Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Acting White: Intelligence Matters

Everyday people act stupid. In fact, they seem to be getting dumber with each new You Tube. Black people compete too well in this category. I recall seeing a black woman, just the other day, attempt to justify breastfeeding her infant child and talking on a cell phone, while driving an air-bag-equipped mini-van. She had the audacity to say (on camera) that she would do it again, despite what the police confirmed. This brings up how intelligence is not just a begrudging distinction, by those who failed physical education (PE) in grade school.

Intelligence matters because disparities in intelligence matter. Disparities matter because they settle, on average, the competition for scarce resources, while establishing who will have or have not, enjoy or suffer, or even live or die. Measures of intelligence like IQ, however imperfect, matter because we need relative short-cuts for identifying who’s got it and who does not. More is better and less is not.

So now, who cares? What’s the big deal anyway? Well, we all should care. Blacks definitely should care. Backing up, when whites long-ago said that blacks were inferior and could not cogitate to their level, blacks took it upon themselves to prove them wrong. Blacks begged, borrowed, and stole education as a way to disprove the empirical inferiority exampled by whites. The more whites argued black inferiority with charts and graphs, the greater the commitment of blacks to prove them wrong. Not a bad strategy for focusing black energies onto the win-win of education, and the benefits of the rule-of-law beneath it.

Now fast-forward to today where we see every excuse under the sun why 50% of black kids fail to pass an eighth-grade reading test, derailing their chance to gain a high school diploma. Minus a diploma, they will undoubtedly live an inferior life dictated by an inferior intelligence, exampled by unapologetic women breastfeeding their precious infants, while 200 mph bags threaten to blast said infants into lifeless oblivion. And whereupon sadly, a white lawyer will sue the automaker, the cell phone maker, the airbag maker, and the unused child-seat manufacturer, for millions on behalf of the ‘poor’ disadvantaged family.

Intelligence matters.

James C. Collier


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Unknown said...

i believe the starting point should be that people should get some damned common sense as well..

a basic common sense would wipe out half the problems we are having in one swoop..

breast-feeding-while-on-the-phone-while-driving clearly did not tick that box.. lack of intelligence exacerbated the problem as the woman clearly justified her actions to herself...

i have witnessed the cleverest people do really out there things because they lack common sense...

common sense + good basic schooling makes for a happy well rounded productive person.. (i know a ceo that got to 'o' levels and no further.. he quit school and his career in the post room...) they may not get to be brain surgeons but they will get a job and earn a decent wage to support themselves and their families..

schooling + higher intelligence gives you a further leg up the ladder... however we must recognise not child has the capacity for this.. & not every child wants to do it but the option is there...

lets get the kids through the first stage to begin with...

American Black Chick in Europe said...

Great post...and I can't believe that woman was breastfeeding her infant while driving! I don't understand why she didn't simply pull over!

And I agree wholeheartedly with what you said regarding education. I'm in my mid-20s and I don't understand why my generation seems to shirk education. My parents both went to segregated schools and they worked their behinds off to get complete their education, inferior school supplies, outdated textbooks and all. But when I was in school, so many parents made excuses for why their kids were failing, more often than not blaming the teachers and the school for being biased against them. And while that may very well have been the case, that shouldn't stop us from getting an education.

Invariably if my brother and I did poorly on a class assignment, the first thing my father would ask us (not our teachers) is "Why?" If there as a concept we didn't grasp, he would sit down with us and make sure we understood it. If he couldn't help us, he made sure we went to school early or stayed late for tutoring sessions.

Sigh. Sadly, I just don't see that level of commitment to education with my own generation. And that lack of education is hurting us in the long run.

graphixie said...

Great post. I heard about this woman, but I didn't know she was also talking on her cell phone. Sheer stupidity. No common sense. I like that you brought up how throughout American History, blacks have fought to have the same rights in regards to education, employment, and politics as whites. They fought hard. Now look where we are. It's cool to be a thug. When did the motivations shift in the black community? Why?

Anonymous said...

I've read some of your other posts on the topic. I'm wondering--what if the Jensen/Charles Murray genetic hypothesis is true? I think it's time we considered the possibility rather than just dismissing it a priori (oddly enough I think being open to it might put one in a better position to undermine it.)

It's possible that it's all culture (as far as averages are concerned) but at the same time there could very well be a biological component as well. I've read a fair amount of the literature and I think it would be dishonest to just dismiss the stuff as "racist" however easier that would be on my African ego.

AAW said...

@ Marci:

I totally agree with you. The breastfeeding-gate had nothing to do with "intelligence" but simple common sense. However, as I've said to some folks "common sense isn't common to everybody." Hence, this mother putting her child's life in jeopardy and doesn't get what the fuss is all about!

And then the folks with the reputable educated backgrounds who do some of the stupidest things I call them "educated fools."

Anonymous said...

anonymous :
Your words and thoughts mine almost verbatim from a few years ago. I've become even more convinced that there is a genetic component to this. How important it is, I can't say that i have a real idea yet. I'm reading. Furthermore I've definitely abandoned the idea that populations of humans who were pretty much separated from one another for millenia are "the same". You can always meet individuals from another race who act and feel and think just like you, but go live in that individual's country and you will understand that, taken as groups, people just aren't all the same , or even compatible.

Unknown said...

Interesting post & comments. I've always thought that the Black-White IQ gap was more of a cultural phenomenon than a genetic one. More and more studies have been examining the possibility of genetic mutability, the idea that beings can change their own genetic makeup to an extent during their lifetime. That would seem to invalidate the notion of racial intelligence differences.

