Monday, May 04, 2009

Acting White: The Paradox of Blacks and White Stuff

I have owned BMW cars for 30 years and would hardly consider another maker. I briefly had a Volvo R850, but came to realized that the Swedes, unlike the Germans, build cars to run into trees, regardless of how quickly they accelerate prior to impact. In any event, my subject is that blacks are more than just reluctant consumers of things white, even while the group laments behaviors and attitudes of the people and culture that exploits and marginalizes them.

So why is it that on one hand black folks rail about Euro-centric influence in America, but they turn around and go into debt to have the finest Euro-goods that money can buy? Women and men drape themselves in all manner of European style of Italian and French clothes, shoes, eye wear, German cars, Swiss watches and chocolate, never mind technology. From Beyonce to beyond, tinted, dyed, and braided blond black women abound. Even more curious, blacks purchase Japanese, even though this group is notorious in their anti-black attitudes. This black consumption is not reluctant, but rather conspicuous and proud, and incongruent with the rhetoric. Why is this not hypocritical?

I’m not saying that because whites or Asians make stuff that black people want that this gives them the right to abuse the group, quite the opposite. Alternately, should blacks not feel a little twinge that white people do, in fact, make everything, while Asians make it cheaper? Should it also be a surprise that people who make everything, also score better in intelligence? Of course, the flip side to all that intelligence is that it does not always come with the common sense or moral fiber not to war or pollute each other or the planet into oblivion.

The other day I suggested to two black educator-friends that European Jews might have a brain physiology advantage, and you would have thought I tried to repeal MLK day. They were fascinated by talk of sickle-cells and malaria, but repulsed by similarly described interactions of sphingolipid brain enhancement/disorder.

What I’m saying is that as much as I marvel at black American inventions like jazz, or athletic prowess, I also see how much blacks are dependent and benefit from the scientific leadership of whites. I do not see this leadership as an accident, nor do I feel bad about blacks, who as a group have contributed abundantly as well to humanity. Hell, it was Africans who collectively overcame more than 100,000 years of their harsh continent to ultimately explore the planet, way before there was any white stuff to be had.

James C. Collier


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Anonymous said...

"Hell, it was Africans who collectively overcame more than 100,000 years of their harsh continent to ultimately explore the planet"

Yes, I guess if you use the term "Africans" loosely that might be true. However, those "Africans" who left Africa to conquer the world are now known as Asians, Whites, Indians, etc...

The way you use the term "African" in that sentence, it might as well be the word "human". In that sense, whites are as "African" as anyone. But today "African" means the people who didn't leave. So please don't conflate "humans", who may have "originated" in Africa, with modern-day "Africans". A modern-day Ghanaian is no more closely related to the "first human" than a Spaniard, a Korean, or an Inuit.

James C. Collier said...

Anon 3:29, I believe that we are very different by time and geography, and only superficially by biology and genes. As a human being I take satisfaction in all accomplishments and remorse in all steps backward of any human. However, the evolved intellect and abilities of those who remained behind in Africa should not lose 'credit' for their contribution, because of most recent advancements by the top end of the distribution. In such a short window, what seems like advancement can turn out to be otherwise.

Anonymous said...

So what is the "contribution" of those those who remained behind?

My point is that the word "African", referring to the people who left Africa thousands of years ago, is completely opposite of the meaning of the word "African" today, which refers to the descendents of those who never left.

James C. Collier said...

Some postulate a genetic difference between historical Africans that walked out-of-Africa versus those that stayed, against today's Africans, but there is no validating science so far, only superficial genetic difference among adaptable (labile) features, esp. skin. What we see through the lens of ethnicity is really an echo of the normal distribution of gene expression, rather than different (mutative) genes, which underpin genetic race theories.

Undercover Black Man said...

I believe that we are very different by time and geography, and only superficially by biology and genes.

But James... what difference would "time and geography" make except for genetic adaptation? Time + geographic isolation = genetic adaptation.

By the way, are you hip to the 1000 Genomes Project?

James C. Collier said...

David, the intersection of time and geo. along with inherited intelligence directs and illuminates differing rates of societal advancement, creating that wild card social intelligence factor transferred from generation to generation, supplementing the 50-80% heritable gene expression of our parents. Aboriginies are the purest example (with no written language and super-memories) of this gen-to-gen contextual transference.
As for the 1K Genomes, looks cool if it helps separate outcomes from gene variant groups, rather than variable expressions from the same genes.
BTW, thanks for your blog, I know you gave till it hurts.

Anonymous said...

J.C.C. writes: “This black consumption is not reluctant, but rather conspicuous and proud, and incongruent with the rhetoric. Why is this not hypocritical?”

I believe it is because the examples you’ve chosen are not valid as a logical basis for use in this discussion.

