I am a 21-year-old black man. I am an atheist, a registered Republican, and a member of Mensa. Already a minority within a minority within a minority, I have yet another idiosyncrasy that puts me in an even more unusual category: I am a race realist. I believe that consistently observed racial disparities in societal outcomes are largely rooted in genetic differences, primarily differences in average levels of intelligence.
I grew up in a two-parent, upper-middle-class household in a predominately black city. My parents worked hard so I could attend high-performing private (predominately white) schools throughout my life. They taught me to be respectful, to value education, and to take life seriously. Most notably, they taught me that race did not matter in the least, and that one should not consider it either when forming friendships or when dealing with people in general. I had mostly white friends and sought to assimilate into mainstream American society.
Two incidents while I was in elementary school were informative from a racial perspective. I recall a visit to the local children’s museum in which historical footage was being shown. What particularly struck me was a recording of Africans swinging from vines in the jungle, wearing minimal clothing, and living in primitive conditions. This was an utter shock to my sensibilities. Prior to this, I had believed that Africans had sophisticated and technologically advanced civilizations. This image of Africans as simple and unaccomplished did not at all fit into the framework of my beliefs about the world. Moreover, this was an actual video recording, not something that could be dismissed as hearsay or fabrication.
Another noteworthy challenge to my views on race came in the form of an issue of National Geographic we were assigned to read in class. It was about ancient Egypt, which I had until then thought to be a black civilization. It included pictures of modern Egyptians who were more Arab in appearance and clearly not black Africans. I was disappointed, as my view of ancient Egypt as a black achievement had been jeopardized. These events forced me to reevaluate my worldview, although they did not yet sway me all the way to race realism.
Once I reached middle school, I became even more aware of race. I went to a highly selective and academically rigorous Catholic school that prided itself on producing well-mannered Christian gentlemen. It required prospective students to submit elementary school grades and discipline records, and to take a standardized test in order to be admitted. The school was grade-level-accelerated, meaning that the curriculum was geared one level above students’ actual grade: fifth graders were expected to do sixth-grade work and so on.
I was one of only a few black children in a school of about 300 students. Hispanic and Asian enrollment was also low, but these groups were a similarly low percentage of the city’s population. What demanded an explanation was how blacks could be only one percent of the school’s students when they were 60 percent of the city’s population.
Aside from my shock on the first day of classes at how overwhelmingly white the school was and my later astonishment at how starkly my classmates’ views on Barack Obama differed from mine, race seldom came up and was never an issue. If anything, I could sense that other students felt compelled to be more kind and pleasant than they otherwise would have been so as to avoid accusations of racism. For example, there was a tradition, observed shortly before graduation, in which classmates chose by vote the person whom they considered most likely to become a priest. Although I had not done anything particularly virtuous, I was chosen for this honor.
I enjoyed a great deal of academic success. Within the school we were tracked by academic aptitude, and the highest-performing students were put in a particular homeroom. In accordance with my performance on the standardized admission test, I was put in the most academically accelerated homeroom, where I performed at the top of my class.
I never had any sense of anyone trying to hold me back. Many of my classmates were even heavily into black culture and kept up with the latest hip-hop and rap trends.
Although I welcomed the favor of whites, I was honestly perplexed by their kindness. These were the same people who had purportedly enslaved my ancestors, relegated them to inferior schools and housing, and then fled in droves to white suburbs once blacks had finally achieved equal rights. I especially resented whites for white flight, since the chasm in neighborhood quality and commercial services in black and white areas was so obvious. Whenever I wanted to shop at any store that was remotely upscale, I had to go to a predominately white suburb where most of my classmates also lived. How could such evidently good-natured people have carried out such horrendous things as slavery and Jim Crow? Why did they historically view blacks as inferior?
The supportive attitudes of my white classmates was in sharp contrast to the more disparaging attitudes of blacks in my neighborhood. As a rule, they were much ruder and more likely to be obnoxious and inconsiderate. During a pickup basketball game with some ghetto black kids who had moved under the Section 8 housing program, I was mocked and called a “white boy” due to my nerdy and non-thuggish appearance. (That I was not particularly good at basketball probably did me no favors, either.) Whites behaved in a more intelligent and civilized manner, but I continued to chalk this up to differences in culture and personal choice, not innate differences.
High school was similar to middle school: academically rigorous and overwhelmingly white. This high school posted high average scores on standardized tests and had a reputation throughout the metropolitan area for producing successful and influential alumni. Blacks were again underrepresented. Despite special programs and efforts intended to lure blacks, they were no more than six percent of students.
The typical pattern was that the freshman class would have the highest number of blacks—about 25 in a class of 250)—but half would either fail or be kicked out before they became upperclassmen. There also were scarcely any black teachers. Low-skilled workers provided the most noticeable black presence; nearly all of the cafeteria workers and janitors were black.
This was the first time race predominated in the social climate. I started to notice people self-segregating along racial lines. But most confusingly, black students who did not conform to stereotypes were considered “Oreos:” black on the outside, but white on the inside. I remember the following comments:
“You’re so quiet. Do you consider yourself black?” This from a white classmate, genuinely confused as to why I bucked the general black trend of rambunctious and loud behavior.
