'Black people speak like morons and have low IQs': More 'well' researched conclusions about food access

“Also it’s fucking 2013. No one hates someone simply cause they’re black besides backwoods hillbillies. People hate other people cause of how they act, and when you have a culture that thinks talking like morons is whats correct, you’ll have lots of people who dislike them. I know cool black people who I like. But saying it’s white Americas fault that black people in inner city Detroit don’t eat fruits and vegetables is retarded. People of lower intelligence on average eat worse.” -Posted on June 6, 2013 by animeindoosir in response to my keynote address at Portland state university on June 1 2013

I am always intrigued by such hostile responses to my work. This is despite me having received a PhD in social science research that looks at how power and resources are organized through structural racism. How does this affect consciousness and conceptions around food access, animal liberation, veganism, and ethical consumption? My work is completely misinterpreted. Nothing in my work ‘blames white people.’ I just suggest, through peer reviewed research, that racialization does affect everyone; but in particular, those who are racially privileged in the usa tend to not realize how racial formation deeply impacts perception, ethics, mobility, etc. So I simply ask that resistance ecology should encompass critical reflexivity around this.

But thanks animeindoorsir for letting me know that Black people talk like morons, have low IQs, and don’t use anything that the government gives them to help ‘uplift’ them, and that is why they don’t know how to eat healthy, and are deserving to be disliked and hated by everyone else.



And glad to know she or he has Black friends, so he or she is exonerated from their racist hate filled reactive post.

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45 thoughts on “'Black people speak like morons and have low IQs': More 'well' researched conclusions about food access

  1. Wow…insulting Appalachians, poor people, intellectually disabled persons, AND people of color. *slow clap*

  2. I’m risking being misinterpreted as defending that post, but I think it could serve as an excellent example of what miscommunication is occurring.

    Let’s start with some facts: There is cultural warfare happening in the US. The cultures that are at war are divided largely on socioeconomic and geographical lines, which correlate very strongly with skin color. There are nonetheless people of every skin color on every side of the cultural war.

    The academic definition of “racism” is about the culture, not the skin color. That’s why it doesn’t matter if some of one’s friends have dark skin; your friends are not in the group you are oppressing (most of the time).

    The academic definition of “racism” is any characteristic of the world, including behavior of any group, which benefits the group which is currently winning the cultural war. It would be racist in the academic sense even if it were the case that the predominantly black inner city culture intentionally choose to eat an unhealthy diet.

    The colloquial definition of “racism” is limited to behavior by an individual based on the race of the direct or indirect object of the actor’s action. For food access in inner Detroit to be limited because of colloquial racism, it would have to be the case that people choose not to build or supermarkets within commuting distance because the residents are black.

    When the speaker(s) and listener(s) are using different definitions for a key term, communication isn’t happening. Anyone aware as to why communication is not happening who wants communication to happen should (selfish consequentialist sense of “should” meaning “will cause your goals to move closer to fruition”) take steps to remove the barrier to communication.

    1. Totally disagree with you. Yes, you sound like an apologist.

      You write: “For food access in inner Detroit to be limited because of colloquial racism, it would have to be the case that people choose not to build or supermarkets within commuting distance because the residents are black.”

      Yes, actually, there are cases of potential [mostly white] investors that could support ‘healthier’ community grocery store initiatives…but they have actively chosen NOT to put their money into ‘healthier’ grocery store initiaves in food deserts of black and brown communities. They believe that ‘these people’ are not ‘worth’ it because they are ‘incapable’ of leading their community toward ‘healthier lives’ simply because black and brown people are too incompetent IN COMPARISON to the ‘innately’ competent population of white folk. Ask Brahm Ahmadi http://www.globalonenessproject.org/people/brahm-ahmadi of the Global Ones Project who spent one year trying to get money from lead investors (who were overwhelmingly white and male) to fund Ahmadi and his Oakland supporter’s goal of building their own community grocery story. They didn’t believe black and brown people would know how to use the money or WANT a healthier option. They didn’t even trust him despite him getting an MBA, that he knew what he was talking about and could speak for the community in Oakland.

      I just need to understand what the point is of being an apologist; and not even calling animeindoorsir out on his or her very hurtful and nasty comments that are not only ‘racist’, but also very ignorant in ‘defining’ who are true racists: only white hillbillies can be racist! But of course! And it’s always fun to to suggest that lower-class people are capable of being ‘racists’, because “Racism” = “poor class”. It’s always fun to suggest that people who don’t fit the Euro-Anglo centric benchmark of ‘high IQ’ are ‘too stupid to live healthy’. And it’s always fun to suggest that people who dont speak the “King’s English” are deserving of being hated by ‘everyone else’ (and who is ‘everyone else’ anyway?) For animeindoorsir to suggest what he or she did actually mirrors a white racist framing of who a truly ‘civilized’ human being is; actually, who ‘deserves’ to be given ‘human rights’ and/or to be treated as ‘human’. Racism does not happen in a void and is informed by other ‘isms’ that come together to create ‘common knowledge’ about what a ‘civilized’ human being is in contemporary USA: They are white, middle to upper class, heterosexual, able-bodied, speak ‘standard English’, and are hetero-normative gender conforming. animeindoorsir’s comments suggest nearly all of these ‘civilized human’ attributes by default. Anyone who does not fall into this white supremacist framing of a ‘human being’ is ‘uncivilized’, ‘incompetent’, and incapable of reaching the benchmark of civility and intellectual superior defined by this logic; hence, they are innately going to fail at being ‘enlightened’.

      I just try to understand this phenomenon of inequalities through social-science research in which one is trained to recognize that there seems to be societal inequities. One then goes out into the field, uses various methods/methodologies, and then comes back and creates theory around the LIVED experiences of human beings.

      Academic theory in social-science based activism is not happening in a ‘vacuum.’ I find it completely mind-boggling that that is how you seem to be presenting what all us ‘academics’ do, when trying to understand social inequalities and structural violence. As a matter of fact, I went back to graduate school because I kept on hearing the mainstream of the USA ‘complain’ to me that I CANNOT use ‘anecdotal’ evidence to try to understand social inequalities based on racial identity. So, I go and get the ‘training’ and the PhD after it and now I’m being told that my use of ‘academic jargon’ causes miscommunication and misinterpretation.

