Are Black People Dumb?

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Are Black People Dumb

No matter how you approach it, racial intelligence is one topic that has been a trainwreck since its onset. It may be 2023, but some “interesting” people still see black people as less intelligent than they are.

To understand the relationship between intelligence and race, one needs to view the topic with an open mind and seek sources based on evidence. 

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Black People Dumb

Although the notion that any racial or ethnic group is more intelligent than another has been repeatedly debunked by scientific research, it has recently made a comeback.

More importantly, it is inappropriate to ask whether Black people are “dumb” or to conclude on their IQ level based on the color of their skin. In this article, we will be going through the origin of this stereotype and how it affects IQ testing scores across races. 

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Historical Context

Based on historical context, we’ll examine the impact of scientific racism and how it has perpetuated several cultures.

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1. The history of scientific racism and its impact on current beliefs about race and intelligence

The stereotype of the ‘dumb black people’ dates back to the 18th century BC when Greek athletes were ridiculed for the amount of time they spent preparing for sporting events instead of developing their minds. Several discussions about slavery in the Americas were based on whether the differences in intellectual capacity are found between races, especially between black people and white people.

Some European philosophers and scientists argued that white people were more intelligent. Others argued that ancient Egypt had been a black civilization and that it was Blacks that discovered the elements of science and art when other men were uncivilized. The definitions of stereotypes highlight certain issues while ignoring others. Unfortunately, what a lot of people highlight is limited to the negative. 

2. Analysis of how these beliefs have been perpetuated through media and popular culture

The media not only impacts the beliefs and ideologies about culture but also influences society as a whole. One of the reasons various stereotypes about scientific racism haven’t gone away is that the public keeps hearing about racism more than it does about the science behind it. It has given a lot of media hosts and personalities the chance to hold themselves up as defenders of rational inquiry. With so much focus on their apparent bias, a lot of people do less to discuss science.

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Understanding Intelligence

The study of intelligence and its several facets is always an exciting read for me. Here are the different types of intelligence and their underlying bias.

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1. Different types of intelligence and how they are measured

According to Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligence, there are seven types of intelligence and they include:

  • Musical for recognizing and remembering sounds and rhythms.
  • Verbal for reading, writing stories, and memorizing.
  • Logical for analyzing and proffering solutions to problems.
  • Kinesthetic for having good body motor control.
  • Visual for visualizing information and reading graphs/charts.
  • Interpersonal for understanding people relating to them.
  • Intrapersonal for understanding people’s feelings and perspectives.

When it comes to measuring intelligence, there is no perfect way but IQ testing offers a relative measure of intelligence.

2. Limitations and biases of intelligence testing

Intelligence testing is a major part of education in the United States. One must take the test to pass a class, move to a different grade, or gain admission into a school. 

Intelligence testing has been helpful in various ways, but also has limitations:

  • How are intelligence tests created? Many intelligence tests report the rating using the intelligence quotient scale, which requires a baseline. However, who determines that for intelligence testing? The answer is relative to how other people do on the same test, which can be a disadvantage of intelligence testing as a person’s intelligence.

Intelligence testing is also prone to cultural bias and the three different types of cultural bias include:

  • Construct bias: When it comes to culture, not everything has the same meaning. Construct bias refers to the systemic differences in meaning that exist between cultures.
  • Method bias: This refers to situations in which a test procedure is different across different cultures.
  • Differential item functioning: This type of bias occurs when there is a significant gap in the test scores of individuals from different cultures with the same abilities. If a group of people has the same meaning of a certain topic, their cultural differences may affect how they respond.

Evidence on intelligence and race

Moving on we will discuss the possibilities of environmental factors affecting intelligence scores, and possible statistics. Here you will find recent statistics on the concept of racial intelligence.

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1. Examination of studies and statistics on intelligence and race

The gaps found between the average intelligence of races vary depending on methods used for racial grouping, the setting used to test their IQ, the health and economic situation of the people taking the tests, the culture of the test takers, and the period in history when the test was performed. Depending on how intelligence is measured, a variety of gaps may be found between different racial and ethnic groups. Some groups may perform better on a task, while others may do poorly on the same task.

Data from the US and other parts of the world say that; 

  • East Asians have an IQ average of about 106
  • Europeans and their descendants have about 100
  • Africans and their descendants are about 85. 

From the reports, the lowest average IQ scores are from sub-Saharan Africa, with about 70. 

2. Analysis of how social and environmental factors can affect intelligence test scores

It was discovered that various environmental factors such as physical exercise, place of residence, parent’s occupation, family income, and education can greatly influence the intelligence test scores of a child. This led to the conclusion that a child must be given an optimal environment that allows them to develop to their full genetic potential.

Some of the evidence of environmental influences on Intelligence test scores include:

  • Identical twins who were raised separately have less similar IQs than those of identical twins who grew up in the same household
  • Children who breastfed for a long time have a higher IQ (about 3.7 points)
  • School attendance has an impact on IQ scores.

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Criticisms of racial intelligence theories

As earlier stated, the concept of racial intelligence and the level to which it should be measured remains a topic to talk about. One criticism that keeps recurring is that the concept of intelligence is culturally variable and cannot be measured by one criterion in several societies.

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1. Scientific and ethical criticisms of race-based intelligence theories

The idea that all races and ethnic groups have the same intellectual potential and abilities is an empirically testable claim, but in some ways, it is unlike other empirical claims carried out by scientists. As long as the populations differ in IQ, it tells us little or nothing about the source of the difference. It could be due to genes, but it could also be due to environmental factors such as nutrition, education, and cultural bias in IQ tests.

2. Why intelligence cannot be simplified to genetics or race

Researchers have continuously shown that a person’s IQ is highly influenced by genetic factors. More so, certain genes have been identified as playing a major role in this theory. They have also shown that one’s performance in school has genetic factors. However, we are yet to find out whether the same genes that influence IQ also influence grades and test scores.

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Now, its your turn…

The controversy over Black intelligence came from the need to justify slavery and colonialism, but it persists because a lot of people are still obsessed with the notion.

We must learn to respect each other and dismiss the stereotypes to maintain the order that no self-respecting person would approve of.

Taking intentional corrective steps would eliminate these racist stereotypes that are against the evolution of humankind to its next level of civil existence.

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Angesom Guesh Berhe is an esteemed Health professional with a medical doctorate and a Master of Public Health candidate at the University of Suffolk. With over six years of experience, he specializes in public health, humanitarian health, and emergency care. Angesom's work, rooted in his roles with humanitarian organizations and as a medical consultant, focuses on impactful storytelling to raise awareness and drive change in global health. His academic rigor and on-the-ground experience make him a compelling writer and advocate for humanitarian issues, dedicated to enhancing knowledge and care through his research and voluntary efforts.