Undercover Black Man, R.I.P.

(Note, April 3: the discussion continues. See in particular the photo of Mills from the NYT’s obituary.)

David Mills, “Undercover Black Man,” a successful TV writer who made a second career of seeking ways to harm me and got David Horowitz to expel me from FrontPage Magazine for my “racist and objectionable” writings, is dead, having collapsed on the set of a cable television program he was working on.

(written from a remote computer; my little Internet problem is not yet fixed.)

- end of initial entry -

April 2, 11 p.m.

Garrick writes:

From the New York Times:

David Mills, an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer for crime dramas like “The Wire” on HBO and “Homicide: Life on the Streets” on NBC died on Tuesday in New Orleans, a press representative for HBO said. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that Mr. Mills died from a brain aneurysm. HBO is about to broadcast the debut of a new series, “Treme,” on which Mr. Mills worked as a writer and producer.

David Mills literally dropped dead from a brain aneurysm. One cause of this is high blood pressure which many blacks suffer from. At the same time, he looked barely black to me, yet he made a career out of being black by writing and producing black themed crime dramas for television. To me this is a man with raging contradictions inside and guess who he took his pain out on via the internet? White people who did not show sufficient respect for black people. A bit like the Obama story.

You can see photos of Mills on the internet.

Howard Sutherland writes:

I just read in the NYT, which carries his obit today, that your old interlocutor the Undercover Black Man died unexpectedly in New Orleans while working on a new TV show, Treme. He was only 48. Apparently, when he wasn’t fingering you to Horowitz, David Mills was an Emmy-winning TV writer.

Happy Easter!

Dan G. writes:

Regarding the untimely death of David Mills: I’m not one to disrespect the recently deceased, but I was struck upon seeing a photo of the man in this article at his distinctly non-black appearance. I now truly understand his moniker. He probably had less than 25% African DNA and looked about as “black” as the average Bulgarian. Curious, then, that he identified so heavily with blackness and black culture.

All this is not to disrespect the man. Whatever his flaws, he was one of the few “black” writers willing to acknowledge the realities of hbd and engage with those who recognize them.

Ironic—and perhaps to his credit—that his penultimate blog posting was a criticism of Obama’s narcissism.

Dan G. continues:

Oh, I just opened the article you linked to see a picture of Mr. Mills looking slightly more black. Perhaps he was 50/50, with the white side predominating in his appearance. Anyway, he is beyond race at this point. R.I.P.

Mark Jaws writes:

David Mills a “black” man? If he was anymore undercover he would have been a snowman. I’d like to see a picture of Mr. Mills’s parents. I know of three instance in which Italians have feigned being Hispanic just to get promoted or into the college of their choice. It is not beyond the realm of possibility—particularly in this age—for a white man to fake being black, just for the doors it will fling open.

LA replies:

According to Mills, there is no question of his family’s racial identity. He cited the way his father was held back in his career as a black man as justification for the affirmative action that he, Mills the younger, said he had received in his own life.

Robert Vandervoort writes:

You’re very generous to give Mills a Rest in Peace, given what he did to you and your views.

Paul K. writes:

The obituary is fascinating. I took a look at his blog a while back and never would have guessed he was a successful writer. It all seemed so trivial. Then, the episode when he curried favor with you, investigating your genealogy, etc., indicated that he was looking for validation from you, in particular, as someone he respected because you speak honestly about race. When he felt you weren’t giving him his due, he became angry and set out to show he could damage you in some way. That’s the kind of behavior I would expect from a loser, not someone who had received recognition for his talents.

LA replies:

Yes, good point. And at one point when I said that his bringing me down at FP seemed to be the greatest achievement of his life, Mills retorted that he was a successful writer and boasted that he had made (if I remember this correctly) over a million dollars.

Here is my last entry on Mills, from September 2009. It is a reply to him when, after a couple of years he suddenly showed up and made a contribution to VFR, and also hinted that he was holding over me the threat of revealing a scandalous incident in my family 90 years ago.

