Friday, October 19, 2007

RTF: White Intellectual Supremacy? No Way!

It is really my desire to be filling this space with constant posts. Nonetheless, due to other life realities, it is very difficult to accomplish that desire. Just to let you in on a little secret, blogging is not as easy as it seems. Man, you have to scratch your head thinking of what you want to reflect on. You have to make sense, otherwise why expose your limitations to the entire world?

My point is that is difficult to do this. A fellow blogger once admitted that too. The pressure comes from the fact that you have to keep your faithful readers. And doing that is not a tiny little task. Honestly, I wish I had a photoblog at times, where I would let the photos speak for themselves. But just kick back and relax, I will not betray your loyalty. I will stick with what I do.

So it is Friday again. Man, at this speed, it will be 2010 before we know it. Is it just me or what? Life seems to be flying by so fast. I don’t think life went by this fast when I was five years old.

Why don’t we just straight to what I wanted to share? Well, I happened to bump into a story on CNN. In a nutshell, Dr. James Watson, a Nobel Prize winner in 1962 for discovering the DNA double helix (whatever that is for some of us lay folks) claimed that black people are less intelligent than white people. Phew!

Makes you want to kick the heck out of this guy to Mars or whatever planet ignorant people go, doesn’t it? See, I am not one of those folks who would just go into a defensive mode when sensitive issues, such as racial biasness are brought up. I would like to think of myself as open minded to logical explanations and scientifically proven rationale for making certain assertions, such as racial superiority or inferiority. Lack of such scientific proof makes the assertions more bigotry driven than anything. And I think Dr. Watson just proved that being “intelligent” does not really change one’s attitude.

I knew that such a statement would some day come up about Africans. It was a matter of time. Don’t get me wrong, I am not letting Africans off the hook for things they can control but have no desire to. And as such, I can see where Dr. Watson is coming from. As an African, I wonder why Africa is not making any meaningful progress. And honestly, I have tried to provide my own suggestions, based on personal experience of the African mentality and attitude (I still have brothers and sisters in Tanzania, and I know exactly how they see life). Nonetheless, it is ridiculous to make a conclusion that Africa’s problems are based on intelligence and not other factors.

Well, talking about intelligence, it could be true that Africans are less “intelligent”. But the aspect of their intelligence that is lacking is not the one attributed to nature, but more of an environmental factor. If I still remember my psychology well, intelligence is a result of two factors – nature and nurture. So you could be intelligent naturally, but as long as you are in an environment that does not stimulate other senses, you are bound to act less "intelligently", while you are really not that stupid. Isn’t that what they call conditioning?

The environment, which includes our cultural norms, shapes our values, attitudes and the way we view life. An American kid, for instance, has a different idea of what success in life is from what a Tanzanian kid in Kigoma. While an American kids would view having savings in a bank account as a financial security, a kid in north Uganda would consider having a large herd of cows as providing security and a sense of accomplishment. As such, the interpretation and implementation of social policies that has worked so well in the West would be different for an African. And that has nothing to do with natural intelligence.

From my perspective, Dr. Watson’s comments are just plain stupid. May be he is a good student of DNA, but a worse student of psychology and social sciences that as much important in explaining human experience as the DNA discovery. And I can never find any excuses for such a lame, myopic thinking. And how old again is this dude? He is 79 years of age. And from a scientific standpoint, he is hitting the senescence stage. No wonder he is making stupid comments. Some just age badly.

Dr. Watson, let me brag a little bit for you. Despite my blackness, I have appeared, including plenty of other African colleagues I know, on the Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities publication. And just to let you know, we didn’t make the list as a favor from some “intelligent” white person, but due to our academic and intellectual prowess. I have passed one tough professional certification examination on one sitting, while a number of my white counterparts had gone through the examination for more than five years, failing. So go eat that!

Let me stress this point again: the failure social policies that has worked well in the West to take root in the African countries has nothing to do with intelligence, but other social factors that are mainly due to the African environment. And I would expect an intelligent person as Dr. Watson to step out of his stupid prejudice and do a little bit of a social research. My belief is that Africans need an internal paradigm change and not some “intelligence pills” from the West.

For all of you good people, who despise bigotry and prejudice, cheer up. Just know that once in a while, you will come across a stupid person with a doctorate (kind of remind you of all those PhD holders in Tanzania who are looting the country?). Intelligence with a wrong mental attitude could certainly be good for nothing.

No wonder King Solomon asked for wisdom instead.

Enjoy your weekend.


Photo Credit: BBC


Anonymous said...

Good post Metty! And it really is amazing what people can come up with to prove their intellectuality (if thats a word anyway)The main thing is to know who you are and what you are capable of;these stupid scietific proofs and all that crap does not detect who you are maaann!! so cheer up as Metty said and enjoy life for you are fearfully and wondefully made.

Anonymous said...

Well said.
I will also add that Africans have never really had any control of their own affairs.
The facts are the forward thinking leaders like Nkurumah and Lumumba were removed by guess who and replaced with idiots.

Subi said...

Metty, thanks for being strong enough to be able to air out your '2 cents'. I am full of mixture of anger and sorrow with regard to these demeaning words of the said scientist.

All that I can say is, 'That was a good try, I will not be belittled. We shall conquer! Aluta continua! We are not going to bow down. We shall do all we can to prove otherwise and we are going to make it happen".

