutchinson are the moral authority telling whites that they are "racist" if they DON'T support the "one drop" myth. Then the same blacks turn around and try to frighten naive partially black mixed-race folks by telling them that the "racist whites" won't allow them to be anything but "black" and they need blacks to "protect" them. A protection racket, if you ask me.


http://www.opednews.com/articles/The-Silly-Debate-Over-Whet-by-earl-ofari-hutchin-080616-931.html

Quote:
Presumptive Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama gave the best answer to the question whether he's black, mixed race or something in between. He recently told a Chicago fundraiser crowd that to some he wasn't black enough, and he then promptly added that others say he might be too black. He's right, the knock against him has either been that he is too black or not black enough, not that he is too mixed race or not mixed race enough. Despite his occasional references to his white mother and grandmother, Obama by his own admission has never seen himself as anything other than being black. He says that's been that way since he was 12. It's that way for those whites who flatly say that they won't vote for him because he's black. His Democratic primary losses to Hillary Clinton in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Kentucky showed there are legions of white voters who feel that race does matter to them. Few have said that they oppose him because he's mixed race.Yet, the silly debate continues to rage over whether Obama is the black presidential candidate or the multi racial candidate. The debate is even sillier when one considers that science has long since debunked the notion of a pure racial type. In America, race has never been a scientific or genealogical designation, but a political and social designation. Put bluntly, anyone with the faintest trace of African ancestry was and still is considered black, and treated accordingly. Their part white ancestry doesn't give them a pass from taxis refusing to stop for them, clerks following them in department stores, from being racial profiled by police on street corner stops, from landlords refusing to show them an apartment, or being denied a promotion. The mixed race designation doesn't magically make disappear the countless other racial sleights and indignities that are tormenting reminders that race still does matter, and matter a lot to many Americans. Indeed, from the moment that Obama tossed his hat in the presidential rink a year ago, the mantra of the press and the public has been, "Is America ready for a black president?" Not "Is America ready for a mixed race president?" The equally incessant mantra is that Obama if elected will make history as America's first black president not the first mixed race president. That tells much about the still frozen public attitudes and perceptions about race and politics in America. The deepest part of America's racial fault has always been and still remains the black and white divide. This has spawned legions of vile but durable racial stereotypes, fears, and antagonisms. Black males have been the special target of the negative typecasting. They've routinely been depicted as crime prone, derelict, sexual menaces, and chronic underachievers. There are slightly more than 6 million persons that self-identify themselves as mixed race in America. The number of persons with a black and white parent is a minuscule less that one half of one percent.By contrast, African-Americans (mixed or not) number more than forty million in America and make up about twelve percent of the population. The designation then of "mixed race" is so new, benign and amorphous it softens racial attitudes and dilutes racial hostility. It carries none of the negative racial baggage that black or African-American does. This is the big reason that scores of blacks have been frenzied over Obama's candidacy. They have turned out in record numbers in some primaries and have given his candidacy the greatest boost forward. They have been unabashed in saying that they back him with passion and fervor because he is black. It's hard to imagine that they'd cheer him with the same passion if he touted himself as a mixed race candidate. The thrill and pride for them is that a black man could beat the racial odds against blacks and scale the political heights.The stock line is that Obama's candidacy shows how far America has come in that a black man has a real shot at grabbing the top elected spot in the land. No one says that Obama's candidacy shows how far America has come in that a mixed race man can win the White House. If Obama does win the presidency the new line will be that it shows not just how far America has come on race (meaning racial attitudes toward blacks), but that America has finally arrived on race (meaning racial attitudes toward blacks). Substituting mixed race for black would not have the same meaning or significance to blacks or whites. If Obama grabs the White House, he'll claim it as a triumph for all Americans. Many blacks will claim it as a triumph for them. They'll both be right. Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new book is The Ethnic Presidency: How Race Decides the Race to the White House (Middle Passage Press, February 2008).

http://earlofarihutchinson.blogspot.com/

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is a nationally acclaimed author and political analyst. He has authored ten books; his articles are published in newspapers and magazines nationally in the United States. Three of his books have been published in other languages. He is also a social and political analyst and he appears on such TV programs as CNN, MSBC, NPR, The O'Reilly Show, American Urban Radio Network, and local Los Angeles television and radio stations as well. He is an associate editor at New America Media and a regular contributor to Black News.com, Alternet.com, BlackAmericaWeb.Com and the Huffington Post. He does a weekly commentary on KJLH Radio in Los Angeles.

Anonymous said...