      Absolutely amazing.

      1. Your last sentence summed it all up masterfully. Denial is one of the most plastic and elastic things in the universe and “deciusbrutus” (whose moniker maybe says it all) provides all the proof needed. Amazing indeed is the human capacity for reality avoidance.

      2. Breeze, re your discovery that with or without academic study and methods to verify “anecdotal” experience your comments are criticized and dismissed,raises my heckles. Theories are created because of anecdotal-individual experience. This is something that modern scholarship has forgotten, so that many research hypotheses are atomized dust. The distance between reality and research has been stretched beyond intelligent limits by the fragmentation of scholarship, beginning in the 1940s, and technology has hastened that gulf.

        At the same time, the disrespect for individual/anecdotal and research evidence has NO meaning when the denier is disposed to reject evidence on the basis of unconscious bias and essential ignorance. I am reminded of a student–a “military brat” in a 200 level/sophomore social problems course, who denied and disputed his first assignment reading on the basis of “that’s just his opinion.” I introduced him, and the class, to the process of social science research . I found that high school and freshman instructors, apparently, gave no though to introducing students to what it is they are “there” to learn,” no nomenclature, methodologies, lexicon) using the 27 footnotes for the three page introduction to the textbook–an excellent one. After the presentation he said, “That could just be their opinion.” Having no comprehension of designation that each footnote was a result of academic study and research findings –or anything that those words meant, such as university affiliation and academic assignation. What I observed–and continued to observe among many students was an arrogant ignorance, and disdain for learning. He dropped the class.

        For deep seated psychological and socio-cultural reasons many humans reject the study of themselves (US.) Research into the biology of other animals, laboratory experiments are fine–the assumption is the arrogance that we are just fine, and don’t need to know more about our motivations and behaviors. What “I” feel and think is enough. The notion o that the essential study of mankind (sic) is mankind (sic) is ignored. This is what you will be up against in your career–and this is the downfall of the species.

        I integrate a spectrum of information and perspective in whatever I do. I came along at a time when academia was not as divorced from reality as now, and one was support for the other–not disrespect and dismissal. For example, I am thinking of a story-anecdote heard several times around voting rights for people of color. Supposedly, a black Ph. D. returned “home” Mississippi and went to register to vote. He was asked to read and interpret the Constitution in a variety of languages, which he did. In desperation a laundry list, in Chinese, was given to him. The scholar’s response–in perfect ghetto-ese was, “This hyar say you white folks ain’t gon let us Negroes vote no how, no way.” Wherein he returned north to his position at his university anecdote, hypothesis-research-findings???

        Your generation–and the rest of the culture– is receiving the newest version of “no how,no way,” hiding behind all manner of subterfuge, lies, denials, and particularly, ignorance of history, many kinds, anecdotal and scholarly.

      3. I’m sorry; did I get the implications of the academic definition wrong, or do you think I got the implications of the colloquial definition wrong, or do you think that the two are interchangeable?

        I very specifically didn’t take any sides about facts out in the world, only about the very different things that were being said about the reasons for food inequalities in general.

        If your anecdata are representative, then there is a major market inefficiency where an investor could make many times the normal expected return on investment. A tiny bit of research suggests that the inefficiency exists, since in late 2012 is was big news that West Oakland got a grocery store. If that generalizes across the country, it would be evidence supporting the hypothesis that the decision makers in big money national grocery stores were more racist (col) than competent. It would also be enough for me, personally, to shift investments into investigating construction of grocery stores in those areas. Not because I’m egalitarian or anti-racist, but because I’m greedy and I’m convinced that free market economics does not have an equilibrium in that case.

        In the modern USA, exhibiting the behavior of racism (col.) is very low-status. That’s the primary reason why you see defense behavior in people who perceive you as calling them racists (col.). The emotional is pretty much exactly what I expect you experienced when you first thought I was blaming you for the miscommunication that had and is still occurring.

        Miscommunication isn’t a fact about the agents who are failing to communicate, it’s a fact about the world. I don’t think that you are blaming me for racism (aca.), even when you correctly identify how my choices and actions increase racism (aca.). Communication isn’t solely any one individual’s responsibility, but it is a very useful instrumental goal.

    2. Your response reflects your blatant disregard for the field of critical race studies. (Btw, I brought this up in response to a comment of yours from another post but it is well worth summarizing again here.)

      You claim there is miscommunication because Breeze is employing the “academic” definition of ‘racism’ and animeindoorsir is employing the ‘colloquial’ definition of ‘racism’. The “academic” definition IS THE definition and the ‘colloquial’ definition is just the wrong use of the term. If an immunologist is describing ‘auto-immune disorder’ and her description conflicts with a “colloquial” description provided by someone who does not study immunology, we would all reasonably conclude that the latter person has no clue what s/he is talking about. The whole point of immunology is to study the immune system so that when we need to deal with issues of the immune system, we have experts to turn to. No one would call this “too academic”; it’s the most practical thing in the world (as a person with an auto-immune disorder, I can’t begin to tell you how practical and wonderfully helpful it has been to have an immunologist at my side.) The whole point of critical race studies is to STUDY RACE analytically so that when we need to deal with, examine or explain issues in our social/ economic/ etc system that is impacted by race or impacts race or simply discuss race itself, we have experts to turn to. So, if someone who has CLEARLY never studied anything about race is seen to have equal weight in an argument with an EXPERT in the field, it must be because you do not see Critical Race Studies as a legitimate field. . . And I wonder why THAT would be. . . . .

      1. Clearly, you have no respect for communications as a legitimate field, because you are disagreeing with an expert in communications.

        It isn’t consistent to claim that the usage created more recently is valid to the exclusion of the older usage. It is not even true to claim that there exists a person who uses a word in an incorrect manner.

        1. Face reality, dear people. We are existing in a trough of the new Dark Age, where there is no comprehension , no respect, and no interest in “critical race theory,” or any kind of exploration and results of mental study. I’ve written that we seem to be using the same referents–words in the American English language, but without awareness of what Breeze and cohorts, who are using their minds to learn and achieve beyond the status quo–ya know, join the ranks of those who have brought leadership and accomplishment to the species–we’re hearing empty vessels, void of the orientation and hard work of learning-thinking-evolving.