Mchangiaji said...

If Mona lisa drawing on display in france is priceless, and historically was called a drawing of a super genius, Hey what about MMASAI mastering sculpturing of a kinyago out of a piece of a wood from a tree.. What would you call that ???

I think in some instances we have been robbed of our intellects and and gradually transformed onto whites folks idea.

Tell me again who discover America, Mount Kilimanjaro, so on so forth.

It is all about our psycho and mastering of marketing.. White folks are good at that.

By Mchangiaji.

Subi said...

Metty, read this: Nobel-winning biologist apologizes for remarks about blacks.
Here is the link:

wayne said...

wow - I'm a little embarrassed just being mzungu after reading what Watson said. However, I think it needs to be pointed out that contrary to what some people believe (and even, apparently, some commenter's on this post) not all wazungu can be lumped into one group any more so than one can lump all Africans, or all African-Americans, or all Chinese, or all any other group can be lumped together and say that "Africans are this way or that way or Chinese are this way or that way. What one can say is Watson is obviously misinformed and ignorant of true science. The conglomerating of all people from a particular language or cultural or geographic or skin color or other identifiable grouping criteria into one blob for the purpose of stereotyping or labeling is, in my opinion, one of the foundation stones of bigotry. It matters not who the target group is (white, black, something in-between)- all forms of bigotry are founded in ignorance and fear.
We should make clear our disgust for the Watson's of the world, but not all white people. We should make clear our disgust for the Charles Taylors of the world, but not all Africans. Do you see my point?

Hiza said...

THERE ARE RACIAL DIFFERENCES IN INTELLIGENCE. OUCH! THAT HURT MY BACK! He says that he is "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” Well, this is devastating news. What Watson has attained cannot be taken away - many guiltless people are free today because DNA technology proved that they could not have committed the crime for which they were convicted (Just last month a man from Texas was release after spending 12 years in prison for the clime he did not commit – Thank you for DNA) - but it also expresses the peril of knowing too much and this guy doesn’t care if he pisses off a few people with what he says about his unfound fact.

By the way I recommend to read DNA, by Watson. (Got from eBay for only 10$) . Also read this article The controversy of intelligence theories


kifimbocheza said...

FYI, he has now resigned as a result of this...

Subi said...

Metty, How about this:

James Watson, famous for DNA research but widely condemned for recent comments about intelligence levels among blacks, retired Thursday from his post at a prestigious research institution.

Jaduong Metty said...

It is definitely wonderful that Dr. Watson called it quits. It is not only victory to black folks, but for all people who believe in the fact that we are all created in the image of God. It is victory to everyone who despises bigotry.

But if you leave the fact that we all are equal before God, this is just victory to intelligence and common wisdom.

As I said, intelligence is not a guarantee of wisdom. Apparently, Dr. Watson was a little short on the wisdom supply.

Anonymous said...

I am a black African and I totally agree with Dr. Watson for one good reason: what I see happening among the black community and especially in Africa is quite divastating!

The African continent if free from colonial rulers for about 50 years now, the continent has adequate resources, enough scholars, who could change the condition yet nothing absolutely is being done. Even if you take the black community in a developed world, you will find that the trend is the question of environment here!

Africa is moving backward instead of advancing forward and it needs no a university degree to note the trend! Economic indicators show that some of the African countries in 60's were at the same level as South Korea and other Asian countries, but the countries in Africa are still importing even toothpicks!

You might be acusing Dr. Watson for being very open and frank, but I think he has spelled the fact, which most of human right organisations do not want to hear. Though Dr. Watson has tendered his resignation, but his words will still be remembered by those who look at things critically and subjectively!

I don't believe that our leaders have to make expensive trips in Europe and North America to beg for "soft loans" and assistance now and then...for me it is a great shame!...most of the countries in Africa including mine are depending on foreign countries to supplement their budgets by 40% to 50% and we still see it as a normal thing! How long shall we be beggers and recipients of the conditional loans?...there is something wrong with our minds and that is where Dr. Watson is right!

I am quite sure even those who regularly donate to our budgets one day will get tired of it!...I remember one day when our Prime Minister gathered diplomats froma donor countries to beg for assistance (there was a famine), one of them asked our Prme Minister an embarassing question...He said, "We are ready to help and we have been doing that anyway, but how long shall you be gathering us here to ask for assistance?"..He was very frank and that is the trend!

I can give a lot of examples about black people to prove the fact put forward by Dr. Watson!...I am convinced that even white people whenever they see us coming again to beg, they become so irritated behind the doors!

Jaduong Metty said...

@Anonymous 7:31AM
In this very article, I acknowledged that I understand why Dr. Watson made such remarks. As a matter of fact, this very blog is full of questions and challenges to the African society to make a paradigm shift.

The question of intelligence is scientific. No concrete evidence has been presented to prove that Africans are less intelligent. However, from my own perspective, the underlying problem is cultural than anything. Dr. Watson, as a scientist, narrowed his viewed a little bit, and that's where the problem is.

Let's be practical on the issue of intelligence. Don't we have African professors and doctors who studied and performed exceptionally well in the Western institutions? The problem has to be something else other than "natural" intelligence then.

My take is that the problem is culture and wrong attitude. Period. The worst part is that Africans are afraid of self-introspection to really tell how stinky they are.