Even though blacks may tend to have a natural advantage at creating resonant vocal tones, the very idea of singing opera is totally off their radar. Sure, there were big time black opera singers like Marian Anderson as far back as between the Wars, but black youths aren't interested in that kind of acting white anymore.

First of all Marian Anderson was not a big time opera singer. Any more than was Paul Robeson. Leontyne Price, Reri Grist, Kathleen Battle, and Jesse Norman were big time opera singers. Anderson and Robeson were concert singers at a time when concert singing was going out of fashion. Anderson only sang one role at the Met.

The idea that blacks have natural advantages in producing reonant vocal tones is quaint. Its like a belief in phlogiston. Years ago some people believed that the classical voice had something to do with the size and shape of the facial sinus cavities. Indeed my black vocal teacher - who taught a generation of black opera singers - thought that. If you belived in the importance of sinus cavities in resonance it was a short step to believing that blacks had bigger sinus cavities because their noses are wider.

This is now well understood to be nonsense. That's just not how the human voice works.

As it happens most of the eminent black opera singers have been sopranos. There have been a couple world class bass-baritones but few world class tenors. I don't think the numbers are large enough to warrant any firm conclusions. Blacks seem to have just about the same genetic where-with-all as Whites for opera - no more, no less.

It is no doubt true that black youths are less attracted to opera today than formerly. However that is true of white youths too. Opera is dying.

When I first became interested i opera one of my favorites was Tosca - a twentieth century opera. It was about fifty years old when I was a teenager. Today its about a hundred years old. There have been some operas written in the last fifty years including a couple others by Puccini but nothing as universally popular as Tosca. An art form that only produces a hit a century is in deep trouble

Verdi had to keep La Donne Mobile secret lest all the gondoliers sing it before the premiere. The Pope had to issue a Papal Bull about alter boys whistling Di Tanti Palpiti in church. America composers alone produced over two thosand original opera score in the nineteenth century.

Those days are forever gone. Black kids know that. White kids too.

Anonymous said...

Sailer is just posting this to troll the white nationalists who read his blog.

Anonymous said...

An even better example of the mulatto elite? It took me about 3 seconds to get that,prob most readers got it instantly.My only excuse is that he defines himself as Buh-Lack all the way,so I didnt immed. asociate him with mulattoes. I am speaking of course about Nipsey Russell.:)

n/a said...

blacks may tend to have a natural advantage at creating resonant vocal tones,

Why would you say that?

Blacks have smaller lungs and lower voice quality ("black speakers had greater frequency perturbation, significantly greater amplitude perturbation, and a significantly lower harmonics-to-noise ratio than did the white speakers").

Nor do blacks have deeper voices than whites, as is often claimed.

Anonymous said...

Black opera stars? How could you fail to mention Kathleen Battle?

testing99 said...

Steve, you're taking the exceptions and making them into the rule.

American Idol gets something like 22-25 million viewers. America's Got Talent much less. For Tiger Woods, there's Kobe Bryant. For Obama, Al Sharpton.

Other than white kids wanting to look/act tough, and plus 50 women following the latest tend on the tail end (not the wave) I don't see much enthusiasm for either a "Mulatto Elite" or much of Black Culture.

Jazz fans tend to be a small, wealthy white enclave, same as blue fans. It's enough for one niche radio station in the LA market with Jazz/Blues combined. KLON, 88.8. That's it. Heck classical KUSC has more reach.

In personal decisions, particularly in the West and North, whites have as little to do with Blacks as possible. I had more daily interaction with blacks on a much more deep level in New Orleans and Atlanta than I ever did in LA.

Heck, now white yuppies are laughing at Rap, look at SNL's "Chronic of Narnia" done in the hard, angry gangsta rap style, but about hanging out at the Coffee Bean and going to see Chronicles of Narnia.

Matt Parrott said...

Hah!

It's obvious that you're alluding to Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party presidential candidate!

Skip G. said...

The fashion world really loves the mulatto look, both Male and Female, AC&DC. The cover of Vogue, print ads, and European runways, they're everywhere.
Speaking of Tiger Woods, a headline in this weeks 'Onion' humor magazine reads:
"Man Who Used Stick To Roll Ball Into Hole In Ground Praised For His Courage."

Anonymous said...

To be fair, blacks lack of achievement in golf, tennis, and winter related olympic sports may owe primarily to the fact that it costs a hell of a lot of money just to practice. ESPECIALLY golf!
A basketball is a one-time purchase, and can last a long time. The courts are free.
In football, organized school teams provide all the equipment.