      2. SYL K makes an exceptional point IN CONTEXT. I would turn to SYL K for help with a communications problem. I would not turn to Decius for help with a communications problem because he ignores CONTEXT.

      3. @ deciusbrutus:
        I never made a claim about ‘recent’ vs. ‘older’ employment of terms. I made a claim about colloquial vs. legitimate employment of terms, especially with regard to colloquial usage that conflicts with legitimate usage. (In fact, I would argue that the way ‘racism’ was understood in the United States by our great, great grand-parents in the PAST greatly informs the ‘academic’, legitimate definition today in that it was situated within a white-supremacist framework. It seems to me (though perhaps someone can correct me on this) that the flippant, colloquial use of ‘racism’- regarded as independent of a white-supremacist framework- is a rather recent (reactionary, post-civil rights) phenomenon.

        Thank you for recognizing and pointing out the contextual aspect of my comment.

        1. SYL , I did nor reply to your inquiry re. “past” and the current use of “racism.” You address my continuous–beyond continual–reminder that everything has an antecedent, and that an absence of knowledge, and thus memory of that origin, its past, is a major stumbling block to knowledge and change, as progress.

          “Racism as “reverse-racism” is a term that was laughable, and not only as far back as third great grandparents,but of the still living, albeit aging elder generation. I attended my college class reunion May 16-19. From a beginning of more than two hundred we are now 36, one more having died since the reunion–with eleven in attendance. I assure you we are a mentally alert, physically slowed generation, the class of 1948, JC Smith U. None of this age group, and I think as late as those who graduated from college/university to about the early 1960s is unaware of the reversal of language, historical ignorance, and therefore, misinterpretations of meanings today.

          I tended to laugh when the a cohort of the ’60s said, “Don’t trust anyone over thirty.” Seeing the result, age tells me I should have cried; I had no idea that the knowledges of thousands to millions of years would be dismissed, ignored–unknown within forty years.

          I know of no way to remedy this ignorance, because attitudes, values, funds, curricula and personnel for conveying accurate information is being decimated, moment by moment. Given our vaunted “information age,” there is more trivia and insubstantial “noise” being broadcast in all media, including the academy, but no core framework of comprehension, assessment,and dissemination of a cohesive orientation-framework and principles. This WAS the role of the “Liberal Arts Education,” an evolved process in most cultures, whether academic or pragmatic that was taught to all students in the academy before the current “age of specialization.”

          Even the use of “colloquial” would not have identified the common/normal v. academic distinction. “Colloquial” was used to identify speech, not writing, and, only in some areas. The distinction between “academic” and “vernacular” was the terminology. “Colloquial” was, by some, used as a level below “vernacular.” Usage today can be seen as demonstrating a change in language over time. The changes are more than linguistic specialists can accurately record, and, given the fragmentation of cultures in all aspects, the plethora of tangents with a lack of acumen to “keep-up” with them, the best one would hope is that there be awareness and understanding of the process, making intelligent accommodation in thought (theory) and practice for differences over time. And please, it is always the common, the vernacular-colloquial that is the essence of theory that is, then, translated into the borrowed language of academia and specialization. Respect for that linkage, that trajectory, is, largely, unknown.

          Breeze’s interest in and pursuit of “The Sistah Vegan Project” is her prodigious expression of observation and experience, individual and practical, into universal and expert research. One is not segregated from the other, but a blend, seamlessly, of the universal ebb-flow–micro-macro-individual-communal. her contribution is exceptional in the real and academic world. To be unjustly criticized from no comparable insight and experience displays fearful reaction, and arrogant ignorance.

          We forget–or never know–that languages, spoken, written, signed, graphed, etc. are MEANS of communication, that humans concoct and delimit or expand them, that the communication is not the determinant, the communicator is! WE create language for our purposes, hence language is a tool, a technology. It appears that, as in the present physical world the tools–technology are in control we are willing to do the same with the basic tool–language–bow down and worship–a diversion.Please our techniques/technologies are means to ends, and supposedly make human life easier. Really; when we devise an overabundance of “what” as we jettison the “why?”

          Please, consider the analogy of money as a “means of exchange” and language similarly. We do not grow, eat and dispose of dollars-francs-euros, derivatives,etc., nor the same for words spoken, written, and electronically transmitted.

          This is no plea that younger generations cease or slow their legitimate process, but that academia take a leading, active role in healing a vital breach by beginning a mediating, clarifying role in the process. Unfortunately, I see the gap widening, as academia fails to assert a proper role, one of connectivity rather than divisiveness. Connectivity makes for, if not a universal language, at least multi-culturalism and communication in a world that has shrunk from a mad dash around it of “80 days.” to a shuttle jaunt of mere minutes.

          Contemporary isolation and specificity in thought and practice ensure a longer, deeper, and wider separation–with a giant chasm (see plate tectonics) as result.

      4. *Correction: I meant notions of what would later become ‘racism’ as used by our great, great grand-parents, not the actual term itself.

    3. Thanks “Brutus,” I think we can all agree that the woman with the PhD in race studies had it all confused until you came along to graciously explain “culture wars”! You will have your work cut out for you, I’m afraid, because hundreds of other researchers, scholars, and activists have collected quite a bit of evidence to support structural racism, environmental racism, and food deserts in areas with high populations of people of color.

  3. Breeze, I do not find many people, even those with advanced degrees, to be truly aware of how the mind and scholarship work. When education is looked at as a tool for jobs in a specific “field,” and not for growth in the life of the mind, the reactions you are getting are understandable. You’re dealing with the most basic human fear that can be expressed as “my ox is being gored.” This is a totally self preservationist attitude.

    Despite advanced degrees, years of study and experience I find that the basic concepts I was taught early in the social sciences, and open focused excursions in other disciplines (interdisciplinary) was the most valuable thing I could have learned. We have too many trained people, not enough educated ones.

    1. Kathi,
      I think it is important that you never question your qualifications or right to share your experience As an elder, I think of speaking colloquial and academic languages as simply being a kind of bilingual, and that that both and all languages are valid and valuable.Of course, being an Interdisciplinary scholar (encouraged by my parents to “be a Renaissance person,” I am biased toward a holistic perspective. Indeed, it is necessary to learn the language of whatever one does, but to dismiss other ways of using language–all discipline aspects are adaptations of the basic English-American language–here. I’ve observed proud disdain, even censure when a word has been used in its etymological/colloquial manner, rather than specialized nomenclature. My response is sadness for the lack of knowledge and subsequent pride in that ignorance.

