John Derbyshire: “The Great Encounters: When Races First Met”


American Renaissance


Published on Sep 16, 2017

The 2013 American Renaissance Conference.

John Derbyshire, the popular Taki's Magazine and VDare columnist, gives a very informative talk about the first encounters between people of different races. He notes that his was the last generation of Europeans to grow up in a monoracial country—he did not see a black person until he was in his teens.

Most of the first encounters happened before recorded history. Genetic studies now show that at one point Australian aborigines received an infusion of genetic material from Indians who had crossed the ocean. It may well be that lost Japanese fishermen could even have washed up on Australia, but we know nothing of it.

When races encountered each other in historical times, people were invariably struck by physical differences. The Chinese word for whites was “ghost” because Europeans seemed so pale. In one noted encounter, a Japanese described to Chinese the Europeans with whom he was traveling: “Physically they are close to beasts. They cannot speak or write Chinese.”

First encounters sometimes led to race war. During the 1675-1678 King Phillip’s War in Massachusetts, for example, both the English colonists and the Indians fought with the explicit goal of extermination. Mr. Derbyshire notes, however, that the really great wars that have left their marks on history have been intratribal wars: the First and Second World Wars, the American Civil War, the Chinese civil wars.

Mr. Derbyshire concludes by pointing out that we can still have first encounters. In many countries children, especially, may have never seen someone of a different race. He shares the story of an incident in China, in which a small boy stared intently at him as they went up in an elevator. Mr. Derbyshire got out at his floor, and as the doors closed, he heard the child say—in Chinese, of course—”What a big nose.”


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