This is a response to a blog posted on projectshave.wordpress.com, which unquestionably seemed to accept that a co-relation exists between race & intelligence as measured by IQ tests:
In order for the co-relation between IQ scores and race to be valid, we need to accept the premise that IQ tests reveal a clear genetic basis for differences between “races.” Without a genetic basis racial differences in scores become immaterial, since other variables besides race can account for them. When we think of “races,” our categories are based on social and cultural constructs of alleged divisions based on externally visible traits, particularly skin colour.
For a fuller exploration of racism against blacks, I recommend The White Man’s Burden: Historical Origins of Racism in the United States by Winthrop D. Jordan, which explores the historical origins of race and racism in American society from first contact between Europeans and Africans to enslavement by white slave-owners. It looks at many stereotypes that emerged of blacks as being violent or sexual within the historical context of slavery. Many of these stereotypes still play an important part in our social reality today.
The concept of race as we know it in everyday language is a social fabrication and it is not genetically based. The question of “race” and IQ tests has revolved around intelligence testing of African-Americans. But, can we say that blacks in America are a distinct genetic race? We need to answer “yes” to that question in order to make comparisons between IQ scores and race valid.
Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race by Ashley Montagu is a seminal book that points out that race is largely a social construction and it is not based on biological differences between people. It still remains an informative work on the issue of race from an intellectual perspective.
We assume concepts of race to be inherently true. However, race has no biological basis. It is a cultural term that people use to describe someone’s background based on their own social upbringing where a person’s skin colour has been assigned social value. Biologically human species does not have categories but only variation around the globe. Most of the diversity among human populations, unlike other species, is found at a cultural level, not in physical or anatomical differences. Human beings have adapted to change by developing cultural traditions, while animals have changed their organic structure to respond to their environment over eons.
In human species, according to policy statement by American Anthropological Association: “Human populations are not unambiguous, clearly demarcated, biologically distinct groups. The concept of ‘race’ has no validity.” Biological differences such as in blood types do not follow our commonly accepted categories of race. So “race” biologically speaking is a meaningless term.
Still many North Americans continue to believe in three distinct racial categories based on a division developed in 18th century Europe. Under that division, you have Caucasoids or white, which would include French, Germans, Italians, Palestinians, Poles, Iranians, the English, Indians from Northern India and host of other peoples. Negroid or black, would include Somalians, Nigerians, the San, Ashanti, Masai, Pygmies, Zulu, people from Southern India, and many other groups. Mongoloids or Asian, includes Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, Malays, Turks and even American Indians to name just a few.
These categories are arbitrary based on cultural and social factors and they have no basis in biology. We can find as much variation within these supposed “races” as between them. Numerous physical anthropological studies have demonstrated that race has no basis in scientific fact, it is only a product of cultural and social forces at play across the world.
“African-American” like other racial categories has no basis in genetic categorization. In fact, if an African-American genotype exists, it is a conglomerate of other groups including “whites” and “Asians.” Studies have shown that all genetic traits can be traced back to the first human populations in Africa. Therefore, “racial genes” cannot be separated from one another, especially when a person in external appearance may appear “white” or “black” but some of their ancestors may have been black or American Indian.
We are biologically part of the same human family with little variation. The biological variation that we do have, based on such factors as blood types, does not readily match our socially constructed racial categories. So IQ test results cannot be claimed to demonstrate genetic differences between “races,” since socially constructed categories of race are actually being compared in such tests, which do not prove a genetic basis for any apparent difference in scores. The difference also can be the result of social, environmental and cultural factors, as well as, indicative of possible biases within the tests. These factors are difficult if not impossible to isolate, therefore any co-relation made with one variable and IQ test scores is highly tenuous.
Other factors that contribute to variation in IQ test scores cannot be ignored, such as, poverty and labeling by teachers. The Harvard Civil Rights Project is its September 2002 report correlates lack of equal educational opportunities as responsible for racial inequality in testing.
When making comments on issues of race, we need to carefully and honestly examine our own personal biases and prejudices before making uninformed claims. So The category of “race” does not accurately reflect biological populations present in any given area. The uncritical approach apparent in your post is a perfect example of garbage in, garbage out – invalid assumptions invariably lead to wrong conclusions. We have had controversial and inept example of racist language used by Michael Richards, which has highlighted the problem, and an analysis of the concept of “race” and how it influences our thinking is important. Without a careful examination of premises, we risk making stereotypical judgments about people.