In terms of cultural factors, I see ample evidence of those. Even a child spending 8 hours a day in school is likely spending only 4 hours formally learning. The other 12 waking hours of the day are even more important to a child's development.

A child who spends those 12 hours speaking dumbed-down Ebonics, playing basketball, and watching music videos is getting a lot less mental exercise than one who speaks proper English, plays chess, and reads a book. I'm not trying to generalize here, because there are many whites who grow up the former way and many blacks who grow up doing the latter.

One explanation that has always made sense to me for why east asian students tend to outperform most other races on IQ tests is that their complex, nuanced language stimulates their minds at an early age. The same can be said of jewish children who learn hebrew.

Unknown said...

So what I want to say is that I don't think it does black people a service to deny that we are possibly handicapped. There are smart folks among us, but they're not as common as in other races and our history bears it out, as far as i can see.

This mentality scares the hell out of me. There is no excuse to even think this might be the case. Whatever I will say this as a black woman who is degreed, who has parents who are degreed, that is simply not the case. Growing up in a white neighborhood and going to white schools all of my life, and now working in a predominant "minority" school. I can say with certainty the resources, mentors, and family play a much bigger role than intelligence as to why children are failing in this country. I grew up knowing at my schools that if I was struggling I had access to tutors, I had options to switch from one teacher to another who used different teaching methods. I had parents who were active in my education, who questioned why I got a "B" instead of an "A". They questioned when in 3rd grade it was attempted to put me in a remedial math class because my grade dropped from a 91 to an 82 in six weeks time, when white students remained in the same class making their C's. I remember dealing with bias in school from white teachers, and being frustrated as a black kid being told I would only succeed in community college, even though I was in advanced placement classes in my very competitive school, was in the top 10% of my class, and was already accepted to the college of my choice. My goal was to prove them wrong because growing up my parents, as racist as it may seem, always knew to tell me I had two strikes against me in this world, I was a black, and I was a woman. I had to be smarter, better, and work harder to be on equal ground with the "average" white person.

The kids at the school I am at, don't have that. Budget cuts means less teachers, the stigma of being a minority/low income school doesn't always attract the best and the brightest in teaching talent. Parents aren't involved because there isn't a surplus of housewives to attend the PTA meetings and some parents have two or three jobs. Sometimes parents aren't involved because they don't speak english. We don't have the nice computer labs, and tutoring sometimes isn't an option for a kid who has to go straight home after school to care for their younger brothers and sisters or who have to go to work. I have children who are in 8th grade and 15 years old, waiting to turn 16 so they can drop out of school and go to work. I've got kids who are living in U-haul trucks. Kids that don't have access to a shower or toothbrush, or clean clothes. Worse are those who simply come to school because they know that is the only place they can get a hot meal to eat.

I will say that some of the most hard working, smartest kids I have are those who statistically shouldn't be succeeding. They are black, mexican, poor, with no active parental involvement. Even though they have a job after school and responsibilities at home, they get the work done. I have one kid who misses school on a consistent basis due to family issues, but turns in flawless work and never misses an assignment, and I know that many a kid in the "more competitive" school would flounder in such a situation. These kids prove to me that it isn't a matter of lower IQs, but these are the kids who don't feed into the stereotypes and lies, which at their age is a very hard thing to do.

My parents went to segregated schools, and my father and mother went to college before affirmative action. My father went to a supposedly "inferior" HBCU, and still managed to succeed at a predominantly white university for his Masters. My mother went to predominantly white colleges for both of her degrees. My parents managed to give my brother and I access to things they never had, and they made damn sure I would never have to struggle financially, and that an education was mandatory, not an option, even if a subject in school was "hard".

The biggest problem I see in the black community is that we stereotype ourselves, we believe the racist BS fed to us, and we want to use it as a reason to fail. That has nothing to do with lower IQs, but rather self hatred. A lot of times when black folks tend to buck the stereotypical trend, we want to look down on others who didn't get out, but that does nothing but cause us to be further divided.

Anonymous said...

Typical anecdotal liberal "I know a guy" BS.

Anyone acquainted with the statistics should be at least willing to entertain the notion that "the gap" is genetic.

I am entirely of the same mind as ogunsiron here. To the extent that we can understand and disseminate the data in the proper political and scientific way, there is some sort of hope for the kind of egalitarianism that most people hope for.

Here's a far out hypothetical: suppose the illiberal Chinese, who don't give a whit about political correctness, managed to find a way to materially boost IQ for their quite homogeneous population. If it became a really unbroachable gap in capability, there would be a great social pressure for enslavement or genocide of the zoo-like "others". It is already this way for many high IQ people interacting with the average American - they simply don't share the same life realities. No more human than a gorilla or a chimpanzee. "I mean, it would be terribly nice to see them go, BUT..." would become the watchword of the day. Those unfortunate to lose the genetic lottery would be less than human and in probability exterminated. Luckily, the foremost nation in the world, America, is currently highly sympathetic. If the genetic hypothesis is true, let's exploit that advantage while we can.

Even if IQ is simply a statistical construct, the seeming endless lists of positive attributes it correlates with should be sobering. This is not a problem of choosing between the eggheaded versus the blue-collar; income, health, educational attainment, crime, basically EVERYTHING THAT MATTERS are explained by some singular number. And of course "White" racism as a sociological explanation is horribly lacking, so if one doesn't want to fake their status as a humanist it would behoove we few to jump deeply into this topic, rather than shy away from it, whispering inanities. To ignore that, as a black person, would be more than traitorous - indeed, it would be moronic.

Ogunsiron, contact me, the email is:
(the spammable email address)