Talk:Henry Louis Gates Jr.

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Lede bias critique and praise: Use the talk page[edit]

That content was there before editor x arrived here. A white non-scholar by what authority to call someone a no. 1 Black scholar in the lede, yet the top African-American Scholars cannot critique this in the lede. So let me clarrify top African scholars in Gates fields see him as a Uncle Tom. but that doesnt suit the lede? but the praise of him does? The minute you want to praise someone as a No.1 Black scholar you are introducing a bias, to balance it it needs to be challenged if he is well known for not being so. How can a white person decide who is the no. 1 Black scholar? See other bios, Malcolm X, Farrakhan, and everyone else. If no critique is allowed then no priase. Either or but not praise without critique.

Criticism and praise Criticism and praise should be included if they can be sourced to reliable secondary sources, so long as the material is presented responsibly, conservatively, and in a disinterested tone. Do not give disproportionate space to particular viewpoints; the views of tiny minorities should not be included at all. Care must be taken with article structure to ensure the overall presentation and section headings are broadly neutral. Beware of claims that rely on guilt by association, and look out for biased or malicious content.--Halqh حَلَقَة הלכהሐላቃህ (talk) 15:52, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

The solution is acceptable --Halqh حَلَقَة הלכהሐላቃህ (talk) 18:40, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

NPOV issue: Slavery Blame-Game Controversy[edit]

The following excerpt from the "Slavery Blame-Game Controversy" section of the article does not conform to wikipedia's NPOV requirement:

Other critics feel it is correct to consider all Europeans and their descendants in North America collectively responsible for the slave trade carried out by some Europeans and North Americans but feel this does not apply to Africans.

If the preceding assertion is indeed true, then it needs a quote that demonstrates this. The quote that is used to support this assertion only conveys the critic's belief that categorizing all Africans as a single homogeneous entity is troubling, and explains why. There is nothing in the quote that suggests any critics consider it right to hold all Europeans and their descendants in North America collectively accountable for the slave trade:

The viewpoint that “Africans” enslaved “Africans” is obfuscating if not troubling. The deployment of “African” in African history tends to coalesce into obscurantist constructions of identities that allow scholars, for instance, to subtly call into question the humanity of “all” Africans. Whenever Asante rulers sold non-Asantes into slavery, they did not construct it in terms of Africans selling fellow Africans. They saw the victims for what they were, for instance, as Akuapems, without categorizing them as fellow Africans. Equally, when Christian Scandinavians and Russians sold war captives to the Islamic people of the Abbasid Empire, they didn’t think that they were placing fellow Europeans into slavery. This lazy categorizing homogenizes Africans and has become a part of the methodology of African history; not surprisingly, the Western media’s cottage industry on Africa has tapped into it to frame Africans in inchoate generalities allowing the media to describe [a] local crisis in one African state as [an] “African” problem.
— Dr. Akurang-Parry. "Ending the Slavery Blame". Ghana Web. 

If there is no citable source to verify that some collection of noteworthy critics hold the views represented in the bolded excerpt, then it must be removed from the article. At the very least, the quote should be prefaced with an accurate assertion that doesn't distort or draw POV conclusions with no supporting evidence. -- (talk) 09:46, 1 February 2011 (UTC)