Consider: Where would proud, culturally affirming black drivers turn to for their transportation needs? Which auto maker produces cars catering to the needs, desires, values, etc., of blacks in mind? Is there one car above others which best exemplifies blacks or black “consciousness?” I guess I missed this: When did cars become the domain of any cultural group? Is this to be a new means to measure pride in one’s race? The set of wheels I drive? Am I a “sell-out” now if I drive a (fill-in-the-blank)?

Looking at sales figures, it would be hard to answer whether folks are purchasing cars based on a value system driven (forgive the pun) by class, image or race consciousness, or if the cars are being selected based on other variables (i.e., performance or fuel economy).

In the broader picture, what shape(s) does true equality take? Isn’t part of the “American Dream” the right to own or purchase whatever you have the money (or credit) for? Financial power – the ability to purchase whatever you desire, surely has to be one of the means a society uses to measure the equality of its citizens. It seems to me that what you’re commenting on is just that type of equality hard at work.


Anonymous said...

Most black people have no immagination. When whites came back to Africa they did not meet their equals. You can't say that Africa was raped, pillaged and plunder by whites before it happened. Even if you accept that Egypt was all black it seems odd that they didn't share what they had with other blacks in Africa.

lincolnperry said...

Mr Collier
sometimes I believe that you have gone absolutely MAD!

How do you explain the scientific advances of Black Scientist like Banneker, Carver, Thomas Jennings, Edward Alexander Bouchet, Daniel Hale Williams, Archibald Alexander,Percy L Julian, and Dr Charles Richard Drew?

James C. Collier said...

licolnperry, you are a hoot! MAD indeed. The scientist you mention are exceptional in everyway (and I take pride in them), and that's the point. Relative to US black pop. %/T, in sum they come no where close to representing 12% of the US scientific discovery that betters our lives (relative to their respective productive years). US Black PhD's in math and science have never exceeded the 3%/T threshold - the spawniong pool of the standout crew you mentioned.

Anonymous said...


Just from reading your blog I have no doubt that you love black people so I wouldn't have thought you asked to repeal MLK day... I do think that many times in your intellect you tend to think deeper than what most do in what may seem like simple areas. Most just don't seem as reflective as you may think - which frustrates me more than anything.

So with no reflection one does not consider buying habits as they correlate to historical political thought, events and beliefts.

I will never subscribe to some brain advantages for any group ( i just don't believe the universe works that way. )i think it has more to do with exposure, experience and expectation.

Now the reasons for the disparities within the three can certainly be anaylized and debated. But I think your answers lie in there somewhere not in physiology advantages... of course one has to do a lot more "reflecting" to go there.

abe said...

I think the most sensible position at this point is one of agnosticism--it's seems to me intellectually dishonest to deny the possibility that some races could have a brain advantage over others, but we should not close ourselves either to cultural explanations. As David Mills mentioned, projects like the 1000th genome project should prove illuminating about this uncomfortable subject. I think as unpleasant and painful as it could be, the world would be better of with the truth.

abe said...

1000 genomes*

Anonymous said...

"Consider: Where would proud, culturally affirming black drivers turn to for their transportation needs? Which auto maker produces cars catering to the needs, desires, values, etc., of blacks in mind?"

But that's exactly the point, isn't it? Blacks are consumers, not producers. Except for cultural areas, there are very few avenues to "buy black".

It's the inevitable result of the "victory" of Du Bois over Washington. While Washington encouraged blacks to build themselves up, Du Bois suggested they demand reparations from whites. The mentality persists today, with the glorification of people like Obama and Al Sharpton. Blacks by and large are shying away from technical professions, where true wealth is created.

Anonymous said...


I normally don't fool too much with you because you're Anno,.

But you need to back up off Obama in terms of not acknowledging the work he's put in all of his life to get to where he is... do some research trust me he's the 44th Pres it ain't hard.

If you don't like the man cause he's black, a liberal or whatever other reason then fine.

But don't insult the reader acting as if he is someone undeserving of the success he has attained.

I happen to have respect for the work Shapton does as well. Which is not the point here. I understand what you mean when you put the names together... if Obama wasn't pres you would say Jackson and Sharpton... translation those who fight for equal rights and make some folk uncomfortable because they can acknowledge progress without denying the progress that needs to be made.

This is where a lot of bloggers/writers miss it. They let their personal feelings get in the way of what could be a good take.

If you want to debate the arguments or virtues of Dubois and Washington then fine... we may agree or disagree. But to diss Obama, THE most accomplished person of your generation considering the circumstances as not being a person who has put much work in to be where he is... its just plain dumb at worst and disingenuous at best.

I don't think you're dumb though we disagree on many things. Being disingenuous though hurts your overall arguments even more. Because dumb can be educated... sincerity is a matter of the heart that cannot be reasoned with.

Anonymous said...