A white classmate says something racially offensive in my presence and another asks, “Why would you say that with a black person standing by us?” Answer: “It’s fine; he’s white at heart!”
An Asian classmate: “You’re an embarrassment to your race.”
A group of black students are listing black classmates whom they think act white, and include me: “Yes, he’s white on the inside. He has no accent and hangs out with too many white boys.” (The person who said that flunked out at the end of the school year. He enrolled in a predominately black high school and went to an HBCU. Two months ago, as of this writing, he was killed in a black-on-black crime. There were no protests or riots carried for him, since his death could not be made to look like black victimhood. He got nothing but a few people on Facebook posting his obituary. Maybe he should have acted more “white.”)
I not only saw blacks accuse other blacks of “acting white,” but, even more often, I saw whites accuse their black friends of “acting white.” My Asian friend—of whom I was quite fond—would often say that he didn’t consider me black. I found this extremely puzzling. To me, “acting white” meant being an Uncle Tom—someone who is intentionally betraying his race and cares more about the approval of whites than of other blacks. Being called an “Uncle Tom” is definitely not a compliment. In fact, it is one of the harshest insults for a black person.
The self-hating black person is derided in black culture, as in Uncle Ruckus from The Boondocks and Clayton Bigsby from the Dave Chappelle Show. Many blacks would rather associate with a murderer than with an Uncle Tom. This is not mere hyperbole. The black community eagerly embraces thugs and criminals who destroy their neighborhoods while it ostracizes its most principled members—educated and conservative blacks.
Even more confusing, I noticed that the more intelligent blacks would be particularly prone to accusations of “acting white.” All my life I had believed that trying to come across as an intelligent and civilized person, working hard, speaking standard English, assimilating into American society, not playing the race card, and not acting like a minstrel show character were characteristics of intelligence—not traits associated with any particular race. That ghetto blacks would accuse others of “acting white” I could, to some degree, understand. After all, the more academically oriented blacks did tend to associate more readily with white people than with other blacks, who tended to be ignorant. But what was truly mind-boggling to me was how whites and Asians could accuse blacks—even their own friends—of “acting white.” Why did they mock their black friends for doing what they were supposed to do? Why were intelligent and civilized blacks so often called race traitors by both blacks and whites?
Like an idiot, I succumbed to this pressure. I came to view hard work and academic success as “white” activities. I began to take school and life less seriously, approaching it with a half-hearted attitude, as if giving it my all would be “white,” and antithetical to the very core of my identity. I tried to the greatest extent possible to distance myself from my white classmates—not a good idea at a school that is 90 percent white.
I ended up graduating nowhere near the top of my class but still got into an elite college due to affirmative action and good test scores. I felt a bit guilty for gaming the system, but I felt I experienced discrimination—because of the “acting white” comments—and affirmative action was my way of getting back at an unfair system. (The same college also gave offers of admission to two other blacks from my high school. Their level of achievement was, obviously, high by black standards but also nowhere near the level that would have been required of a white or Asian.)
In college it soon became clear that I was woefully mismatched. I began to doubt whether I was smart enough to work at such an elite level. Perhaps the problem was me, not society.
Other black students were constantly on the watch for imaginary racism. They felt so self-entitled they drew up a document intended to force the school to accept more students and hire more professors from underrepresented races.
Students majoring in STEM often did poorly and got discouraged, even though they probably could have done well at a less elite school. Even those who were more successful were constantly worried they might confirm negative stereotypes.
Once, I overheard a black senior who had been the valedictorian of his (black) high school talking on the phone about how upset he was that a class he was taking to fulfill distribution requirements would cover derivatives. It was too late to drop the class, and he was genuinely worried: “I don’t even know what derivatives is! [sic]”
I doubted my abilities to such a great degree that I decided to get my IQ tested. My FSIQ (full scale IQ) was 141 — 99.7th percentile!
I read the book Mismatch by Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor and became resolutely opposed to racial preferences on both philosophical and practical grounds. I decided to transfer to a less demanding school and am now regularly getting straight As and performing closer to my full potential.
It is now clear that my academic difficulties were due to my own shoddy work habits and mismatch due to affirmative action: both were my own doing. Once I stopped feeling as if I were owed something because of my race and simply worked hard, I succeeded. This experience changed how I saw the world. My failure was not due not to racism but to my own poor decisions. Perhaps this reasoning could apply to blacks as a whole.
For years I was convinced that the major cause of black social pathology was this “acting white” accusation and the phenomenon of having to “prove” one’s blackness. It had certainly had a great effect on my life and impacted other high-IQ blacks around me. However, one day I came across a brilliant article by Steve Sailer addressing this topic.
He made the incisive point that doing well in school would not be considered “acting white” if blacks and whites had the same average IQ. That was my turning point. I realized that this was not a discrimination issue at all or even evidence of racial bias. What my white and Asian classmates meant when they accused blacks of “acting white” was not to call them “Uncle Tom” or “race traitor,” but something more along the lines of “you act more like a stereotypical white person than a stereotypical black person.” Factor in the differing average IQs, and it’s no wonder why the more intelligent blacks are often accused of “acting white.”