To the ip editor. I dont think you understand NPOV. There is no such thing as a single source which is NPOV. NPOV is only achieved by representing all sides with balance. So I do not know how Parry could have violated a NPOV. Is Gates opinion on slavery a NPOV? I dont think so. It is a white washed excuse which would never be tolerated had a similar remark been made about Jewish involvement in Nazi Germany.
controversy: Controversy is a state of prolonged public dispute or debate, usually concerning a matter of opinion. This is the best way to describe this section.I am struggling to find any Afrocentric or Pan-Africanist scholar that agrees with gates and didnt throw a fit. I do not think controversy is limited to that silly arrest over-blown incident, that is just trivial and insulting (National Enquirer type goings on). And what i hate about wiki is this reliable source business. Because most of the outrage is seen in so-called self-published, 'unreliable', not verifiable outlets online that African actually own. I do not think New York times represents this Black pov. Part of institutional racism. The quote by Akurang-Parry which was deleted I think was in direct relation to Gates hence why I added it. --Halqh حَلَقَة הלכהሐላቃህ (talk) 10:29, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
The quote is still in the article, but I moved it to a footnote as a temporary measure. Unfortunately, there are few, if any, good reliable sources being used for this section, and it needs to either be fixed or removed. Per our policies and guidelines, self-published and blog sources, such as those found at,,, and, are not exactly the best fit for Wikipedia. If this so-called "controversy" has any merit, there will certainly be reliable sources on the subject. Please do some research and find them. Please also keep in mind Wikipedia:Coatrack. This is not the place to dispute the statement that "90 percent of those shipped to the New World were enslaved by Africans and then sold to European traders". In any case, that statement is made by historians John Thornton and Linda Heywood of Boston University, and any dispute should be taken up with them. Viriditas (talk) 22:47, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
I see no issue with aholocaust it is used widely on wiki. it is 100% authority of slavery, and one of the only quality places for these view points. Shame Asante article didnt get published by New York times also- I wonder why. or are you saying john thornton is reliable but Asante, Parry is not? "Reliable sources" like who?. Show me one article in the new York Times, BBC, that defends Africa against "90% did xyz". So I find it a little bit tricky when someone says "If it is controversial you should show me reliable" when reliable means WHITE or when Whites think it is controversial. like some arrest. It is like "Show me a reliable source for institutional racism from within the institution, that I am saying is racist" Kant and Hume are also reliable sources "Africa has no history" - reliable liars. And to reply to this coatrack, I restate Parry replied directly to Gates. Hence why it is relevant here. The link is sufficient in the interest of compromise. And I am always fighting this fight btw. B.c if it was as you say it was. their would be ZERO Npov in this section. Consider Asante, et al are the leading critiques of Gates. So NPOV comes above self-published. --Halqh حَلَقَة הלכהሐላቃህ (talk) 23:34, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Which reliable secondary source best describes this alleged controversy? Viriditas (talk) 01:38, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
Allow me to reiterate what is the principle issue here. NPOV is king above all other considerations. Gate is allowed (democratically) to make his apologetic white washed statements. There is a accurate historical response from many African Scholars (as evident in his own statement which I just added "Many African Americans blame..." clearly it is a controversial topic, do not need to prove the obvious. "blame game" is controversial. It is a hot topic. See the warnings on wiki in every slavery section. Gates makes his uninformed ahistorcial opinion (he is not an expert on slavery). But that is not the point. the point is there was a reply which critiqued his stance Parry being one of the best. Unfortunately New York times didnt run their article (It is not a mystery why Gates is so supported as the "King of Black academia". None the less they did reply. it would be dishonest an a violation of NPOV to not have the reply. If (as I stated before) reliability is defined by those with power (N Times, BBC, CNN) then we would have no NPOV. And gates can say Africa is full of monkeys and nothing else. The reply from authentic African historians will not be in books published by penguin and Random House. I also think the new remarks best sum up the issue, not what Thornton thinks, It is what gates thinks that matters. and now we see why Parry comment is critical but you have reduced it to "criticized Gates for classifying Africans as a group" That is not the only issue.--Halqh حَلَقَة הלכהሐላቃህ (talk) 08:19, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
You are welcome to your opinions, however, I have asked a very simple question: which reliable secondary source best describes this alleged controversy? Please answer that question only in your response. If you need to do some research, say so. Viriditas (talk) 08:26, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
I do not need to answer it because it is a Nitpicking , wikipedia Fine Point question. It asking me to go and waste time researching the obvious, like the reader doesn't know what a controversial issue is. And you do not have to keep posting messages to my page as i have a working watch list.
I should say thank Q, I am vindicated for all i have stated above "I am not sure why Gates has gone out of his way to assuage white guilt in America. I hope that's not the price a black man must pay in order to write an op-ed in the New York Times" - reliable source and reliable author repeating my issue. So I guess this racist bias in so-called reliable source is clear now. As for your tag, most people who reply will be associated with the topic (what do you expect)?--Halqh حَلَقَة הלכהሐላቃህ (talk) 08:38, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
No, it is not nitpicking—it is policy pure and simple, and it is an important question that you will need to answer or attempt to answer. If you need time to do research, say so. We, as Wikipedia editors, do not determine what is controversial, nor is it acceptable to create or manufacture an alleged controversy by adding unreliable sources to BLP. On Wikipedia, when we talk about a controversy, we always, in every case, refer to at least one reliable source that describes the controversy. I've been working on so-called controversial articles for many years, so I can say that I understand how this works from experience. Another way you can easily fulfill this criteria, is to describe the controversy, briefly, in your own words, here on the talk page, and then support your description with at least one third-party source, removed from Gates and any of his so-called critics, that mentions the controversy. If there is a controversy for us to write about, then this will take you five minutes. However, you don't really have a choice. This is required. Furthermore, I have not addressed any of your other points—and I will not address them—until this most fundamental criterion is met. We do not frame a topic as controversial or not. We use reliable sources who have framed it for us. The sources you have offered so far do not necessarily meet the criterion of a reliable source, especially when we are dealing with a BLP. Therefore, to claim that this is a controversy, you need to find at least one reliable source, independent of supporters and detractors, that describes the controversy. To put it another way, I need to verify, using reliable secondary sources that are neither self-published or of a blog or op/ed nature, that there is a controversy that was reported in the literature and that this is a mainstream POV. In order to verify this is the case, I will need to see reliable sources about the alleged controversy written by authors independent of it. Viriditas (talk) 08:49, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
