Some Final Thoughts

Andrew's latest responses to the Race and IQ ruckus is here and here. Again, I think you should read both. 


Revisiting an earlier entry, I think its most important to remember that Andrew's sourcing for his claim of "p.c. egalitarianism" consists of those who agree with the Bell Curve and a recent article which took a single source as its authority. Confronted with actual data, Andrew himself, admits as much:

I certainly don't have profound knowledge of the deep research of experts in the field. But since the Bell Curve contretemps, I have kept up a little with some in the field who sympathize with my own position on this. They say the chilling effect has only gotten worse. Even a scholarly citation of Jensen can cause havoc with your career. 

The hesitant terms of Andrew's evidence ("don't have profound knowledge" "kept up a little" "they say") contrast with the grandness of his claim. He does not contradict the data. He refuses to revisit his original claim -- that there is a blackout -- and instead passively passes the buck to his readers:

Maybe the effect on research into non-racial aspects of IQ has been exaggerated and readers should check out Dr X's data. But they should also check out the original piece, which has some serious points to make.

That is a really soft piece of argument, a derivative of the non-apology apology. Were I to employ that form in any exploration of the force of white racism, I would be damned. As well I should be. 

When I raised the point about empathy the other day this is what I meant. If you're going to charge forth with the freighted claim that black people are intellectual inferiors, you should not do so claiming a lack of "profound knowledge of the deep research." Empathy -- among other things-- for the people affected by your grand claims should urge you to be better than anecdotal evidence from your friends. 

Andrew's point, and the casual means by which he arrives at it, is abstract for him. It is not for me. 

I have lived in the black community virtually my entire life. I went to black public schools. I went to a black university. I have spent a third of my life with a black woman. When I wake up in the morning, black people are the first thing I see. My black mother and father hurled books at me. My black Howard professors shot down my dumb theories. My black book editor parses through my long unwieldy thoughts. My black wife reads my first drafts. In very literal terms, what you read here everyday is representation of the collective brain-power of a black community. 

I am open to the notion that this genetic collection could be improved by a bit of Western Europe extraction. (In point of fact, this has already occurred.) But not when that notion is ventured by people standing on quick-sand and telling me its concrete.

This is my last entry on the subject. I respect Andrew as I did before. His influence on me remains. This is not polite-speak ventured for his benefit, but a message for all of the black readers who've reached out to me in anger, citing this as their reason for avoiding his work. I urge you to reconsider. It is the same point to be made about Naipaul. We don't always get to choose the means through which we acquire knowledge. Ignorance is not a weapon.
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in National

From This Author

Just In