Of course high-IQ blacks will tend to associate more with a group that has an average IQ of 100 than a group with an average IQ of 85. This “acting white” phenomenon is exactly what one would expect when groups differing as significantly in intelligence as do black and whites co-exist: Behavior that is associated with intelligence becomes associated with whiteness.
I am now amused by how difficult it is to separate behavior that is stereotypically black from behavior that is generally associated with low IQ: making poor life decisions, failing in school, getting in trouble with the law, being loud and obnoxious, speaking poorly, promoting destructive and ignorant behavior, etc. Conversely, it is difficult to distinguish behavior that is “white” from behavior that reflects high IQ: being polite and civilized, showing emotional restraint, working hard, speaking articulately, being educated, being goal-oriented, listening to classical music, etc. It’s as though everyone subconsciously picks up on the IQ differences even if they don’t explicitly realize that what they’re noticing is different levels of intelligence.
I continued to study the question. I found that that other black members of Mensa are commonly told they are “acting white.” This pattern holds true throughout the world. High-achieving blacks in Britain hear the same thing. Successful Brazilian blacks are called the complimentary term “black with a white soul.”
I learned that literally everywhere in the world where blacks are found in large numbers, they exhibit lower rates of educational success and higher rates of criminality than other races. It’s no mystery why blacks who buck these trends are seen as different from other blacks.
I got my own DNA tested. I found out that I am 25 percent European—which is to be expected among American blacks. More interestingly, I learned that I was in the 96th percentile for Neanderthal ancestry among African-Americans. I find it amusing that I’ve so often had my blackness questioned; I’m unusually high in genetic material that is completely absent from pure Africans.
Here are a few observations by blacks that have stuck in my mind.
“Most of the people who were popular in my high school are either dead or in jail.” — my aunt
“This area was so nice when white people lived here.” — my grandmother, driving through a black ghetto
“I have been called ‘white’ my entire life. It’s a shame that just because I didn’t get high, skip class, and steal from the corner store I was thought of as a lame individual.” — a female cousin
“It’s not too often we get a young brother like you here. You’re proper. Most of the young black men I know besides you are thugs.” — a middle-aged black man I met during a summer internship
“N*ggers are terrible.” — my father, who often comes into contact with ghetto blacks in his line of work
“If it’s stupid, they like it.” — my grandmother, referring to young black people
“Why do we always have to come up with dumb shit?” — my extremely militant and pro-black uncle, lamenting black people’s proclivity for ignorance
It’s IQ, not racism
I now have no doubt about race realism. All the lines of evidence, from history to life experience, point to the same conclusion. All the usual excuses for black dysfunction are epiphenomenal and stem from the basic fact of lower average black IQ. Others viewed us as inferior because we never developed the wheel, a written language, a calendar, a mechanical device, or a two-story building. Slavery happened because whites (and Arabs before them) were able to enslave blacks; they had better technology and capitalized on the lack of black cohesion. Historians estimate that 90 percent of the slaves shipped to the New World were first enslaved by other Africans. (This is also consistent with Phil Rushton’s application of r/K theory; Africans have always shown low in-group preference.) All the usual explanations for black failure melt away once the fact of lower IQ is acknowledged. Anti-intellectual culture, poverty, bad schools, single-parent families, lack of role models, you name it—they are exactly what you would expect in a population with a lower average level of intelligence.
I certainly have learned much more about how the world actually works from great men like Phil Rushton, Richard Lynn, Steve Sailer, and Jared Taylor than I have ever learned from hucksters like Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jesse Jackson, or Al Sharpton. One might find race realism to be a depressing worldview; of course no one wants to believe that his race is much less intelligent on average than other races. But I truly believe that if you evaluate the evidence from an unbiased perspective and use logic rather than emotion, you cannot come to any other conclusion.
Furthermore, a worldview that takes into account human biodiversity is certainly more realistic and even hopeful than eternally yearning for whites suddenly to “wake up to racism” or voluntarily renounce their thirst for destroying “black bodies”—something Ta-Nehisi Coates thinks comes naturally to them. It is more hopeful than waiting for blacks around the world to stop creating “cultures of incompetence,” for which they seem to have quite a knack. It is more hopeful than waiting 250 years for the achievement gap to close or 228 years for the black-white wealth gap to close.
I now know what would theoretically be needed to close these gaps: a higher black IQ. I am free of any resentment against whites, for no matter how bad slavery, Jim Crow, or any other misdeed that whites are frequently made to feel guilty for, blacks around the world are infinitely better off than they would have been if whites had simply left them alone to live in mud huts and tote spears in Africa.
I feel empowered, for I now know that there is no impenetrable wall of white racism holding me back. In the words of the founder of logic, Aristotle, “The high-minded man must care more for the truth than for what people think.” If admitting the truth makes me an “Uncle Tom,” so be it.
As for my uncle’s question, “Why do we always have to come up with dumb shit?”, applying Occam’s razor will yield an elegant and parsimonious answer.