      No one can change this rampant ideology in society. I’ve watched it develop, beginning in psychology, for four decades (“behaviorism”) and wonder if, and when, holistic realization will return. Oh well, all things cycle.

      Your personal ( anecdotal) experience in Detroit is a base on which research develops, as does mine in Chicago Combine a number of these “anecdotal” experiences, apply a formula, write your results as demanded, and and voila research. We must stop fighting one another and coalesce to cooperate. The enemy is large, and engorging.

  4. I am somewhat apprehensive in posting. I am feeling a bit insecure about my ability to articulate my thoughts effectively, but here goes: The history of segregation, redlining and continued prejudicial treatment does impact health and adequate food choices. I think when people are not aware of the history (and sometimes even if they are..) of segregation there cannot be a clear understanding of the foundation that so much strife and lack is built upon. I hope this makes sense – essentially when communities – such as Black Bottom in Detroit, were established, there was no sense of fair housing, safety or health concerns. Entire communities have been built upon this foundation – in their inception there were no street lights, no sewers, no clean water. Vestiges of squalor still exist in many of these areas. Folks are existing on food from party stores (liquor stores) and gas stations. No one wants to invest in these areas by opening a green grocer, juice bar or health food store. We are looking at the culmination of deeply rooted inequality.
    The good news – folks in Detroit are trying to make things better. There are community gardens cropping up. Elder folks are teaching younger folks how to garden and can. The word is getting out that the nutritionally bankrupt food at the corner store is making you sick. ( A Whole Foods store did open in Detroit yesterday, but it is in Mid-Town, an upper end, primarily business and entertainment district)
    In closing, I just want to add that I am hopeful more people everywhere get the information that a diet of beans, grains, vegetables etc. can be an affordable and healthier choice.

  5. As a native Detroiter, I feel the need to comment on animeindoorsir’s comment. A Whole Foods store opened here this week to an amazing reception. The first grocery chain in the City. Both a welcome occasion, but also a sad commentary on our society. I ask the poster to look about him/her and ask how easy it is for them to access fresh food. And if he/she has access, what choices do they make. In the City, there was no choice- it just wasn’t there. They middle class moved on after the plants were closed and jobs sent overseas, or south if the border. The tax base is gone. It is not a Black White issue. It is a Societal issue. It is larger than Race, but because those who had the ability to move on to greener pastures did so, it left those unable to move left. And yes, the majority are Black. Does that make us any less worthy, capable, or desiring of a better life? Is the poster aware if the many communities who have rallied to help themselves and there neighbors by starting urban gardens, mowing vacant fields and playgrounds, or starting a neighborhood watch? Are these the “morons” that are being referred to. You don’t often hear of these people. But they are there. And they will tell you the story of Detroit. The real story. Not just those who claim they left during the “white flight” of the 60s and 70s. I think J may have gotten off task here, but I get sick of those who claim to be so insightful about something they know nothing about. There are a few documentaries worth watching that may enlighten those who would like more information on our City: Detropia; DeForce; Requiem for Detroit, to start. This will give a start to understanding how communities were segregated early on, how people were displaced to make way for freeways, how people were brought here to work and the work was given away. It is not so cut and dry. So black and white. I just get tired of hearing about “those people” (whoever they may be) causing a of their own problems and those of the City as a whole.

  6. I held off posting this comment in response to Decius on Breeze’s earlier question about whether black people can be racist toward white people in the USA. But given the explicit attention Breeze here draws to the IQ issue, I think my “rant” is now warranted.

    Speaking as a USA white vegan male, I don’t think we can spin a serious conversation about TRUTH into some “not-in-the-real-world academic BS” because we don’t like the fact that we Caucasians get the short end of the narrative stick. What tough luck for us! It has been a hell of a lot harder for people of color, and it still is, on average. The least we can do is accept the facts and hold up our rightful share of the historical burden.

    Trying to lock Breeze away in some “ivory tower” will not erase the truth that she represents, and that truth is very much at the center of everyday life in the USA.

    At the same time, the implication that the ivory tower is not itself a painful warzone for people of color (especially women) is completely inconsistent with the data. Even the colonial intellectual expression “ivory tower” suggests a profoundly racist, slaveholding, anti-African institution.

    We need to think deeply about the inescapable historical links between racism and the development of Darwinism, social Darwinism, and capitalism. Evolution and capitalism are now widely taught and accepted over much of the world, but the way these concepts were developed and “exported” by the Europeans, they were wrapped up with pseudo-scientific ideas about the inferiority of non-Caucasian “races” (and cultures) as if these other “races” (and cultures) were sub-human “species” living in “primitive” conditions. This pseudo-scientific model was explicitly lightest skin-on-top, darkest-skin-on-bottom.

    Later, the idea of “sub-human” races was watered down, but it was not eliminated. What happened is that the white psychologists went in and built up this whole BS literature about racial differences in cranial capacity, intelligence, and the “g” factor, and in doing so they constructed a new IQ-based pyramid of “racial intelligence” on top of the earlier social Darwinian substrate.

    Through recent works like The Bell Curve, the clarity of this pyramid structure was obscured by a statistical misdirection toward the US middle class (because a global perspective would show the pyramid exactly as it is), but the link was nonetheless forcibly argued in The Bell Curve that heritable IQ “deficiency” was more pronounced among people of color and especially poor people of color.

    This specific pyramid of “racial intelligence,” together with overlapping pyramids of social Darwinism and free-market capitalism, is STILL DEBATED IN THE HIGHEST ACADEMIC, POLITICAL, AND DEVELOPMENT CIRCLES.
    It frequently re-appears through various forms of subtle racism in the US health and mental health literature.

    How can white moderates pretend we live in a post-racial USA? We need a “cover story” that allows us to overlook the continued existence of this sick pyramid. The cover story is a bunch of shoddy sociology about how “we are all racist,” and how white people can be the “victims” of “racism” just as much as anyone else, i.e., the whole “reverse racism” argument.