Nitpicking issue wiki does not require it for usage of the word controversy beyond the [1] You can up the threshold and start this "letter of the law" thing but thats all you are doing. Why not say you need reliable white sources from Boston University which were written by experts on the slave trade who are not affliated with gates or slavery. in other words an impossible condition to satisfy. Waiting for other comments on the word "controversy".--Halqh حَلَقَة הלכהሐላቃህ (talk) 08:55, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
WP:V is policy, and it is required to verify that there is an actual controversy reported by RS. This isn't voluntary. If you don't do it, the material will be removed due to the failure to meet WP:V, and its associated concerns below. Viriditas (talk) 08:58, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons
    • "Criticism and praise should be included if they can be sourced to reliable secondary sources, so long as the material is presented responsibly, conservatively, and in a disinterested tone. Do not give disproportionate space to particular viewpoints; the views of tiny minorities should not be included at all. Care must be taken with article structure to ensure the overall presentation and section headings are broadly neutral. Beware of claims that rely on guilt by association, and biased or malicious content."
  • Wikipedia:Coatrack
    • "A common fact picking device is listing great amounts of individual peoples' quotes criticizing of the nominal subject, while expending little or no effort mentioning that the criticism comes from a small fraction of people. That small fraction thus gets a soapbox that is far larger than reality warrants. Even though the facts may be true as such, the proportional volume of the hand-picked facts drowns other information, giving a false impression to the reader."
  • WIkipedia:Original research, WP:SYNTHESIS
    • "Do not combine material from multiple sources to reach or imply a conclusion not explicitly stated by any of the sources. If one reliable source says A, and another reliable source says B, do not join A and B together to imply a conclusion C that is not mentioned by either of the sources. This would be a synthesis of published material to advance a new position, which is original research."
The burden then is on you to use wiki procedure to discount the remarks made in reply to gates. Your SAY SO, is not weight enough. You can test Grio et al for R.S. and come back after you request additional remarks. Two editors in a despute - follow the policy.additional comments on the subject. I already know what the issue is. but this is not a forum. Clearly no synthesis has gone on and it is standard NPOV to state what Gates said and what the response was. No violation. Request for comments is a good place to start. tiny minority-invalid, insulting-invalid. Not a nominal subject. What else you have to throw, I can copy and paste those things also when I do not like the result I am getting. But all developed articles do this [Tutu Bio of NPOV ] Using policy to box people in. So it is impossible to get a NPOV to gates statements. and ultimately we only have him, The reader then thinks there was no fall out. --Halqh حَلَقَة הלכהሐላቃህ (talk) 09:05, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
I'm afraid you've made a mistake. The WP:BURDEN is never on an editor to disprove a claim. The burden is always on the editor adding material or making a claim. In this case, you are claiming that a controversy exists, and you are doing this in a BLP article. Whenever such claims are made, especially in a BLP, an editor needs to be able to verify the claim in a reliable secondary source. I don't have to disprove the claim at all. Again, "The burden of evidence lies with the editor who adds or restores material". Viriditas (talk) 09:18, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
I will give you that, my suggest is make a request for additional comments because right now it is you and me having this debate. If we want the best for this page, then others should be allowed to contribute to settle this. I challenge this secondary sources issue because if we depended on them NPOV would get trashed. That is my issue. On some topics that rule works, this is not one of them. Wiki rules are guidlines and 2nd NPOV sources do not exist.--Halqh حَلَقَة הלכהሐላቃህ (talk) 09:23, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
I am sympathetic to your position. I had great difficulty finding sources and writing about Aniru Conteh, but I got through it, and now it is nominated for GA. (hopefully it will pass!) Conteh was a hero, not just to Sierra Leone, but to the world, and not just as an African, but as a human being. I was sad to find that the Western media all but ignored him, preferring to focus on celebrities and other trivialities instead. Why don't we both spend the next day or so doing research on this issue and see if we can find something? Viriditas (talk) 09:28, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
I respectful accept your request and will live with the outcome. I am forever fighting R.S on wiki it is very frustrating. Thanks for the link to Aniru Conteh--Halqh حَلَقَة הלכהሐላቃህ (talk) 09:34, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
I have started User:Viriditas/Ending the Slavery Blame-Game. There appears to be secondary sources on the subject, however, I must respectfully request that we rely on them per best practices when writing about BLP's. Viriditas (talk) 02:06, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
OK, I've reviewed most of the sources. In a Counterspin interview, Ron Daniels appears to best encapsulate the arguments by Afrocentric scholars and proponents of reparations against Gates's editorial, which consists of two parts: 1) Daniels agrees that there was complicity of Africans in the slave trade, but they didn't initiate it or benefit from it like Europe did. Further, it is a matter of historical record that oppressed groups will collaborate. 2) According to Daniels, Gates dismisses the psychological, cultural and physical damages done to African Americans during the history of the slave trade within the U.S., during and after slavery was abolished.
After reviewing all of the reliable sources on this topic, I must conclude that we do not need a separate section nor do we need a coatracked quote farm. What we need is an expansion of the the career section broken down by chronology, to include this incident and a brief response to the editorial. There was no major controversy outside of a small community of Afrocentric scholars and reparations proponents who disagreed with the opinion offered in an editorial. That is hardly controversial. Viriditas (talk) 03:20, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
I've temporarily replaced the opinion quote farm with a secondary source quote. This is the ideal approach to a BLP, but I would prefer to see prose replace the quotes. Nevertheless, I think we should also add coverage from Bayo Holsey's "Owning Up to the Past? African slave traders and the hazards of discourse" and Ron Daniels arguments from his interview with Counterspin. But again, this BLP must not become a coatrack for arguments in favor of reparations. This article is about the life and career of Henry Louis Gates, and it must cover it as any other encyclopedia. Viriditas (talk) 03:43, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