What exactly has Obama accomplished? Winning elections isn't an accomplishment. If it was, we would all have a lot more respect for Bush 43.

I put Obama and Sharpton together because they both made their careers as race hustlers. How anyone could look at the causes Sharpton has supported over the past few years and have "respect" for him is inconceivable to me.

The bottom line is this: engineers and scientists create wealth that benefits all of humanity, while lawyers and politicians can only steal from the rich and give to poor. But black businessmen and engineers are treated as "Uncle Toms" while preachers, lawyers, and activists are glorified.

As Ricci v. Destefano indicates, the era where blacks can gain advancement simply by crying "discrimination" may be coming to an end. When that day comes, the black community had better be ready to contribute to the advancement of humankind as a whole.

ogunsiron said...

lincoln perry :

What Mr Collier and too few other black folks have understood is that it's not such a surprise that your only argument against a possible black cognitive disadvantage is a list of not even current , mostly mixed race , decent but not leading scientists.

James Collier and a lot of us here aren't mad. We're just smarter , more careful thinkers and most of all more courageous than you are.

Every race is advantaged and disadvantaged depending on what characteristic you're looking at.
The black man's sexual magnetism is well known and has been feared for centuries whether by euros or arabs or any other nonblack race we came in contact with. And you know what ? I think it's mostly based on fact. It's a stereotype which reflects what has been observed again and again.

Unfortunately for us, it has also been observed throughout the centuries that intelligence wasn't exactly our forte. And you know what ? There's NOTHING that i see around me that contradicts that. Me knowing super intelligent black men and women doesn't contradict that because for 1 super intelligent black man you can come up with 20 jews , 15 asians and 14 whites (i'm making up numbers but you get my drift) .

Smart black people need to embrace black race betterment. No one else can do it.

ogunsiron said...

Truth B. Told :
you seem to think that Romans and Greeks were not white europeans. LOL. What do you think they were ? Some kind of brown people ?

Michael said...

Ok, it's time to take the next most interesting step in this thought experiment. I will concede for the sake of the experiment that blacks have a cognitive disadvantage when compared to whites and asians.

Now what does this mean? How can we use this revelation to produce a stronger society?

James C. Collier said...

Michael, if we concede, for the moment, that black children arrive for their first day of school with a distinct level of skills and abilities, then their curriculum going forward must account for the disparity. Special Education is not a vocational track toward closing the performance gap, or a job and future, but rather it is an academic graveyard that must be eliminated, by doing different things earlier in their lives, including more years in the classroom. This is a start...

hbr27 said...

If we arrive at the conclusion that the black/white gap is due to a variety of environmental and cultural factors, then we have identified the enemy and can devise the appropriate strategy. With environment, we already attempt this, although I would say not as well as we could and should. I would certainly agree with Mr. Collier that too many students are shuffled into special ed classes. Probably as an easier solution to allow teachers to focus on the more easily taught.

With culture, its more difficult. People are always defensive of their culture, no matter how destructive it may be to themselves (many inner city and even suburban blacks) or others (the predominant white culture of the not so distant past).

If genetic, I don't really know what the benefit would be. As a scientist, I feel we should be open to the truth. As an ethicist, I feel the truth (IF it were the truth) could be more damaging than helpful.

On a side note:

I heard a Nickleback song on the radio the other day, and I thought to myself "this band sells millions of records, sells out huge arenas, yet I don't know anyone who likes them."

And then it occurred to me - "statistics say there is a black/white intelligence gap, but blacks that I know seem the same as the whites I know."

The less intelligent black seems as elusive as the Nickleback fan, although statistics would indicate that both are rampant. Weird.

Anonymous said...

hbr27: Odds are, you mostly know average whites and above-average blacks. You claim that Nickelback fans are "elusive", but the reality is that you just don't encounter them in your environment. I'm sure there are many current or former Nickelback fans out there who don't know many people who don't like Nickelback.

Chris Rock said, "Everything white people hate about black people, black people really hate about black people". Depending on where they live, whites can go their entire lives without encountering the dysfunctional elements of black society. If you are one of those whites, it is easy to deny the existence of those elements.

Unintelligent blacks are not "elusive" just because you've never met one. Have you ever met a Kansas City Royals fan? Do you doubt that they exist? If you do, go to Kansas City. In a similar vein, go to Detroit (or just look up Monica Conyers on Youtube) if you want to find dysfunctional blacks.

Truth B. Told said...

Truth B. Told :
you seem to think that Romans and Greeks were not white europeans. LOL. What do you think they were ? Some kind of brown people ?

Nice strawman to avoid my whole statement. I never said the Romans and Greeks were brown, but they definately weren't all blonde with blue eyes.

And actually that makes another good point, as some groups of modern whites are equally dependant and benefit from the scientific leadership of other groups of whites. I will leave it to others to identify who belongs to which group.