    As white vegans, we can all too easily add to this “cover story” (and thereby suppress the historical and living truth) by holding up our veganism as proof of how “enlightened” we are. We should be grateful when someone like Breeze comes along, and blows our ship right out of the water because she won’t let us cling to a superficial self-image of white “vegan moral superiority.”

    That ship was just a ship of fools, anyway – it was a delusional Titanic crashing into an iceberg of reality. Actually, it is not Breeze who is blowing white vegan delusionality out of the water, it is the iceberg itself: the iceberg of the racist income distribution pyramid that I hyperlinked above (and most of which lies “beneath the surface” of our “vegan” consumer choices here in the USA).

    Breeze’s work on vegan decolonization is a lifeboat.

    1. Jonathan: I can’t tell if you think that evolution and Darwinsm and capitalism are inherently racist, or if they were (mis)used to support racist beliefs, or some other option.

      The existence of evolution and of general intelligence are not seriously in doubt; but the claim that one race is “less evolved” is nonsensical in any context where evolution makes sense-there is no such thing as a measure of how “much evolved” or “how many evolutions” someone has.

      Likewise, the actual evidence shows very little correlation (I don’t have the p available right now) between the best (least sensitive to culture and education) measurements of general intelligence and race.

      There’s lots of anecdata of people clawing their way out of poverty due to high intelligence; It is less common to hear of a stupid person falling from a rich background into a poor one. (Lots of oversimplification in that line; take me figuratively rather than strictly)

    2. @ Gwendoline: Your comment humbles me, and reminds me what a unique gift it is to learn from the candor of so many wise women here in Breeze’s virtual seminar.

      @ Decius: Sorry to read so hard in what follows, but c’mon, be serious. You cannot tell what I think? Or you just don’t want to dig deeply into the inescapable historical links between racism, Darwinism, social Darwinism, capitalism, and IQ theory?

      These are such intertwined concepts of colonial oppression in the historical record that it is extremely difficult for ANYONE to honestly separate them.

      Ironically, after bashing Breeze for getting all “academic” versus “colloquial” in her presentation on racism, you are quick to turn “academic” in your discussion of evolution and IQ!

      There are a lot of white people in the USA who think evolution is a crock because it contradicts their consciously or unconsciously white supremacist interpretations of the Bible.

      There are also a lot of white people in the USA who think natural selection proves rich white people have higher heritable IQs than poor people of color, and they use this perverted belief to justify their continued position of unearned privilege in the whole sick system.

      Maybe you can let me know whether you think this is a fair statement of the “facts on the street” while you are looking up that lily-white, post-racial, ivory-tower p-value that proves racist elites aren’t still using IQ theory to hold down poor people of color in the USA.

      But keep this in mind: who else but a white supremacist – or the victim of a white supremacist society – needs a p-value to inform him that people of color are just as smart as whites, all else equal?!!

      1. Everyone who holds a Bayesian belief in anything needs a p-value between 0 and 1 for that belief. I, myself, actively try to adopt Bayesian beliefs about everything, because (hypothetical) people who share perfect Bayesian reasoning AND observations come to the same conclusion.

        Natural selection of heritable traits is the system by which positions of unearned privilege pass from one generation to the next, by the way. While I can separate evolution from racism, I can’t understand racism without understanding evolution.

      2. @ deciusbrutus:

        You said: “Everyone who holds a Bayesian belief in anything needs a p-value between 0 and 1 for that belief. I, myself, actively try to adopt Bayesian beliefs about everything, because (hypothetical) people who share perfect Bayesian reasoning AND observations come to the same conclusion.”


        I’ll just say three things. No good Bayesian tries to “adopt Bayesian beliefs about everything.” ONLY CERTAIN TYPES OF PROBLEMS OR SITUATIONS WARRANT ITS USE. A good Bayesian is able to distinguish the times it is appropriate to apply Bayes’ theorem and the many times it isn’t appropriate to apply it. I would argue that the race/ intelligence/ IQ problem isn’t something Bayes’ theorem could meaningfully address. This ties into my second point. Namely, the data needed to satisfy the four variables of the equation cannot be attained with any confidence. I’m not sure what your set of elements could possibly be (actually, I don’t think this value is even possible in a race/ IQ/ intelligence problem since the set of elements are supposed to represent possible outcomes *that depend on chance*), I’m not sure what event the “given” on which the race/ IQ/ intelligence factor would be conditionally possible, and you have absolutely zero starting conditional probabilities that define relations between the two terms about which you are attempting to form a new conditional probability. If anything, you’ll have grand, random, unhinged estimations. What are your sample points? What is the initial probability of the mysterious event (what is the event?!) What is the event that faithfully represents the sample space such that it is > 0? And on and on and on. I’d be interested to see this “actual evidence” that results in a reliable p-value.

        Lastly, even “(hypothetical) people who share perfect Bayesian reasoning and observations” would not necessarily share the same priors or chains of interpretation and come to the same conclusion. The efficacy of Bayesian reasoning is not dependent on whether or not rational agents come to the same conclusion.

        @ Jonathan:
        To everything you said in your rant: YES. Thank you for existing. Your mind is awesome.

      3. @SYL K:
        Bayesian reasoning is appropriate only for all beliefs.

        I believe that there is a very large probability that the distribution of IQ scores on a test which is culturally and educationally unbaised is pretty similar for each genetic ‘racial group’. I base this mostly on works such as Jencks and Phillips (1998) which indicate that the measured difference between ‘black IQ’ and ‘white IQ’ is cultural bias of the test instead of genetic difference.

        Note that the expected result of that belief is that it is likely that a ‘racial group’ with a much larger population will have more very smart people and more very stupid people than groups with a smaller population.

        Bayesian reasoning here helps me to judge the strength of evidence: P(E|H) compared to P(E|~H) is important when the hypothesis is “Race genetics and common variation in upbringing are largely irrelevant to g, AND the current IQ tests are somewhat culturally sensitive in the direction that people raised in American White culture score about 1-2 SD higher than people raised in American Black culture.” It can be hard to accurately judge the strength and direction of evidence intuitively.

      4. @ deciusbrutus:

        I am legitimately confused about what belief you are trying to update using the “evidence” supplied by IQ data. (Btw, the study you linked is precisely the mindset I find problematic. The obsessive focus on improving SAT or IQ (or any standardized) test scores merely reinforces the very methods in education that are responsible for producing and keeping in place the large gaps we find in “results”.)

