Sep 7, 2011

Elizabeth Wright Held Controversial Views on Race By Samuel Newhouse / Brooklyn Daily Eagle


Elizabeth Wright Held Controversial Views on Race

By Samuel Newhouse
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

BROOKLYN — A conservative writer and editor who lived in seclusion and said her work was dedicated against "notions of victimization and collective entitlement prevalent in the black community" recently died in Brooklyn.

Doris Elizabeth Wright, who wrote under the name Elizabeth D. Wright, died on Aug 11 at the Calvary Hospice in Bay Ridge at 74. The cause of death was believed to be breast cancer, said a close friend. The blogosphere erupted with the news. The Booker T. Washington Society in Vermont, of which Wright was a founding member, posted the news first, followed quickly by American Renaissance, a self-described "racialist" magazine, and then on, an anti-racist blog, under the headline, "Rot in Hell!"

They accused Wright of being "one of those utterly despicable black conservatives that didn't just cover for white racism, she was a total apologist for white supremacists."

Booker T. Washington Society President Ronald Court bristled at hearing Wright lumped in with racists. "My goodness, have they no shame?" he said. "I've never heard her say anything in relation to herself, that she was self-loathing. Why would she be?"

Wright, who lived in the Bronx, founded the quarterly newsletter Issues & Views in 1985. Around 2000, she converted the newsletter into a blog.

Well-known minority conservatives had articles printed by her newspaper and referenced her work. Stanford University senior fellow Thomas Sowell had pieces printed in the newsletter. George Mason University Professor Walter E. Williams was an advisor to the newsletter.

"She was matter-of-fact," William Craft, the author and publisher of Phoenix Publications, who was a friend of Wright's. "Very matter-of-fact, with statements she made and, that's something a lot of our people can't handle, the truth. They'd rather deal with fantasy than face reality."

Describing the mission of Issues & Views, Wright wrote, "Although reflecting a conservative and often libertarian perspective, it was never rightwing, and did not affiliate with any political party. The newsletter's 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." Wright's name was sufficiently well known that in "The End of Racism," Dinesh D'Souza included Wright in a list of some of America's most prominent black conservatives. He wrote, "The only people who are seriously confronting black cultural deficiencies and offering constructive proposals for dealing with them are members of a group we can call the reformers. Many of them are conservatives such as Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell, Thomas Sowell … Elizabeth Wright." founder Daryle Lamont Jenkins said that Booker T. Washington's era was a century ago and that his ideals do not apply well in the modern era.

"A lot of people could read Elizabeth Wright and get a little confused about where exactly she was coming from," he said.

"Whenever I'm critical of the Booker T. Washington conservatives, this is not an attack on Booker T. Washington," Jenkins said. "If you try to suggest that we just need to be second-class citizens today and live with that — that is dangerous."

"The only blogs that are paying tributes to her, in one of the most eerie situations that I've seen all week, are all white supremacists."

A Recluse? said that Wright was a shut-in. American Renaissance writer Jared Taylor said she refused to meet with him in person although he asked several times. Craft said he had only met her four times. Court also never met her.

"I've never met her personally. When I was in New York City and in the Bronx I called her," he recalled of a conversation in 2008 during Barack Obama's presidential campaign. "She said 'No thank you, I'm just so frustrated with what's going on,' and she didn't explain that much. She never explained that. Evidently she became a recluse."

But Cartrell Gore, 59, of Flatbush, a high school teacher and local politician, was friends with Wright for 20 years. He said she was not a recluse, and that neighbors knew her as "a nice old lady." "She grew up on welfare [in Virginia]," Gore said. "Her siblings decided to stay on welfare, and she decided to work for a living. So because of that when she left for college, she never looked back or contacted her family after that."

Gore also denied that Wright was racist.

"She was very concerned about her race to the extent that I knew. She was antagonistic to some of what she called hucksters, she often used that term, who had solutions that she called meaningless. To that she was hostile."

The office of the chief medical examiner said that Wright's body is currently "on hold" in a city mortuary in Brooklyn because she apparently had no financial assets, and will likely be eventually buried in Potter's Field.

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