Thursday, September 24, 2009

Acting White: What Is Your Race-IQ?

This post is not about the IQ of any particular race, but rather about race-IQ, or assessing how intelligent a person is about race. Judging from what I witness day-to-day, most people, white, black or other, have very low race-IQ’s. The greatest indicator of this is how often events show misplacement of the line distinguishing discretionary rights of association versus non-discretionary behavior pertaining to the freedoms and rights of others.

I describe Racial Intelligence (RI) as the ability, capacity, skill, to identify, analyze, and manage the intersection of one's discretionary rights and behaviors having to do with race, and those choices and behaviors, again, about race, that intrude on the rights of others.

Many minorities, and a lesser percentage of the majority, pretend that racism is always reprehensible. It is not. The conundrum of racism is not the ‘why’ of it, but rather that its existence is both reprehensible and natural, even desirable, in some cases. By example, black and white parents can each want their kids to marry within a given ethnicity, all the while unwilling to call this show of acceptable racism by name, compared to the obviously (to most) unacceptable racism such as detaining someone merely for the color of their skin.

In my experience, majority members, in the case of whites in America, tend to err on the side of over-extending the exercise of discretion into the actual rights of minorities, when asserting their majority influence. Minorities, on the other hand, tend to err on the side of over-extending the accusation of racism onto the discretionary exercise of rights by the majority, from their minority viewpoint. Call it a standoff. This makes each side guilty of displaying low racial intelligence, as we ‘game’ race interactions into a zero-sum result, and at the cost of not maximizing benefit for everyone.

These disparities of viewpoint and approach may be natural and expected, but does not mean that they should go unattended or unchecked. However, the crude labeling of all racial distinction/preference as bad, while shoving it into the closet labeled racist does little for progress. We see proof of this every day.

James C. Collier


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Unknown said...

I've been reading this blog for a few months now, and the remark about parental preference is the first one that has mildly surprised me. It made me realize that I'm not entirely sure what your definition of the word "race" encompasses (it's a word that I don't feel is very clearly defined in popular discussion), so I thought I'd ask:

I like to distinguish between "culture," by which I mean all of the products of upbringing: language, values, habits, etc., and physical attributes (including skin color), which few people have much control over. I think people generally use the word race to refer to one or both of these things, with varying degrees of emphasis.

Anyways, I bring up the distinction because, in my mind, the idea of a parent preferring that their child marry within a certain "race" is perfectly understandable if race means purely "culture", and less understandable if it is referring to purely physical attributes. I know in some cases there tends to be a strong relation between the two, but there are usually exceptions, and I feel like discriminating against somebody who is part of your culture but physically different is a negative thing.

So I was wondering what you think about it in those terms. If I'm missing the point completely, please correct me. I'm always up for learning.

James C. Collier said...

Gary, my point is that some racism, making distinctions in thought and deed based on LEO (location of ethnic origin), is natuarl, discretionary and acceptable. Racism that usurps status, legal or moral, is not acceptable. I think we need to represent this distinction openly in our discussions vs. all racism is bad. The vagueness of the word does not serve progress.

Anonymous said...

I think prefering one's children to marry someone of a particular ethnicity is very bad, and not an "acceptable" form of racism, even if it is natural to some people. Why on earth should a parent care about what race their son/daughter's spouse is as long as they are a good person and will make your kid happy?

James C. Collier said...

Anon 11:05, While I might personally agree with your philosophy, I think you illustrate the problem of painting people, by inference, as bad for thinking something that is within their discretion, and actually quite natural.

Unknown said...

I think it might be helpful if you explained what the essential differences between these "racisms" are. Just because something is understandable or natural does not make it positive or desirable. Racism in all its worst forms has come about naturally all over the world for most of history.

James C. Collier said...

Gary, the entire post is about the 'essential' difference and competition between discretionary rights and protection from infringement.

Unknown said...

It seems the post is making the distinction between racism that infringes on the rights of others and racism that doesn't, which is certainly a useful distinction to make in a legal context, when trying to determine if something is punishable, but it seems counterintuitive that you would call non-infringing racism "[sometimes] desirable", when they seem to have the same underlying motivation.

James C. Collier said...

Gary, I am attempting to reconcile the notion that diversity is good for society, while thoughts or acts that seek to maintain the base of a group's unique contibution (some might say culture or heritage) are a 'bad' thing.

Anonymous said...


