as i’ve expressed here before, one of the reasons i love the NBA playoffs so much is that its one of the few remaining places in america that makes no apologies for being a meritocracy. because of the best of seven game series structure, the best teams with the best players usually win, and that’s that. there are no cinderellas, no overmatched underdogs advancing to the next round, and no room for saccharin sentiment and overemotionalism.
also, because basketball is the only of the major world sports that requires each of its participants to run, jump, throw, catch, and move laterally while also possessing at least an above average amount of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, to consistently excel in high-level basketball, you need to have teams equipped with world-class athletes. typically, these athletes tend to be giant men, and those who aren’t tend to make up for their shortcomings by being genetic freaks of nature. this is an inarguable fact
although basketball is played by millions of people around the world, the league where the best of the best compete is mostly populated by men with (somewhat) recent roots in sub-saharan africa. this is also an inarguable fact.
with these two pieces of information, someone could deduce that people descending from sub-saharan africa might have certain athletic advantages that allow them to be at the top of the athletic pyramid, traits formed over millions (or, if you’re a literal creationist, around 2,500…give or take a decade or two) of years of evolution, and this deduction wouldn’t be completely unreasonable. sure, how evolution, nature, and nurture interact to create valued athletic characteristics is a much more complicated and nuanced topic than just stating “africans are better athletes.“, but there’s enough physical evidence there to at least have the discussion.
this brings us to stephanie grace.
grace, a harvard law student, was the subject of an andrewsian-level internet firestorm last week when an email she wrote to a few classmates about the possibility that blacks may have genetic intellectual defects was forwarded all over the internet.
from abovethelaw (click to read the entire email):
I absolutely do not rule out the possibility that African Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent. I could also obviously be convinced that by controlling for the right variables, we would see that they are, in fact, as intelligent as white people under the same circumstances. The fact is, some things are genetic. African Americans tend to have darker skin. Irish people are more likely to have red hair. (Now on to the more controversial:) Women tend to perform less well in math due at least in part to prenatal levels of testosterone, which also account for variations in mathematics performance within genders. This suggests to me that some part of intelligence is genetic, just like identical twins raised apart tend to have very similar IQs and just like I think my babies will be geniuses and beautiful individuals whether I raise them or give them to an orphanage in Nigeria. I don’t think it is that controversial of an opinion to say I think it is at least possible that African Americans are less intelligent on a genetic level, and I didn’t mean to shy away from that opinion at dinner
now, i completely understand why this email has been such a lightning rod. first, this wasn’t written by some backwoods tea-bagger with a baby on her hip and an ounce of tobacco in her lip. no, she’s an ivy-educated (soon-to-be) lawyer who belongs to the same law review that president obama was once president of…the complete antithesis of the “type” of white person that comes to mind when thinking of racial prejudice. plus, the entire civil rights movement in america (and any other country where there has been an oppressed people) was based on the fact that all men are created equal, and arguing that there are inherent inadequacies present in some races is all the justification racists need to continue to be racist. also, as a black american who usually thinks he’s the smartest person in the room (or, at least the most able to articulate his impressively witty observations), my first response to grace’s email was “f*ck you, stupid caveb*tch“.
but, while her assertions may have been disturbing, i have to wonder: are we more disturbed by her audaciousness of opinion, her dangerous naivety, or the (slim) possibility that she’s right¹?
my guess? more than anything else, the overwhelming response (which seems to vacillate between “she’s a dangerous racist that needs to be drawn and quartered. ali bomaye!!!” and “really, i’m not that mad. this just shows how white people really feel“) shows that most of us (and by “us” i mean educated black people) are hypocrites. we’ll discuss, debate, and joke about how we have certain inherent athletic, aesthetic, physical, rhythmic, and sexual advantages, but once the subject of intelligence is brought up, anything suggesting that we’re sitting anywhere other than the top of the human pyramid is immediately discounted and dismissed as racist, ignorant, and destructive. the only thing more dangerous than faulty opinions is the refusal to discuss them.
anyway, people of vsb.com, what’s your take on the email and the response it’s generated? was it wrong, racist, or just not very politically correct?
also, do you think it’s possible that evolution has allowed for people in certain parts to be predisposed to be better at certain things?
¹right now, there’s no conclusive evidence about race and its relation to intelligence. sh*t, there isn’t even any conclusive evidence that race itself actually exists. its all theory. for all we know, we (people with recent african) might be genetically superior to everyone else. who knows? my point is that just because something hasn’t been proven yet doesn’t mean it can’t be true.