Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A “Very Private Woman”: Elizabeth Wright Dies


By Nicholas Stix

Only three days ago, I noted that I had learned from Elizabeth Wright’s blog that she had entered a hospice, and elsewhere, that she was dying of cancer. Today I learn, from Jared Taylor, that she has passed from this vale of tears. It turns out that she was as much a mystery to Jared, who had published her over the years, as she was to me, a total stranger. It also turns out that she was already dead, at the time of my blog item, having died some time prior to August 19.

[Jared:] It would not be an exaggeration to say that I have been fascinated by Elizabeth Wright ever since I became aware of her many years ago, when Issues and Views was still a paper publication. I discovered that Elizabeth had a piercingly clear understanding of race, and wrote in an uncompromising style. We corresponded, and AR posted several of her essays—and yet I never really knew her. Elizabeth wanted it that way.

We spoke on the phone only a few times, and she spoke as she wrote—clearly and vigorously. And yet she kept me at a distance. The last time we spoke I was in New York City, where she lived, and I practically begged her to let me meet her. She declined. She wasn’t keen on meeting people, she said.

There was a great deal I wanted to know about Elizabeth Wright. How did a black woman arrive at a view of race so similar to my own? There is usually a story about how whites become dissenters. There must be a whole book about her. And who were her friends? What did her family think of her views? Whenever I asked in passing about her personal life in our e-mail correspondence, she politely deflected my questions.

I therefore know almost nothing about this remarkable and very private woman. I don’t know how old she was, whether she was married or had children, what kind of education she had, or what her interests were aside from smashing taboos. And I know nothing of the price she paid—it must have been very high—for her uncompromising defense of what she held to be true.

Anyone who could write and think as Elizabeth did could have achieved prominence, but that would have required her to bow to convention. Instead, she did that old-fashioned thing now so rare it comes almost as a shock; she put principle first.
Perhaps if I had tried harder, Elizabeth would have let me into her life. But perhaps not. I knocked, but she kept the door closed.

Therefore, much as I admire Elizabeth Wright, I know her only through her writing, and in tribute to her I can offer readers nothing more than a selection from some of her columns. I think that is what she would have wanted.

Rest in peace, Elizabeth. Your friends you never met—and I am sure I am one of a great many—will be poorer without you.

I strongly suspect that in her youth, Wright read George S. Schuyler’s autobiography, Black and Conservative, though she doubtless had other influences, possibly including Zora Neale Hurston, as well. But Wright and the middle-aged and older Schuyler had very simpatico sensibilities.

Her August 19 Obituary at The Booker Washington Society follows.

Sad news…

Elizabeth Wright, for whom the Booker T. Washington Society’s prestigious Wright Award, is named, passed away this week.

Though she was a private person, working in relative obscurity in Brooklyn, her influence has been profound. For over twenty five years, she wrote and published well-researched articles, analyses and columns in the Quarterly she founded, Issues & Views “to advocate self-help and business enterprise in the black community.

In recent years, she made Issues & Views freely available throughout the world via the Internet, The quarterly’s byline aptly stated, “…Reporting from the Frontline of Dissent since 1985,” but it doesn’t do justice to the discipline and courage it takes to rise every day to challenge a mind-set that promotes personal rights without personal responsibility.

In recognition of her many years toiling in trenches that often led her in spirited and clear defense of the vision and values that Dr. Booker T. Washington espoused, in 2006, the BTW Society created the Elizabeth Wright Award, named in her honor and to be awarded annually to one “unsung hero” who, like her, has demonstrated a long and continued passion for preserving the vision, values and virtues of Dr. Booker T. Washington.

To view Wright Award recipients, click here.

I checked the other day, and again today, and found that The Pretend Encylopedia, aka Wikipedia, has no entry for Wright. I’d write one, but some of the wikithugs have a written agreement to delete anything by or about me.

At Ohio Republic on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Harold Thomas paid tribute to Wright.

Elizabeth Wright

Elizabeth Wright publishes Issues & Views, which she describes as “A black conservative's place for independent thinking and common sense -- A little oasis for those who got caught up in the momentum of the civil rights movement, but failed to discern the false from the true.” A resident of New York City, Ms. Wright began Issues & Views as a hardcopy newsletter “to counter notions of victimization and collective entitlement prevalent in the black community.” She writes that her “conservatism was derived from the wisdom of earlier generations of American blacks, like Booker T. Washington, who attempted to steer their people towards greater economic self-reliance. The newsletter also challenged ideologues who misused ‘civil rights,’ in order to deny basic rights to others and to impose politically correct mandates. Editorials were committed to principles of free speech, with the First Amendment paramount.” Like last year’s honoree H. K. Edgerton, she has defended respect for Confederate heritage.

She is also outspoken in support of free speech and a sensible foreign policy. Her comment on the Wikileaks controversy neatly ties both issues together:

We should view the WikiLeaks controversy in the larger context of American foreign policy. Rather than worry about the disclosure of embarrassing secrets, we should focus on our delusional foreign policy. We are kidding ourselves when we believe spying, intrigue, and outright military intervention can maintain our international status as a superpower while our domestic economy crumbles in an orgy of debt and monetary debasement.

Most importantly, her message stresses self-reliance and truth over victimization, “political correctness” and hatred. A message that applies equally to everyone, regardless of race, but one that is especially needed and wanted from the black community.

Links to Elizabeth Wright’s Work Available on the ‘Net

Issues & Views - The Blog: A black conservative's place for independent thinking and common sense -- A little oasis for those who got caught up in the momentum of the civil rights movement, but failed to discern the false from the true

Issues & Views: The Web Site (via The Wayback Machine)

I extend my heartfelt condolences to Miss Wright’s family and friends.


Mercurius Aulicus said...

Have you seen this ( )?

romanreb said...

I met Elizabeth Wright on a Confederate email list back in the mid nineties. I enjoyed her posts and was surprised and delighted when she one day called me on the phone. We talked for over an hour--her voice, I remember, was so much at odds with the strident tone her posts frequently took when someone offended her with nonsense. Her voice was warm and fun and, in a way, joyful. We continued to correspond privately, sporadically, occasionally in a flurry and often not connecting for months. She always remembered all my children and my husband and what they were involved in. I am a devout Catholic. I don't know what, if any, creed Elizabeth espoused. Ultimately, I told her that although we'd not meet in this world, I hoped we could sit together in Heaven and sip mint juleps or lemonade and talk for many hours. She was amenable, so I am holding onto that.