Massachusetts's Deval Patrick: Our Next Affirmative Action President?

Anyone who has watched Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's recent book tour will see that white elites are still very willing to buy into the black oppression narrative. The tour for Patrick's memoir, A Reason to Believe: Lessons from an Improbable Life, included television appearances on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Real Time with Bill Maher, and the Today Show with Matt Lauer.

Virtually everyone in the media fawned over our post-racial governor. Jon Stewart asked Patrick if he were running for President. Matt Lauer asked him about the white racism he suffered during his campaign. Worst of all, Bill Maher compared Patrick and Barack Obama's elections to Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier to Major League Baseball.

But anyone who has done an honest reading of Deval Patrick's memoir will conclude that this is utter nonsense. In fact, the book contains many dubious claims of victimhood and some very unflattering facts—all of which was never mentioned during his televised appearances.

Moreover, an honest reading of Deval Patrick's book depends not on understanding Chicago, where Patrick is originally from, but the Boston area, where Patrick lived from high school through law school. Indeed, just as Steve Sailer has said that Barack Obama's Dreams From My Father depends upon readers knowing very little about Hawaii, so too does Patrick's memoir depend upon readers not knowing much about the Boston area and its circle of elites.

The Boston area has actually had a small, but cohesive black elite for generations— "Black Brahmins", we used to call them. They are invariably light-skinned and less inclined to associate with dark-skinned blacks.

Prior to the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Brahmins prided themselves on being privileged, not oppressed. They attended society functions, vacationed on Martha's Vineyard, and often hired Irish servants—just as the white Brahmins did.

According to Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell, a Black Brahmin once confronted him in a local restaurant in order to put him in his place. "I want you to know, I'm a fourth-generation Bostonian," the man told the 6'9 Russell. "And we will never accept you."

In the post-civil rights era, it's no longer PC for black elites to talk to dark-skinned blacks in such a manner. But that is a classic Black Brahmin attitude, and it's no wonder Bill Russell chose to live in a distant white suburb over living in Boston.

Deval Patrick, like Obama, was not born into the black elite, and only came to join it later. However, like Obama, he still feels an inordinate need to claim the historical injustices of black America as his own.

Indeed, Governor Patrick frequently reminds Massachusetts voters of how he came up the hard way on the South Side of Chicago. He even highlighted the fact in his inauguration speech last January.

Growing up in rough times and rough circumstances taught me not to just curl up and wait for better times. No, what I learned was that optimism and effort, hope and hard work, is the only way to climb out of a hole.[Governor Deval Patrick's Second Inaugural Address, January 6, 2011]

In fact, this is only partially true of Deval Patrick.

Certainly, Patrick's Chicago days were not easy ones. The Patrick Family was poor, but not desperately so. Their difficulties mostly stemmed from his father having abandoned them when Deval was only four years old.

Patrick spent much of his preteen years with his mother and grandparents. These appear to be very lonely years for him. Young Deval was a poor athlete, and often got picked dead last for sports teams at school and in the neighborhood.

The neighborhood kids also teased Deval for being light-skinned, a trait he inherited from his Irish great-grandfather.

Laurdine "Pat" Patrick, Deval's father, was a darker-skinned jazz musician who only intermittently appeared in his son's life. He was also a sports fanatic and militant black nationalist who frequently criticized young Deval for his lack of athleticism and lack of authentic blackness—both obvious sources of insecurity for Deval.

However, Deval Patrick's rough experiences on the South Side largely ended after he won a minority scholarship to Milton Academy, a prestigious boarding school on the outskirts of Boston, Massachusetts that boasts many illustrious alumni like T.S. Eliot, Buckminster Fuller, and Robert F. Kennedy.

Milton Academy was clearly a life-changing opportunity for Deval Patrick, and a difficult transition to make. But one is immediately impressed by the many kindnesses the Milton faculty and students showed him.

In the most touching scene in the book, Patrick describes how a fatherly Latin teacher became the first adult male to ever tell him that he loved him. "I let it wash over me", he says of the moment.

Patrick confesses that he has always felt like something of an "orphan" in life. But the people at Milton Academy became something of a foster family for him, including a Black Brahmin parent who became his "surrogate mother".

Milton Academy was obviously the best thing that ever happened to Deval Patrick, an experience he is both grateful for, and resentful of—a common reaction of Affirmative Action recipients toward their benefactors.

"I was expected to absorb and display the ways and habits of this monochromatic culture," Patrick explains. "I was welcome in that new world, it seemed, so long as I did not bring too much of my old world along."

