Nikole Hannah-Jones, the New York Times reporter famous for her work on the paper’s “1619 Project,” confirmed Wednesday that she wrote a 1995 letter labeling white people as “bloodsuckers” and “barbaric devils” — with a caveat that she does not “hate them.”
Hannah-Jones admitted that she wrote a letter to the editor in Notre Dame’s student newspaper The Observer while accusing columnist Andrew Sullivan of attempting to “cancel” her by sharing a Federalist article that first unveiled the incendiary writing.
“Andrew Sullivan tried to use a letter to the editor I wrote when I was 19 to get me ‘canceled,'” Hannah-Jones wrote on social media. “He has attacked and trolled every prominent Black writer,” she continued, then shared a screenshot of Sullivan posting the Federalist’s article and linking the views espoused in the letter to the Times’ Pulitzer-winning “1619 Project.”
Andrew Sullivan tried to use a letter to the editor I wrote when I was 19 to get me "canceled." He has attacked and trolled every prominent Black writer and quit his job only because he has a new gig.
— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) July 15, 2020
“The white race is the biggest murderer, rapist, pillager, and thief of the modern world.”
In case you didn't grasp the meaning of the 1619 Project.https://t.co/xPPPaNC9yv
— Andrew Sullivan (@sullydish) June 25, 2020
“The letter to the editor I wrote when I was NINETEEN [by the way] was in response to this screed written [against] my Indigenous friends who were protesting a Columbus mural,” Hannah-Jones continued, posting an image of this other letter to the editor. “I tried to match the tone to make a point,” she explained. “Of course he had no interest in context or truth and so all this is so rich.”
The letter to the editor I wrote when I was NINETEEN btw was in response to this screed written agst my Indigenous friends who were protesting a Columbus mural. I tried to match the tone to make a point. Of course he had no interest in context or truth and so all this is so rich. pic.twitter.com/rPHEuFk542
— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) July 15, 2020
Sullivan responded, “This is an outright lie… Briefly noting someone’s past views is not trying to cancel them. I would hate to cancel you. It means I couldn’t criticize your work. No fun!”
This is an outright lie. I have never done any such thing. Briefly noting someone’s past views is not trying to cancel them. I would hate to cancel you. It means I couldn’t criticize your work. No fun!
— Andrew Sullivan (@sullydish) July 15, 2020
The Federalist’s Jordan Davidson identified the author of that letter, signed “Nicole Hannah,” as Hannah-Jones. On June 25, the day of the Federalist’s report, Breitbart News asked the Times whether it could confirm the reporting was correct, given the variant spelling of Hannah-Jones’ first name. The email was never answered.
In its second paragraph, the letter makes its thesis statement: “the white race is the biggest murderer, rapist, pillager, and thief of the modern world.”
The letter’s author compares Christopher Columbus to Adolf Hitler — going as far as saying there is no difference between the two — before launching into unproven speculations about African explorers reaching the Americas before Columbus and somehow being involved in the construction of Aztec temples:
Christopher Columbus and those like him were not different then [sic] Hitler. The crimes they committed were unnecessarily cruel and can only be described as acts of the devil. Africans had been to the Americas long before Columbus or any Europeans. The difference is that Africans had the decency and respect for human life to learn from the Native Americans and trade technology with them. The pyramids of the Aztecs and the great stone heads of the Olmecs are lasting monuments to the friendship of these two peoples.
In contrast, the letter states, whites’ “lasting monument was the destruction and enslavement of two races of people” — that is, Native Americans and Africans.
The letter then claims that modern white people, “the descendants of these savage people,” similarly sabotage black communities.
“The descendants of these savage people pump drugs and guns into the Balck [sic] community, pack Black people into the squalor of segregated urban ghettos and continue ot [sic] be bloodsuckers in our community,” it reads.
In concluding her thoughts, the young Miss Hannah states that white people feel a need to “constantly prove their superiority.”
“But after everything that those barbaric devils did, I do not hate them,” the letter says. “I understand that because of some lacking, they needed to… constantly prove their superiority.”
Earlier this year, Hannah-Jones was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her work on the 1619 Project, a series of writings reframing much of American history around the topic of slavery. The essay that kicked off the series and earned her the Pulitzer falsely claimed “one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery.” Historian Leslie Harris, herself a black woman, had disputed this point with Hannah-Jones’ fact checker, but she was ignored and the error made it to print.
Hannah-Jones has recently come under fire for excusing violent unrest and spreading conspiracy theories in the wake of George Floyd’s killing. In response to a New York Post op-ed titled “Call Them the 1619 Riots” — demonstrations which have descended into murders, destroyed businesses, and toppled historical monuments — she responded on social media, “It would be an honor. Thank you.” Days later, she deleted the post without comment. Hannah-Jones also shared posts which claimed, without any evidence, that overnight fireworks set off in Brooklyn were “part of a coordinated attack on Black and Brown communities by government forces.”