The reaction of the scholar to Henry Louis Gates's call to stop the "blame" slavery game makes me sick ! They are not historians but proponents of the Black Victimhood Ideology (the other side of the "white guilt" ideology). This manichaen image white vs black simply falls down when we look at the historical facts. History books about the slave trade reveals that the majority of africans deported in the american continent were BOUGHT from local tribes. Which means that the majority of them were already slaves or reduced in servitude in their native land. Without participation from local african kingdoms the slave trade would not have been possible. Is she gonna sue the Arabs for the slave trade toward the Middle East ? She will never because her point of view is purely ideological. Slavery is a universal phenomenon but there's been hardly any society where it was as rooted as in the african society. The majority of countries where slavery is still practiced are african ones: Ghana, Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Sudan to name a few (Ethiopia which has historically never been colonized abolished slavery only in 1942) and there's still some Arabs who own black slaves. Europeans are not planning to sue the Arabs because of the white slaves, in fact between the 1500's and 1800's approximately 1.25 million of white europeans were captured by pirates in the meditteranean sea to be sold into slavery in north africa and other middle eastern slave markets. This number is higher than the number of africans deported in the USA which is approximately 500'000 (shipments of slaves have been much more bigger in Brazil and in the West Indies where they totalized approximately 85% of the africans deported). Instead of repeating cliches people need an intellectual emancipation. Of course Political Correctness brand people who dare to question Guilt/Victimhood dogmas as "racists", if they are white, or as "uncle toms", if they are black, with a similar speed to which people under Stalin would brand opponents as "landlords", "bourgeois", "kulaks", "capitalists", "saboteurs", "counter-revolutionaries"! They have the point in common that they are nothing but stereotypical slurs in order to coerce people into ideological conformity. BigOne, (talk) 16:09 19 April 2012 — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:10, 19 April 2012 (UTC)

