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 Student with Arms Crossed

In No Name in the Street, James Baldwin wrote (I’m paraphrasing because somebody jacked me for my copy of the book) that Black children were smarter than white children if only because Black children realize almost from birth that there is something very wrong with the country into which we were all born.

Of course, when it comes to IQ scores however, the numbers suggest otherwise. The average or normal IQ score for a white person is 100 while the average IQ score for a Black person is 85. With a score below 75 classifying a person as mentally retarded, it would seem that the average Black person is a lot closer to being retarded than being normal.

As very small children, there is no appreciable difference in the IQs of Blacks and whites, but as the children grow, so does a gap.

Why the disparity?

Well, there are several theories actually. The first one and the most dangerous one and the one that is being used to justify the growing worldwide eugenics movement is that Black people are simply genetically inferior. That we’re born naturally dumb and can’t help ourselves.

Another theory, better I think, but probably still not completely encompassing is that there are vast cultural differences between Black people and white people. IQ tests are standardized for white people. This gives a distinct advantage to a people who can dismiss as unimportant anything that doesn’t directly pertain to their culture.

My own theory is this: Black people have an almost complete inability to reconcile the irrational. What I mean by this is, upon hearing that Columbus discovered America, the white child will take that as a nugget of information learned, store it and move on. Meanwhile, the Black kid will sit where she is, transfixed by the picture she is being shown of the first Thanksgiving, recognize the Pilgrims and also recognize the brown people in buckskin, moccasin shoes and feathered hair; terrified to ask who could they possibly be for fear of seeming like an moron. It is clear to the Black girl that these brown people didn’t come on the ships with the Pilgrims, so who are they (since, you know, they didn’t discover America)?

A Eurocentric view of the world, I think, makes it a lot easier to see non-whites as non-people.

I remember when I was 7 years old and my mother asked me what I’d learned in school that day and I told her, “George Washington was a great man!”

My mother sucked her teeth and said quite angrily, “George Washington was a slave owner.”

I couldn’t sleep that night. The rest of my week in school was ruined.

Imagine knowing that there were already African slaves in the 1700s and hearing that some idiot named Jefferson had the nerve to write in America’s Declaration of Independence “… All men are created equal…” Now imagine the white kids in your class nodding offhandedly and scribbling in their notebooks while you just sat there, trying to make sense of it all.

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