        After taking a number of epistemology seminars (all of which have sections on Bayes’ rule, of course) and a seminar on the philosophical implications of Bayesian Statistics, I can only think of the following (gender biased but still relevant) remark made by one of my professors on the final session of one of my epistemology seminars to relate to you: “Now, don’t be that guy who appeals to Bayesian Statistics to figure out if the girl who bluntly told you “Stay away from me, creep!” really likes you or not. Whatever evidential weight you’re assigning to that time her hand accidentally grazed yours is probably way off.”

      5. SYL K:
        The relevant belief which I currently hold as most likely is roughly exactly what I said: “[genetic variation associated with race] and [nurture effects within reason] are largely irrelevant to [general intelligence], AND the current IQ tests are somewhat culturally sensitive in the direction that people raised in American White culture score about 1-2 [standard deviations] higher than people raised in American Black culture, [as compared to what the results would be on a test which was culturally insensitive].”

        I’m using the test results as a proxy for general intelligence; if you are disputing that general intelligence is a real thing that people have in different degrees, I’ve been missing your point. My conclusion is that race probably does not provide any evidence regarding intelligence, but that someone raised in Black Culture who has a test result equal to someone raised in White Culture probably has a somewhat higher general intelligence; the magnitude of the difference depends on the test used.

        Regarding your specific anecdote: Start with your priors for how often a Member Of The Appropriate Sex (MOTAS) likes you.
        Update on the first evidence; how likely is it that a MOTAS that likes you would brush your hand incidentally? How likely is it that a MOTAS that doesn’t like you would brush your hand? (Suppose that 8 out of 10 MOTAS that like you would flirt in such a manner, and that 1 in 10 would accidentally touch you; that ratio is 8:1.

        Now update on the second piece of evidence: How likely is it that a MOTAS that likes you would call you a creep if you acted in that manner? How likely is it that a MOTAS that doesn’t like you would call you a creep? Let’s say 5% of people who liked you would call you a creep at that point, and 75% of people who didn’t like you would call you creep. That’s 5:75. (I have low confidence in this ratio, but I think that the actual ratio yields stronger evidence against.)

        To combine these two pieces of evidence and judgement, just multiply the ratios: you get 40:75, or roughly 1:2. It is roughly 1/3 as likely that that person likes you as that the one that you have no evidence about does.

        I think a more likely mistake in that hypothetical example is having a desired conclusion, which results in rationalizing away evidence against one’s conclusion while multiply counting evidence for it.

      6. FACEPALM. Stop mansplaining Bayes’ rule to me! I already told you I’ve taken numerous seminars that focused on Bayesian inferences. Repeatedly laying out the formula and inserting arbitrary values doesn’t tell me 1) how you are justifying the determinations of your values or, more importantly, 2) why you really think appealing to statistical analysis is an appropriate or rational response to a person who claims that people of color are less intelligent than white people. (or, while we’re at it, why you think appealing to statistical analysis is an appropriate or rational way to determine whether or not a girl likes you even though she has told you to “stay away from me, creep”! Just because you are making up random values and plugging it into a formula doesn’t mean you’re getting anything meaningful out of it.)

        (Btw, on a non-argumentative note, I know you’re a big Bayes’ reasoning fan but I would encourage you to look into some logicians who think there are other rational ways to update credences. This is a vogue thing to discuss in epistemology sections of the philosophy of science. For instance, I especially think looking into Bas van Fraasen would be fun: he thinks conditionalization is *a* rational way (among others) to respond to fresh evidence. You can just google him- he’s one of the most famous logicians in the world so his stuff is easy to find.)

      7. @ SYL K: Thank you for the really kind encouragement and for stepping in here with such an instructive analysis. I have not been formally trained in Bayesian probability, but I thought I knew enough from self-study to distinguish a frequency p from a Bayesian p. So I read DeciusBrutus to shift his argument to a Bayesian p in order to avoid conceding my valid point that only a white supremacist or the victim of white supremacist culture needs to reference a frequency p in order to feel confident asserting that people of color are just as smart as whites.

        That he made this “sneaky shift” appears subsequently supported by his citation of Jencks and Phillips (1998), which advances an argument on the basis of frequency statistics, not Bayesian probability.

        More deeply on the Jencks and Phillips thesis – and I think you were leading the discussion in this direction, SYL K – we really need to ask whether people who indeed have more “general intelligence” will ever feel comfortable hobnobbing at the top of a racist social pyramid.

        DeciusBrutus also wrote, “Natural selection of heritable traits is the system by which positions of unearned privilege pass from one generation to the next.”

        I didn’t comment on that because it seemed like such a clear statement of social Darwinism – and such a clear misrepresentation of human evolution – that it proved most of my earlier points.

        What do you think, SYL K – do I have a fair handle on my probability theory and my evolutionary theory, or am I way off base on both counts?

      8. @ Jonathan:

        I still don’t quite understand what Decius’s natural selection/ unearned privilege remark means. Appealing to natural selection to explain inherited privileges seems rather superfluous. A better starting point might be to look at power structures culturally and economically in place. But then again, I can’t say too much because I’m not sure where Decius was going with that. Anyway, it seems, Jonathan, that you and I are on the same page about evolutionary theory (and pretty much everything else).

        Regarding Decius’s use of the Jencks and Phillips (1998) data, I (charitably?) assumed s(he) held an interpretation of probability that was in line with the frequentist view but used Bayesian inference (so, s(he) applied Bayes’ rule to that data). Maybe Decius can clarify?

        Anyway, even if clarifications are offered, I doubt this conversation will go anywhere because I suspect we are dealing with one of those WHAT?-I’M-JUST-AN-IDEAL-OBJECTIVE-RATIONAL-ROBOT-BECAUSE-N-U-M-B-E-R-S-WHAT’S-THE-BIG-DEAL? kind of people. (Sigh)

  7. This site, discussions and personalities reflect a nearly six decade observation-participation and reaction-response to life-study-experience, and most of all question. For the past two years health concerns have brought contemplation of just what the process we call living means. Nothing new there; so for all who reach this “time” in life. Breeze, is premier example of the generation of my eldest granddaughter (age 30 in four months.) Her work and life is, for me, a window into a facet of how I began, with appropriate variations., an intelligent, questioning, energetic spirit and person.