I'm not "painting" someone as bad for holding that attitude, but I don't see how that attitude can be seen as "acceptable" racism. What justifies it? I don't thing speeding is acceptable either, but that doesn't mean I "paint" speeders as bad people. Just people that engage in bad behavior.

Anonymous said...

Two things:

One: I think this statement needs clarification -- I have no idea what you are trying to say. "In my experience, majority members, in the case of whites in America, tend to err on the side of over-extending the exercise of discretion into the actual rights of minorities, when asserting their majority influence."

Two: regarding your statement at 1:33pm, you are right on the money. I am Jewish, which most people consider to be "white", though I have my doubts at many other times. Jews are 2.2% of the US population and in terms of absolute numbers, declining. I have two daughters -- I would very much prefer they marry Jews.

I believe that diversity is good for society, and yet, how do we preserve that diversity if we declare that any act to maintain an ethnic or cultural identity is bad?

(Read a story at some pretty mainstream magazine today of a Jewish lawyer who married a presumably very lapsed Catholic, and surprise! A year into the marriage, issues!)

Unknown said...


I understand what you're saying now. Thanks for explaining.

Anonymous said...

Interesting subject.

I've maintained that much of what some people call racism is not racism but is disapproval of actions of a good portion of a certain group generally identified by color.

I think the vast majority of people believe that all people should be treated fairly in all issues work related and beyond.

Also a lot of what some call racism is indeed "culturalism".

People don't care to hang out with people that act a lot differently than they do.

I am friends with people that I respect for who they are as people and not the color of their skin.

Anonymous said...

"I am attempting to reconcile the notion that diversity is good for society"

Did you ever actually stop and ask yourself if "diversity" is actually "good for society"? If you have, can you tell me why?

I don't see the advantages that are apparently so self-evident to everyone else, but I have seen this:

chemist said...

Regarding pressing charges and seeing racism.
Glad you were not injured. Your friend is incorrect, the victim is always asked for their input, regardless of the race of the parties. About 50 % of victims appear to change their minds, and want the charges dropped. I am dismayed that you leaped to a conclusion without any verification. The idiot will probably plead guilty to the lower of the charges. 95 % of all people charged with a crime, plead guilty to the lower of the charges.
Several states have posted FAQs on this subject. The following is typical:
I feel that a crime has been committed. How do I press charges? Can I report a crime directly to the Prosecutor's office?
Crimes are investigated by the police, not the Prosecutor. Crimes should be reported to the police department or other law enforcement agency which has jurisdiction where the crime occurred. Once the initial investigation has been completed, the police department's report is filed with the Prosecuting Attorney. The Prosecutor reviewing the warrant request may send the case back to the police for further investigation. Ultimately, the reviewing Prosecutor decides what charge(s), if any, will be issued and when the charges(s) should be issued.

I am the victim and I want to drop the charge. Can I?
Many people incorrectly believe that a victim has the power to "press charges" against the wrongdoer, or to later "drop the charges". All crimes are offenses against the community, not just the individual victim. Criminal complaints are prosecuted on behalf of the State of Michigan, not the people who called the police or those who were personally harmed by the defendant's conduct. ONLY the Prosecuting Attorney can issue or dismiss charges. This is important because it takes the responsibility for prosecuting the wrongdoer off the victim's shoulders and puts it on the Prosecuting Attorney's, where it legally belongs. It also means that the defendant cannot "pressure" the victim into dropping the charges.
Although the decision whether to prosecute or not prosecute is ultimately up to the Prosecuting Attorney, the victim's opinion is important and the Prosecuting Attorney will take those wishes into account when making his or her decisions regarding the case. A variety of factors are taken into account when deciding whether to honor a complainant's request not to proceed with a prosecution, including the nature and extent of the defendant's prior criminal history, the severity of the alleged crime, whether the defendant has other pending charges in the criminal justice system, and future danger the defendant poses to the community (including the current victim).
Why are some cases plea bargained?
There are not enough prosecutors, judges, courtrooms, or trial days on the calendar to put every criminal case issued in Michigan before a jury. For those defendants taken to trial, or for those who plead guilty before a trial, there are not enough jail cells in the state to hold them. These practical demands, plus the defendant's speedy trial rights, the seriousness of the cases, the strengths or weaknesses of cases, the victim's wishes, public safety, punishment, rehabilitation, and deterrence are all interests that are considered by the Prosecutor when deciding how to proceed. A plea agreement is always designed to balance these competing interests. Most cases are resolved in a relatively short time by the defendant's plea --- many times a guilty plea to the charged offense.

