Thursday, November 15, 2007

Acting White: Feeling The White

Each day we deposit more collective thought into a national knowledge reservoir called ‘acting white’, describing 360-degrees of race/ethnicity and behavior in America. But if we step back a bit there is a pressing need to add the idea of feeling the majority, or euphemistically ‘feeling the white’, whereby a person feels an implicit self-empowered status - a feeling typically associated with being white-skinned in America.

Implicit empowerment is the ability to take control of situations for sustainable self-benefit. Whites, as the majority inhabitants of this country, possess this empowerment, or more accurately half of whites possess it. On average, one-half of 200 million US whites born to above-average intelligence (IQ>100) have authentic empowerment, while those with below average intelligence (IQ<100) have the pretense of empowerment, via skin-color, more or less.

If you are ‘feeling the white’, whether liberal or conservative, you feel good about yourself, albeit protective of your legacy, via your race and your intelligence. For good and bad, the American Dream is your birthright. On the other hand, if you are solely dependent on the advantage of skin-color, your below average station has you feeling poorly of yourself and more critical of the impact of others, outsiders, to gain or maintain advantage over you. This occurs despite being born white.

With an average relative intelligence that is less than whites, US blacks and Latinos experience less of feeling the majority, or ‘feeling the white’, than do actual whites, and proportionately more pretense. Their pretense, unlike that of below-average whites, has taken on an ‘oppositional’ character and trails that of below-average whites. Below-average white behavior moves in the same direction of other whites, but still lacks critical skills, resulting in a fleeting benefit. Of all blacks, again on average, only 16%, or 6.4 million, have the potential to truly ‘feel the white’, as they have the intelligence (IQ>100) that propels them above the average white person. We see this result. Alternately, 33.6 million US blacks, with their limitations (IQ<100), are reasonably drawn to activities of pretense, reduced assimilation and oppositional behavior, much to the dismay of the top 16% of the group.

So what is to be concluded from all of this? For starters, our notions of equality of potential and result must become less rigid to the true and differing abilities of the people, particularly related to education. Racial disputes from all sides are too often surrogates for what a person or group is ‘feeling’ about where they reside in the order. This racial behavior must be challenged against a new backdrop that includes inherent disparities of geography, ethnicity, heredity, and social happenstance, none of which can be ideologically dismissed, or ‘normed’, out of relevance.

All people are not ‘equal’, or prepared to move forward in an equal manner or result, despite contrary declarations. Public and private education at all levels must reject the one size fits all attitude that forces reactive add-ons as band-aids rather than integrated branches of a responsive educational system. In place of these programs, we must create new programs that affirm and motivate children of varying ability from conception through adulthood, with equal enthusiasm regardless of intelligence level, or ethnicity. Why treat everybody the same when some are clearly smarter? Because in the end not only do we need each child to realize their full potential, but we desperately need them to feel empowered at all levels to take sustainable control of their futures as adults - and just perhaps also cut each other some slack on the journey.

James C. Collier


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Undercover Black Man said...

This is a very bold and thoughtful post, James. This is the issue that could rewrite the racial politics of the past 50 years.

Anonymous said...

Hey who should administer the tests to determine which type of black person you are?

Are you the smart black or are you the more prevalent less then smart black?

Then once these tests are given and we are segregated by intelligence, should each group have a badge denoting what type of black you are?

I'd definately want the badge that said "Hey I'm a smart black".

LOL madness.

James C. Collier said...

Marcus: Your humor drives home the issue. We covet the smartness label even as mediocrity rules our lives. Any test, however imperfect, merely summarizes empirical result. Pretending that everyone is a 3-sigma (genius) does not make it so. We need avenues of education for all levels of ability, and matching expectation curves to performance curves is the only hope for contentment. Yes, segregation will occur, but are not poverty, unemployment, prison, and disenfranchisement also segregated states?

Undercover Black Man said...

... matching expectation curves to performance curves is the only hope for contentment.