DAJ said...

Back in 1968, when the top American rock guitarist was Jimi Hendrix and top American tennis player was Arthur Ashe....

Whereas in 2008, the top two American female tennis players are Serena and Venus Williams.

J. said...

Steve Sailer's tendency to get even easy issues wrong is amusing. Virtually all of American music has been influenced by West African music, so to limit 'black' music to rap is inane. Most African-Americans do not even buy gangsta rap. The majority of purchasers of that genre are young white males. Meanwhile, black people are buying mainly Top 40, Neo-Soul and Hip Hop. Furthermore, Justin Timberlake, Fergie, Nelly Furtado, Counting Crows, Gwen Stefani, etc,, would be shocked (yes, shocked!) to learn from Steve Sailer that people of color are not part of their audience.

The majority of people of African ancestry, despite white, Indian, or Asian fotebears, consider themselves black because that is the way American society defines race. Otherwise, one ends up with situations like that of the fellow who considered himself 'mixed race,' but was beaten badly by racist cops for being (you guessed it) black, a while ago. Hutchinson is a conservative, but his analysis is correct in this instance.

The claim that only people of African descent who have a white parent are successful is false. 'Typical' American black folks make up most of the black middle and upper classes.

simon said...

j:
"The claim that only people of African descent who have a white parent are successful is false. 'Typical' American black folks make up most of the black middle and upper classes."

While this is true, it's also true that (a) the blacks White People Like are disproprtionately mixed-race and (b) many, though not most, of those 'typical American black folks' like Rev Wright are genetically mostly white.

Anonymous said...

J: The majority of people of African ancestry, despite white, Indian, or Asian fotebears, consider themselves black because that is the way American society defines race.

In the land J. resides in, where every jew from around the world can be a citizen, the Falasha of Ethiopia are, for some weird reason people can't put their finger on, not really considered jews at all by a sizeable section of society (remember the blood bank scandal years back, where the Falasha's donated blood was being dumped).

J. himself describes them on his blog not as jews, but something else:

"I went down almost to Jericho and then back to Pisgat Zeev and then to the road to Ramallah, the capital of the Palestinian authority. The soldiers in the roadblocks, mostly ugly African girls, sat chatting among themselves and could give me no directions, they had no idea at all where they were stationed."

J's tendency toward hypocrisy is amusing.

Truth said...

"it's also true that (a) the blacks White People Like are disproprtionately mixed-race and (b) many, though not most, of those 'typical American black folks' like Rev Wright are genetically mostly white."

Will Smith and Denzel Washington are arguably the world's two biggest movie stars right now. Samuel Jackson is arguably the world's most popular character actor. Which of them qualifies as 'disproportionately mixed race?'

This is true in terms of women, but not males. Yet the same sort of prejudice exists amongst whites:

Who was the last blonde, pale-skinned WASP'y white male movie star (Redford?) Who was the last dark 'earthy' Mediterrainian female movie star (Loren?)

Blode said...

"Virtually all of American music has been influenced by West African music, so to limit 'black' music to rap is inane. Most African-Americans do not even buy gangsta rap. The majority of purchasers of that genre are young white males. Meanwhile, black people are buying mainly Top 40, Neo-Soul and Hip Hop." -j

Those are interesting assertions but I don't quite know what to do with them. Sailer didn't mention "gangsta rap", he mentioned hip hop. And while the majority of the purchasers of the former genre (I'd love to know where to find such statistics) may be white, this still seems like a bit of a red herring when whites are probably about 80% of the music-buying public.

Sailer may have exaggerated some of the cultural patterns to make his point, but I still haven't figured out if you agree with his observation that things considered "too white" will be shunned by black youths.

"The majority of people of African ancestry, despite white, Indian, or Asian fotebears, consider themselves black because that is the way American society defines race."

I think that is part of the reason, but there are plenty of famous blacks who are only black because of conscious choice. European television had to inform watchers that the guy displayed on the screen when Douglas Wilder made international news was "considered black" in the US; otherwise people would have wondered, if the guy is Governor of Virginia and he's famous for being the first black in that job, why can't they find any pictures of him? If he had identified as white, he'd just be another governor. There are probably two hundred new ones every decade.

The one-drop rule which penalized people for being black is not in force any more. Can anyone think of any rules which reward people for being black?