Bibliography/filmography consolidation[edit]

Currently, the bibliography includes a list of films, and is followed by a separate Filmography section. The filmography goes roughly in reverse chronological order. Is there a convention here? Should these be two different sections? Yonar (talk) 09:49, 12 May 2011 (UTC)


Should we say something about what Gates says about his own race? I understand from this article (already quoted elsewhere in Wikipedia) that Gates was dissappointed to discover in his research that he is probably over 50% white caucasian. — Preceding unsigned comment added by IceDragon64 (talkcontribs) 00:14, 23 June 2011 (UTC)

The article you point to is a paper presented at a conference. It uses Duster, 2006, Deep Roots and Tangled Branches, Chronicle of Higher Education as its source, which discusses the "scientific imprecision on matters of identity and identification". I think we need additional sources to include this as "fact". Viriditas (talk) 23:11, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

Gates's critics say he's a provocateur and publicity hound.[edit]

Some time ago, I tagged this sentence with a {{who}} for Gates' critics and a {{cn}} for the sentence as a whole. Revisiting the edit today I found that someone had provided a source, which is good, and had removed the {{who}} without expanding on it, which is less good (perhaps not the same person, I didn't check). Then I looked at the source provided, and it was a blog -- one published on the Sun website, but a blog nonetheless. It was written in tabloid style and featured street polling style comments from people who were pro-Gates on one hand and pro-Police on the other. These people were cited with first names and there is no indication of who any of them are or whether they are noteworthy or not.

Now in normal circumstances, despite finding the source weak, I probably would have let it pass. After all, it's obivously true that Gates' critics have called him that and worse, and a source is a source -- it's not like a Sun blogger is the same as a self-published tumblr account. But these are not normal circumstances: this a WP:BLP article of a high-profile person who attracts much love from his supporters and hate from his critics. To this end, it is imperative that we remain absolutely neutral and stick to the highest quality sources available -- and when they aren't available, we should err on the side of not including the information.

Having said all that, I did not actually remove the statement, I simply returned it to its previous, tagged version. I would like to see the structure of the statement changed, however. "Gates' critics" could be anyone -- he has many -- and is not a terribly specific or encylopedic way of attributing opinion. It's what we call a weasel word, and its use is not acceptable on WP. Instead, we should choose a specific and notable critic or critics who have called him a provocateur and a publicity hound, and provide proof (i.e. a source) that this point of view is widely held. That original {{who}} that someone deleted is absolutely relevant here and should not be removed.

Remember, this is the biography of a living person, and the standards for libel are not terribly high in the United States, where Wiki's servers reside. If we cannot source this statement to specific notable critics and establish that including the opinion would not violate WP:UNDUE, we should remove it, no matter how self-evident it may seem. Remember WP:TRUTH. Eniagrom (talk) 09:35, 13 October 2014 (UTC)

I removed it. It was a misuse of the source and added to the wrong topic altogether. It doesn't belong here. Viriditas (talk) 06:39, 14 October 2014 (UTC)
Great, thanks. That was my instinct as well but I didn't want to drive-by edit an article like this one. Eniagrom (talk) 09:46, 14 October 2014 (UTC)
@Eniagrom: No worries. I could use your help cleaning up this article and getting it ready for GA status. Viriditas (talk) 23:41, 14 October 2014 (UTC)
My usefulness here would be limited, I fear -- I don't know much about him nor do I have the time to educate myself. Beyond simple copyediting and such I don't think I'd be much help. But if you have something specific let me know. Eniagrom (talk) 13:11, 15 October 2014 (UTC)

Hacked Sony Emails, Ben Affleck Slave Ancestor Cover up, and PBS Guidelines.[edit]

Is anyone planning to Add info about the current controversy concerning Skip Gates.

From a hacked Sony Email it was exposed that Gates purposely hid the history of Ben Affleck slave owning Ancestors. In a Show claiming to show people's Roots, Affleck complained about the history of his slave owning ancestors being discovered, and gates emailed Sony for advice on the issue.

In the end the history was covered up and no exposed in the show. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:48, 19 April 2015 (UTC)