True indeed.

Anonymous said...

Wow. That's a courageous post. I'm surprised that you've only been flamed once for it.

Anyway, keep up the good work! Your blog is very insightful.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ If you'd like to get flamed more for this post, James, I could point some of the crew your way. ;^D

James C. Collier said...

D: Why is it heresy to state the obvious - that our current ed system does not serve the majority of blacks - and many whites as well? A myriad of tests tell us this early, but misplaced pride and guilt makes us wait to see universal disparity in the streets before we consider that some are more 'intellect-equal' than others. I stand for people, not pretense. BTW, I got on my flame-retardant undies.

sakredkow said...

I think we really need to reconsider what intelligence is - or rather understand better the idea of multiple intelligences.

James C. Collier said...

Whether we use standard testing, grades, or graduation rates, they all point to the recurring one standard deviation black/white difference in the skills society needs for advancement and is willing to reward. That elephant ain't leaving the living room no time soon.

Sweating Through fog said...

I'm thinking we might be making it an elephant. Maybe there is such a difference, but I recall from reading Murray that he had specific proposals against what he called "IQ segregation" that exacerbates the problem.

I have kids and there is a more than a stand deviation of raw IQ between them. But I'm guessing the "disadvantaged" child will wind up doing better in the long run because she has a critical asset - lots of ambition

James C. Collier said...

US schools currently have two tracks, college prep and other, where other should be labeled 'service economy fodder' - a track that is undefined, undeveloped, demoralizing, and leads to nowhere. When they don't go to college, kids need preparation for useful working-world pursuits matched to developed abilities/skills. I'm saying the non-college prep track(s) need to be real.

Leon Wynter said...

I definitely feel your overarching concept of implicit or relative empowerment, and its disparate distribution by race. I made a similar analysis in the last chapter of my first book American Skin (Crown, 2002).
I also find merit in your construct translating empowerment into a system of race based privilege, and calibrating it to posession of socially desirable assets, especially education.

But we part company where you attempt to reduce it to a matter of average and median black vs. white IQ scores. I'm no more a social scientist than you are, but I have studied and reported enough to know that IQ tests do not have sufficient predictive horsepower to pull the wagon you've loaded.

I think you actually weaken your case by attempting to quantify it in this way. The effect is to oversimplify, in the hope that a reader will be too impressed with the numeric logic to demand a fuller discussion of the complex socioeconomic and emotional argment you merely hint at with your point about the "other half" being " drawn to activities of pretense, reduced assimilation and oppsitional behavior." This is heady stuff, worth unpacking at length without benefit of superficial social science statistics.

All that said, your blog is quite intriguing. Visit mine, The American Race, at

Leon Wynter

Anonymous said...

Great post sir. Pretending equality is an easy way to avoid difficult questions about what it means to be human, and in a way particularly evil towards those who are expected to perform equally well on all tasks as others despite their different endowments. We need to stimulate the search for excellence in fields suited to particular, and unequal individuals instead of continually emphasizing one type of excellence (academia). Monetary success in a modern capitalist economy often correlates with raw intelligence, and being the evolved primates that we are, we attach a value-judgement to this form of success. High intelligence is important to success in Western society, and the politically-correct equality straight-jacket is a convenient way for the high-IQ part of society to sooth their fears of being accused of negative value-judgements, in this way actually reaffirming their very value-judgement of intelligence.

To make our society more honest and successful we need to acknowledge innate differences and seek ways to get the most out of every individual, unequal in endowment but potentially equal in value. The potential value-equality is currently tragically not reached as low-IQ people fail to perform well in career paths designed by elites, falling into a destructive lifestyle that aggravates and tragically reinforces the legitimacy of a negative value-judgement. The elite lie of equality discourages and derails the very people whom it intends to protect, benefiting solely the consciences of elites who are in this way able to escape the accusation of being a racist.

Unfortunately the subject is so emotional that almost no one is willing to risk their career touching it.