No one is suggesting there be some kind of majority vote on who is black and who isn't. I know why anti-affirmative action people don't advocate it, but why don't pro-AA people? They probably should, if they believe themselves. According to the latter, racism hurts people who other people think are non-white. The percentage of people who think you are black or Latino or Aleut should determine the fraction of AA benefits you receive. Each time someone thinks Halle Berry is South Asian, or Claude Steele is Greek, or Tiger Woods is Southeast Asian, the thumb on the scale should lightened accordingly. Since things like hairstyles and skin tone would effect voting, each time you go to the hairdresser or tanning booth the poll should be taken again. A running total of the amount of potential racism suffered (PRS) by each person should be held by the Social Security Administration.

Another approach would be to assess actual racism suffered (ARS), by measuring a person's self-esteem. This, of course, would reveal that blacks have much lower ARS than any other ethnic group, and other groups need to have their self-esteem raised in order not to deprive the blacks, with their loads of PRS, from receiving their just AA rewards.

Or, we could just abolish affirmative action.

J. said...

Degree of white ancestry has nothing to do with achievement. In fact, many of the highest achieving black college and post-grad students are Africans from upper-class families.

The U.S. had its own blood segregation scandal, despite the blood typing methodology being invented by a black doctor. I would need to see evidence your anecdote about Israel is true before forming an opinion.

It would never cross my mind to declare people ugly or ignorant because they are black. Racists do that.

bigboy said...

J. said... “The majority of people of African ancestry, despite white, Indian, or Asian fotebears, consider themselves black because that is the way American society defines race. Otherwise, one ends up with situations like that of the fellow who considered himself 'mixed race,' but was beaten badly by racist cops for being (you guessed it) black, a while ago.”

I’m puzzled by this paragraph, which is confusing. Are you saying if this person didn’t consider himself mixed race but black he wouldn’t have been beaten by white racist police and would have avoided this situation? Or are you saying if you do not see yourself as black but are beaten by white racist cops that means you are now black?

Additionally, how is someone else’s definition of you more necessarily more accurate than how you define yourself simply because they may mistreat you?

“Hutchinson is a conservative, but his analysis is correct in this instance.”

Hutchinson is a left-liberal, which doesn’t make his analysis correct or incorrect. A person who writes for “Alternet,” “The Hufington Report,” and other liberal publications is not a conservative.

steve wood said...

There have been some operas written in the last fifty years including a couple others by Puccini

A neat trick, considering that he's been dead for 83 years.

but nothing as universally popular as Tosca.

No opera written in the last 50 years is as popular as any Puccini opera. "Nessun dorma" shows why. For non-operaphiles - that is, for 99% of the population - it's all about the melody, and they don't write melodies like that anymore.* Puccini had a genius for writing tunes that are ridiculously gorgeous. Anyone who doesn't get tears in his eyes the first time he hears "O mio babbino caro" has no soul.

Anyway, Steve, thanks for the clip. It was delightful and moving to see the audience's reaction, and it was particularly satisfying to watch the parade of expressions crossing Cowell's smug mug - from boredom to skepticism to surprised interest to slack-jawed amazement.

*As I believe Steve discussed some time ago, the same is true of Broadway musicals and popular music in general; we seem to have lost the ability to write beautiful melodies.

rob said...

J,

Anon is right. Given the history of stereotyping all Black Africans as dumb, and Black African women as ugly, it is shocking that you would contribute to those stereotypes types by referring to your co-ethnics as "ugly" and implying that they are dumb.

It is truly disgusting, and I would expect better from you. Why did you not just say "ugly soldiers?" Why was what you percieved as their "race" so important that you mentioned it?

simon said...

j:
"Degree of white ancestry has nothing to do with achievement. In fact, many of the highest achieving black college and post-grad students are Africans from upper-class families."

It's certainly true that upper-class black African immigrants are also disproportionately successful compared to most black Americans. This is unsurprising since they are upper-class to begin with! They have heredity and inherited resources on their side.

BTW Will Smith looks about half white to me. Contrast with eg Sidney Poitier. Denzel Washington may be a bit less than half white. Colin Powell, who is of Jamaican immigrant stock, maybe 2/3 white. Condi Rice looks mostly black though; and she is of African-American rather than African-immigrant upper-middle-class descent.

Neil Boyd Article said...

Neil Boyd is a very talented alumnus of the University of Missouri music department. The university commissioned an opera, _Corps of Discovery_ to celebrate the Lewis and Clark bicentennial and Boyd sang York in the premiere.

Anonymous said...

One other factor to consider is the increase in "mulatto" children.

Anonymous said...

Steve, there is nothing new about the mullato elite; how can they "return" when they never left?

When has it not been an advantage for a nonwhite person to physically resemple a white person?