April 3

A reader writes:

One thing that should be kept in mind about Mills is that he had a history of trying to do Internet mischief to “white nationalists” both before and after his interaction with you. He inaugurated his blog with his “outing” of Ian Jobling and later uncovered the identity of a white man who had put up a site purporting to be by a black nationalist (if I recall correctly). He also tried to link the author of the Thug Report with “racist” sites based on links on that blog. I only mention these unpleasant matters because I don’t believe his claim that he inaugurated his campaign against you only because he felt you had insulted him.

LA replies:

His “outing” of Jobling occurred, as I remember, in December 2006. When he did that, I told him that writers may have perfectly legitimate reasons to conceal their identity which ought to be respected, and that his exposure of Jobling was unethical. That ended our friendly correspondence which had begun in June 2006 with his sending me the historical material on my family that he had discovered on the Web.

David B. writes:

The thread about the death of the Undercover Black Man reminded me of an old expression, “Passing for White.” Before around 1965, blacks would call it “passing.”

Note that we don’t hear this expression any more. A character like Mills doesn’t need to “Pass” and goes to the other extreme.

LA replies:

Leaving aside Mills’s sometimes dishonest and unethical campaigns to expose and harm white conservatives, I don’t see that there was anything wrong in his stated racial identity as a black person. What, after all, is a person of mixed black and white racial background supposed to do? A person in America must have some identity, and the reality of the one-drop rule means that partly black people are, generally, “black.” So let’s criticize Mills for the bad things he did, not for the fact of his racial ancestry—that he was of mixed race but called himself black—which was outside his control.

LA writes:

The NY Times obituary on Mills describes him as “[a] light-skinned black man whose racial identity was not always evident to those around him.” Well, that’s interesting. If his color and features were so non-black that some people who knew him didn’t think he was black, then I suppose that it could be argued, as some VFR readers have done all along, that there was something dishonest in his designating himself as black. But that still leaves unanswered the question, how should he have designated himself? His parents were “black,” no matter how lightskinned they were. He comes from a “black” family. So he is “black” too. If he called himself white, he would have been criticized for that too, while terms like mulatto, quadroon, and octoroon are not used in modern America. Consider the fact that Obama is universally described as black, though he is half-white. The one-drop rule rules, and probably always will.

LA continues:

Here is a photo of MIlls from the Times obit:

David Mills, right, working on the HBO mini-series “The Corner” in 2000 with Robert Colesberry, center, and David Simon.

Well this does bring me up short, as in this photo he doesn’t look black at all, or, rather, looks black in only a residual fashion. So it must have been strange for Mills to go through life, having come from black parents and thinking of himself as black, but not looking black and not being thought by others as black. No wonder he called himself Undercover Black Man.

Also, to qualify what I said above, there was another available option for Mills’s racial identity which would arguably have been more honest than calling himself black: he could have described himself as racially mixed, as Tiger Woods does.

April 5

Timothy A. writes:

The photos of David Mills and the discussion of his racial identification as black brought to mind a relative of mine (a cousin of my father) who I discovered while doing genealogical research on the ancestry.com website (a site that David Mills apparently frequented, judging by the documents that he sent you—draft cards, ships’ manifests, etc.).

This relative, a first generation American, daughter of German immigrants, married a mixed race man in about 1915. For several generations, this man’s ancestors had been listed as either mulatto or black on census reports—going back to a freed slave who married an Irish immigrant woman in Ohio. To judge by pictures of this man’s brother in his old age, he was about as white in appearance as David Mills.

The children and grandchildren of this marriage of a mixed race man and German woman identified as white on census reports, took white spouses, and never looked back.

A white identity was something to be sought at that time. Nowadays, apparently not so much.

LA replies:

“This relative, a first generation American, daughter of German immigrants … “

Thank you for using the term “first generation American” correctly. It means the first generation in that family born in America. It does NOT mean an immigrant who came to America—which is the way everyone uses the term today, resulting in such absurdities as, “He was a first generation immigrant.” Leading to the further absurdities of second generation immigrants, and third generation immigrants …

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 31, 2010 09:22 PM | Send

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