The seeds of Patrick's resentments toward Milton Academy were at least partially planted by his father. Pat Patrick was bitterly opposed to his son attending Milton because "he thought the school would make me white". He even refused to sign his son's application to the school because he "feared that I would forget that ours was a heritage of struggle and pain for which whites were to blame."

Pat Patrick was a saxophonist for the Sun Ra Arkestra, a popular Afro-centric jazz troupe that wore ancient Egyptian attire and preached Afrofuturism. Sun Ra, the band's leader, claimed to be a missionary from Saturn who was sent to Earth to save the human race, or at least the black members of it.

Pat Patrick was a devoted disciple of Sun Ra who tried hard—and apparently, with some success—to transmit an Afrocentric worldview to his son, Deval.

"In a manifestation of his militancy, [my father] associated himself with ancient Egyptian culture and took pride that advances in science, engineering, architecture, and art originated among Africans who looked like him. I shared that pride. "

Of course, black Africans have made no such contributions to civilization. But that's a subject of another article.

Deval Patrick also feared that his father would embarrass him the few times he visited the Milton campus. But he also desperately sought his father's approval, as every adolescent boy does.

Steve Sailer has written about how Barack Obama has greatly embellished, if not outright invented, the racial indignities he claims to have suffered while attending a prestigious prep school in Honolulu.

In a similar way, it appears that Deval Patrick greatly exaggerates his "rough experiences" at Milton Academy.

"I cannot count the number of times I sat at the dinner table of a classmate and listened respectfully to a parent's dissertation on the causes of black poverty or family breakdown, only to be asked by that parent if he or she could touch my hair, wondering what it felt like."

It's hard to believe this even happened once, never mind countless times. This would be a major faux pas for a very manners-conscious crowd. How did Patrick find the time to ditch the campus dining hall and have dinner at the homes of all these rich white folks eager to touch his afro?

Patrick also claims that the local police constantly harassed him whenever he walked off campus to patronize a nearby convenience store.

This claim too is simply not believable. Milton students still routinely walk the same street to that same convenience store, and it is very easy to spot them.

Moreover, if Patrick had really been constantly harassed by the local police, then why did he decide to settle down and raise a family within walking distance of the Milton campus? He has lived there for over 20 years, and remains well-liked by his neighbors, some of whom are my relatives.

Despite such dubious complaints, Deval Patrick was far more accepted at Milton Academy than he ever had been on Chicago's South Side.

Indeed, in true Black Brahmin fashion, Deval Patrick eventually assimilated to Establishment Waspdom. "I had broken the code," he boasts of his Milton days. "I could out-WASP the WASPs."

Today, Deval Patrick divides his time between his off-campus colonial manse, and a large estate in a small all-white hamlet in the Berkshires.

Curiously, Patrick says comparatively little about his experience at Harvard and Harvard Law School. But he writes at length about his post-college year doing volunteer work in Sudan.

Pat Patrick had made many trips to the African "Motherland" and Deval's decision to go there seemed to be motivated both by a desire to seek his father's approval and to assert his blackness.

"I wrote to [my father] from Africa and described how rich and inspiring my experiences were, and this embossed my credentials with him. He stopped questioning whether I was black enough."

At this point, you might think that Deval Patrick should be able to put his insecurities behind him—but not quite.

"I stink at standardized tests" Patrick admits before confirming what had long been rumored to be true—that he flunked the bar exam not once, but twice.

Such struggles with the bar would have hobbled the legal career of most aspiring lawyers, but not Deval Patrick. He was made a partner at a prestigious Boston law firm at the age of 34.

After reading A Reason To Believe, it seems obvious that Deval Patrick's life has been much smoother than he would like to admit.

Still, despite being the twice elected governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick still sees himself as "someone from a despised quarter of society" struggling against the Man.

"The curse of being black," Patrick complains, "is always having to wonder whether the things that go wrong in your life are on account of your race."

The actual truth: many of the good things in Deval Patrick's life—the fancy schools, the plum political and legal appointments, even the governorship of Massachusetts—all were opportunities he attained precisely because he is black.

The real curse that Deval Patrick labors under is the pressure to convince others, and even himself, that he has struggled, and continues to struggle against the very white power structure that, in reality, has given him most everything he has ever achieved.

The next Affirmative Action President? Stranger things have happened—ask the Obamas.

Matthew Richer (email him) is a writer living in Massachusetts. He is the former American Editor of Right NOW magazine.