Anonymous said...

"Anon 2:07, so you are saying that whites (or blacks) who encourage whiteness in procreation (w/o usurping anyone's rights) are engaging in bad behavior, but they are ok people?"

I'm saying that they might be ok people. I don't think the issue is far enough up on the "wrong" scale to singularly define them as a person in the same way other more egregious behavior would, but that doesn't make it right or acceptable behavior either.

James C. Collier said...

Anon 3:10, Diversity of ethnicities and culture are the result of evolution, which I believe seeks its own most efficient and sustaining path. Whether it is a cost, as a result, is arguable, and if we annihilate each other because of our difference, then the judgment must be that it is a bad thing.

Chemist: thanks for the input. I suppose I took offense to being asked if I wanted to press charges when the alleged act was against the people, as you say. I feels minimizing, and also consistent with more aggressive stats on prosecuting and incarcerating minorities.

Anonymous said...

"Anon 3:10, Diversity of ethnicities and culture are the result of evolution, which I believe seeks its own most efficient and sustaining path."


Anonymous said...

I second that "What?"

Makes not a lick of sense to me either.

Unknown said...

In response to the last two "What?"s, I believe the idea is that cultural diversity is produced by a similar process as biological diversity, especially the effect of two communities being separate for many years growing distinct. The other idea is that natural selection ensures that the things that make a culture distinctive probably exist because they've been beneficial for some reason.

James C. Collier said...

Gary, you get to sit in the front row. A hat-rack your head is not. /JC

James C. Collier said...

Anon 9:39, with all due respect, evolution and diversity are nearly synonymous. Consider the blue eyes that N.Euros coveted so for 1,000's of years are a common human mutation that stuck in a geography to which early 'Africans' had migrated. Genetic diversity is why we don't procreate with close relatives. Macro-diversity is the fuel of human survival and dominion, even while micro-diversity is the spark of conflict. Open that aperture.

Anonymous said...

So when you said "Diversity is good for society", you really meant "Macro-diversity is the fuel of human survival and dominion"?

James C. Collier said...

Yes, survival and dominion are good (I believe) and making babies with your sibling or your hot first cousin should be avoided, singly and in social mass. Hope this helps.

Jeff said...

Mr Collier,
I like this post. It is helpful to me. I had not considered the word discretionary to describe someones attitude about race. I am white and I one of my friends, a black woman, told me a story about her grandmother. My friends 6-year old boy has fallen in love with NASCAR. He loves to watch the races. One Sunday afternoon her grandmother came to visit and notice the young boy watching the races on TV. She couldn't understand why he could possibly be interested in the races "Black people don't watch racing", she said. Definitely not a racist remark in the negative sense but it was definitely her perogative to think that "black people don't watch racing".

James C. Collier said...

Anon 11:56, Notwithstanding your hyperbole, I think we should accept people with skills that we need to advance. Diversity w/o purpose equals cost w/o benefit, wherever a person might originate, including Europe.

As for diversity is good, I mean that diverse human societies, as well as diverse geographies, have historically, and on-average, advanced at a faster pace than those isolated by natural or man-made barriers. Diversity is an important factor in the acquisition/transfer of knowledge.

Anonymous said...

"Diversity w/o purpose equals cost w/o benefit"

So "diversity", by itself, imposes costs without benefit. I completely agree.

Therefore the assertion that "Diversity is good for society" becomes "Accepting diversity, to include the best regardless of race and culture, is good for society". That leads to a conversation where we can properly discuss cost/benefit.

James C. Collier said...

Anon 1:08, parsing another's words, less context, is an annoying tactic of poor man's logic. Nevertheless, diverse, as well as monolithic, living entails both costs and benefits. Historical Eurasia and Africa are both very diverse, and a source of each's strength during key times in social evolution. White-skinned people are very diverse, if one can look past their skin, as are Africans and Asians. All-White America is a Utopian construct that has no basis from historical Europe, which tells us that the savagery of Europeans is no less, or greater, than any other people, place, or time.

Please do not parse my words to mean, 'throw open the gates'.

itsjustmel said...

I am not an intellect on the subject at all, but I am not in denial any longer about the hidden hypocrisies of racism in my white race.

It isn't how refined we have learned to behave in public that is telling, but what we think and say behind close doors that makes it blatantly clear "how far we have come".

Is "behind close doors" racist attitude progress acceptable?

I suppose it depends upon how much power one has to influence and effect factors in the public sector.