    Observing the identical mental constructs of obfuscation and denial, an even greater divide in crucial areas of race and gender, and the worst to my thinking waning strength, interest–even skepticism–that productive change can develop, I still question.

    From this elder the operational concept is separation. From the divide between academic and popular, to micro, even nano, parsing in every activity individuals and segments of the population avoid solving problems, meeting needs, living well. We segregate on every level and point. One writer I have read ( name forgotten) proposed that the humans dilemma is a misinterpretation of Darwin’s findings. Underneath the popularly known “survival of the fittest” is the more fundamental concept of cooperation. Under natural law, the feeding of one species on another to survive as a species, plant and animal, is dependent on adequate sustenance–air-water-space-nutrition. Until the intervention of humans, nature managed to maintain a balance. I have watched the run of the wildebeest in the Serengetti (sp), and what was obvious is that under natural law the herds–hordes–of wildebeest continue because of the balance of cooperation and, apparent, carnage.

    Humans are examples of killer bees–the invasion of an alien strain that leads to imbalance and annihilation.

    Someone wrote that nature always models in ways that humans–if they observe and follow–can benefit. By human arrogant superiority of inferiority we advance our own annihilation.

    Breeze has beautiful what I call “world children.” My granddaughters are similar, one African-European-Indigenous, two African-European-Asian. Moving from overwhelming micro-isolationist singularity these children have a future. If not, they may not. ( Do not?)

  8. To a certain extent, animeindoosir’s response to the lecture (which I could kick myself for missing) felt very related to the one of the questions asked during the Q&A. It was asked (in summary) how it was possible for vegan and/or animal rights activists/groups to dismiss concerns of others which broadened the discussion on veganism to include such issues as human rights; anti-racism, -sexism or -classism among others. Basically, the question was such that they (the person asking the question) had not experienced any such thing and that it should ‘go without being said,’ that any vegan would be as compassionate to animal rights as they would be the rights of farm workers, homosexuals, persons of color and so forth. Furthermore, if vegans were not in compliance with this clear understanding, what would their rational be for thinking differently?

    Like it should go without being said that people with low IQs won’t choose to eat carrots over candy bars because only “smart” people know how to purchase “healthy” food–who would argue this and why….???

    Hopefully the fact that I’m being facetious is obvious.

    What I don’t understand is why a “normal” experience in this country (USA) is constantly measured within the context of whiteness. When white people, and yah I’m going there, are asked to look outside of their whiteness why do they get so damn defensive!! I have to eat, sleep and shit whiteness everyday and for the past 37 years! I can’t get defensive about, I have to just accept it and when (because I always do) question it–white people turn around and get mad at me for questioning anything about their, and what should also be my, notion of normal!!

    Alright, that was a rant, nothing facetious about it.

    Final point–it was mentioned in the lecture about looking into yourself and coming to terms with consequences of the choices you make–whether you were aware those consequences or not. I’ve watched inner city neighborhoods in my area go through gentrification and now host a large variety of designer grocery stores, local organic produce stocked, which are now completely inaccessible to the formerly non-white community. These non-white folk have almost completely been displaced from their formerly low-income neighborhoods, which formerly hosted a large variety of corner stores that stocked a banana or two, to areas of suburbia that house mostly dollar stores and fast food chains. I have also listened another vegan blurt out, “it’s just like slavery,” in response to a lecture on animal cruelty while munching one of the cliff bars from the HUGE bowl of cliff bars that generously donated as snacks for the lecture. No, I’m not kidding either…animeindoosir’s comment is another experience of mine where I read something showing that people are still unable to look outside of their own comfort-zone, especially when it requires them to recognize they are wrong…

    1. Exactly…that is what drives me up the wall…instead of thinking: “Hm…this person surely wouldn’t be making these points just to insult me …perhaps we should have a dialogue about these issues,” it’s always going on the defensive and insulting the person who brought it up.

      Case in point…Free From Harm posted a blog on Friday vilifying Asians for the practice of “live sushi” (http://freefromharm.org/videos/farm-animal-investigations/help-stop-the-practice-of-live-sushi/)
      In the comments, I explained that framing the issue in the way that they did could be problematic. Here comes the onslaught of essay-length character attacks! “We’re not racist, you’re condescending and small-minded!” “You’re a moral relativist!”

      The truth is that we live in a white supremacy, the rules of the game are rigged to privilege whites and to validate white opinions. Whites aren’t used to getting challenged on that, they don’t know how to act! It just frustrates me to no end that these are topics that can’t even be discussed, they’re silenced with insults and ad hominems. Like Breeze explains in her talk, it can be hurtful to realize that you may be a part of hurting others…even unknowingly…it’s something we want to protect ourselves from. The animal rights movement touts that this is “all about the animals” but in many ways, it’s all about the privileged people who run it, it’s about their feelings, or their donations, or their popularity, etc. I’m not saying I’m perfect by any means, but I want to be better and I wish others in the movement would calm down and think about the consequences of their words and actions.

      1. I actually couldn’t even read all the comments on the linked blog–I got all fired up. Your response was pretty awesome and thank you for sharing it here. I absolutely agree that what becomes central to many movements are the convictions of the people who run them–in all ways, including privilege with or without awareness. And albeit I am all for making this world and our time on it as meaningful as possible, I am also all for an open exchange of ideas–even if they come at a cost. Nothing that Dr Harper said in the lecture would lead me to believe she feels that white people are hiding all the produce from black folks in Detroit, who are actually just too stupid to find it. Instead of having some ridiculous knee-jerk reaction to hearing the word ‘race’ in the same sentence as vegan, I just listened to Dr Harper speak and her intentions came out loud and clear.

        There is just no way that we can look at ethical practices, values or beliefs from one perspective–nothing could or SHOULD ever encompass so much. And regardless of whether a certain mass of folks like or not, the ways in which privilege shape their understanding of world must be called out in every and any context possible. One day, kicking and screaming, I think they might finally get it…I hope.

  9. Fear is the word that leaps from apologists and defensiveness. I experienced a “re-birthing” session with a therapist and uncovered an unconscious fear that I’d never known. 99% of what we do is rooted in our unconscious. Until a person is willing to risk confronting the secret darkness of the unconscious we live in fear that makes us lash out at presumed hurts–or say we do not “understand” a person-when we are, really, too frightened to face ourselves–existential cowards that we are.

    Many use the word “think,” when we are re-acting.

  10. I am not familiar with Bayesian statistical analysis.
    But I just find it disturbing that when someone makes statements that “black people speak like moron” and imply we have low IQs, I ask myself why one would even have to resort to a Bayesian model. Why is it so hard to out right say or realize, “What you just said is dangerous and racist and f$cked up?”

    Because when I hear someone say, “All homosexuals are immoral pedophiles”, I call their sh$t out and say, “You are a hateful homophobe . how do I know your violent language doesn’t mean you will or have engaged in violent actions towards non straight people?”

    Or when I hear someone say, “women wearing short skirts deserve when they get raped” I immediately call their sh$t out. I don’t know how each of us identify on this dialogue, but as a queer and legibly Black woman, I don’t have the luxury to pretend that these comments are not indicative of violent behavior. This use of Bayseian analysis brought forth by deciusbrutus seems like a white logic and white methods strategy to dismiss the fact that what animeindoorsir said was horribly racist, ableist, and classist. And I am referring to ‘White Logic, White Methods” the book. Please note, one need not be white male to engage in this ‘logic’ that dismisses the significance of how a white patriarchal supremacist ‘ethical system’ in the USA dominate mainstream consciousness. But rather, this model is the accepted ‘objective’ standard that has been widely accepted in the mainstream at least, to determine if someone or something is ‘racist’ or if non white people are pathological.’

    1. My only point so far with regards to the original statement has been that that it is both the cause and a result of bad communication. I’ve avoided bashing animeindoosir’s statements simply because I don’t have anything interesting to add to the bashing.

      My specific elaboration is that he was hearing “discriminatory on the basis of skin color” while you were saying “contributes to the current culture war”, and vice versa. If you have the goal of communicating with people, it is of great instrumental value to recognize what things effect good communication and use all of the tools available to you to make communication happen. There’s NO ethical or moral imperative attached, only a practical imperative.

      If the practical imperative isn’t sufficient for you, then I must conclude that you probably don’t want to effectively communicate; I cannot reconcile your having the stated goals that you have with you actively rejecting actual communication.

      1. Bullshit.

        Breeze’s communication skills aren’t to blame for the general failure to employ critical thinking skills (not to mention blatant racism) that prevents some readers* from understanding her work.

        *Mind you, I’ve observed that a large number of those who do not “get” Breeze don’t really READ beyond the title or introductory paragraphs of her work. Their inane comments make this painfully clear. You have to be a sociopath to conclude after reading such comments that BREEZE is the problem.

  11. Treading through this thread I look for a key flow as in repetition and/or examples to elicit congruity. I do this with any mental excursion. First, the obsession with a concept that is “non-scientific,” race, alienates me after a sentence or two. I’ve dealt with this lie for a lifetime, as have all who are ( and have been for hundred of years) adversely affected by Luddites of a particularly odious kind. DNA testing was done by a male family member, a female member who is the last direct progeny of a “branch,” and myself. Anyone who buys the “short-term memory” aspect of “race,” other than the human race is arrogantly ignorant. I am not familiar with Bayes, so I did a cursory reading, finding another human effort to make sense of a profound questions by means of profane methods, e.g., reductionist analysis when holistic realisation is necessary.

    Lastly, on participant-observer and research bases what the heck are “white culture,” and “black culture? I think you refer, properly, to class distinctions. Class, primarily economic:three generations or more of substantial wealth and education: prep/day and Ivy League or inner city/vocational community college components are primary determinants of high scores–in general–standardized tests of IQ and academic success. From a fourth generation college/university lineage, and a genetic east and west Africa, European (Scandinavia-German-Celtt-British-indigenous western hemisphere, IQ and test ranking resulted in high achievement in the class cohort with which I am familiar. If one’s father is a psychologist-college administrator and mother is a classical pianist, it should be no great surprise that a son would be a pioneer aerospace engineer at age 20. Opportunity-class-opportunity trumps non-existent race. CLosing already poorly functioning elementary and high schools in Chica, and other US communities affirms bias, not science.

    Standardized IQ and academic measuring devices measure what the creators (Princeton, etc.) know and judge appropriate from THEIR background including what is valued and taught in their educational system. Give a white an updated version of the BITCH test–Black Intelligence Test of ?? (long time since I’ve seen it, I’ve forgotten the rest)) and watch high scores plummet from a standard test. Whey would anyone want to be stand, anyway? Anyone who says they know all the aspects of intelligence is a liar. Can a white or black urban eight-year-old milk a Masai cow–a survival skill in Tanzania, or a Massi schoolchild take the subway across Manhattan? Intelligence is survival skill.

  12. <>

    Thank you. You make clear the rationale for thinking beyond–Logic. Many do not realize logic systems vary, by culture and conditioned perception. One size does not fit all. Ex: Traditional Chinese thinking begins with the general, proceeding to the specific. Most Western-Euro-American begins with a specific, and tends to maintain specificity. East is East and West is West and ne’er the twain shall meet.” Kipling. Not so in quantum theory and practice.

      1. Was it not you, Breeze, who referred to”logic?” My eyes are certainly not functioning as desired. I re-read/edit what I write as reply-comments, only to find all kinds of mistakes when I read the printed comment. I am chagrined. Sorry.

        Whoever mentioned “logic as flexible,m (my word) was the intended.

        I implore younger scholars to remember that our academic languages (note plural) are efforts to translate essentially pragmatic-colloquial thought and actions to a structured formulaic nomenclature that is understood by a select few. In this way, we “lock-out wider communication. A repeat: a psychologist-academic influenced me by saying, “The goal of the discipline is to give it away.” When a language does not translate-convey in meaningful ways to those beyond the inner sanctum, we are contributing to the demise of language and communication, not its enhancement-practically, theoretically or any evolutionarily productive way. So with our mental masturbation.

          1. Sometimes I am confused by the placement of post and comment. I found a reply of mine earlier in the thread than the referenced post. Maybe I’m not using the reply format correctly. I’ll try harder.

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