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In the United States African born blacks and their offspring exceed American born whites in many socio-economic indicators (particularly in the areas educational attainment and occupational status) in ways that resemble the gaps observed between native born white and black Americans in those same indicators (Charles, 2007; Le, 2007; Le, 2007; US Census Bureau, Census 2000. "5% Public Use Microdata Sample.") Something else to note, according to the New York Times (Roberts, 2005), for the first time in history more blacks are coming to the United States from Africa than during the slave trade. Immigration figures show that since 1990 more Africans have arrived voluntarily than the total who disembarked in chains before the United States outlawed international slave trafficking in 1807. In other words: black African achievement can not simply be dismissed as that of a “small group” of elites entirely unrepresentative of the greater continent. Moreover, the academic attainment and occupational achievements of African blacks have been documented in the UK (Li and Heath, 2006; Dustmann, Theodoropoulos, 2006) as well as in Canada (Guppy and Davies, 1998; Boyd, 2002).

By Bernie Douglas (December 27, 2007)

What is IQ, and Why the Controversy?

IQ is a culturally, socially, and ideologically rooted concept; an index intended to predict success (i.e., to predict outcomes that are valued as success by some people) in a given society. The items on these tests are largely measures of achievement at various levels of competency (Sternberg et al, 1998a, 1999, 2003a) and are devised impressionistically by psychologists to simply mimic the psycholinguistic structures of schooling and middle class clerical/administrative occupations (Richardson, 2002). Alfred Binet, the IQ’s inventor, originally devised the IQ test to screen children for educational difficulties, and made clear its conceptual foundations (See Richardson, 2002). IQ tests are, and were originally designed to be nothing more than devices for generating numbers that are useful in assessing academic aptitude with in a given culture. Most traditional Intelligence tests measure specific forms of cognitive ability that are said to be predictive of school functioning, but do not measure the many forms of intelligence that are beyond these more specific skills, such as music, art, and interpersonal and intrapersonal abilities (Braaten and Norman, 2006). Moreover, neither IQ tests nor any tests except dynamic tests (see Sternberg & Grigorenko, 2002a) that require learning at the time of the test, directly measure ability to learn. Traditional tests focus much more on measuring past learning, which can be the result of differences in many factors, including motivation and available opportunities to learn.

There is to this day no clear evidence that conclusively demonstrates IQ tests to measure either an inborn property (Hirsch 1970, 2004; Schonemann, 1997c, 2005; Kempthorn 1978, 1997, Capron et al, 1999) or what is commonly understood to mean “intelligence:” Intelligence is a highly subjective construct which remains largely undefined (Schonemann, 1997c; Sternberg, 1988; Cole et al, 1971; Guttman, 1955). This has not, however, stopped many ardent IQ advocates from continuing to promote the IQ test’s practical merits for predicting academic success and job performance in Western market based societies. Some of the more zealous IQ advocates have even gone so far as to suggest that the reason many blacks and minorities do not achieve in the areas of academic attainment and occupational status may be the result of low IQ, and not because of other more pressing societal factors. Ignoring historical events (e.g. slavery, Jim Crow) economic and educational biases (Pattillo,1999; Diamond and Spillane 2004; Roscigno, 1998), the affects of culture and cultural differences (Valsiner, 2000; Cole et al. 1971; Serpell R., 1979; Ogbu and Simons, 1998), the questionable methodology and theory involved in IQ testing (Schonemann, 1997a; Guttman, 1955, 1992; Hirsch, 1970, 2004), strong criticism leveled against heritability estimates (Capron et al, 1999; Schonemann, 1994, 1997c; Hirsh, 1970, 2004 ; Kempthorn; 1978, 1997; Lidz and Blatt, 1983; Joseph, 2004, 2006) and test bias (Manly, 1998), IQ advocates generally proceed with their arguments, unaltered.

For example, in 1994 authors Herrnstein and Murray argued in their controversial book “The Bell Curve” that a dysgenic trend exists in western societies that foresee the establishment of a “cognitive elite.” Although their work was subject to wide and often scathing criticism, the authors still managed to generate a substantial amount of media attention, which would help to perpetuate negative ethnic stereotypes in both the formal literature and in public discourse, for a number of years. Other IQ advocates have argued that a general index of cognitive ability is the best single predictor of virtually all criteria considered necessary for success in life in the Western part of the developed world (Jensen, 1998; Schmidt, Ones & Hunter, 1992). Efforts have been made also to show that undergraduates, those who graduates from college, must possess IQs that are on average no lower than 115 (Ostrowsky, 1999; Gottfredson, 1998), while an IQ in the range of 125 is necessary for those individuals who are able to obtain a graduate level degree (Gottfredson, 1998). These kind of studies generally serve the purpose of suggesting that the reason many blacks and minorities (as well as others) do not go on to, or graduate from institutions of higher learning - and ultimately on to professional careers and economic success - is not due to matters relating to personal interest, financial ability, or quality of schooling received in the past, but instead, because of factors relating to IQ (e.g. Jensen 1998; Gottfredson, 1998). This line of argument also tends to lead back to tiresome debates about nature vs. nurture. In this case, does more school develop high IQ, or does a high IQ equal more school?

African Blacks Exceed Whites in Educational Attainment and Professional Employment:

African-born blacks comprise 16 percent of the U.S. foreign-born black population and are considerably more educated than other black immigrants (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000). The vast majority of these immigrants come from minority white countries in East and West Africa (e.g. Kenya and Nigeria), and less than 2 percent originate from North or South Africa (World Factbook, 2004; Yearbook of immigration Statistics, 2003). In an analysis of Census Bureau data by the Journal of Blacks in higher education African immigrants to the United States were found more likely to have a college education than any other immigrant group, which included those from Europe, North America and Asia (also see U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000). African immigrants are also shown to be more highly educated than any native-born ethnic group including white and Asian Americans (see also, Logan & Deane, 2003; Williams, 2005; The Economist, 1996; Arthur, 2000; Selassie, 1998).

Most current data suggest that between 43.8 and 48.9 percent of all African immigrants in the United States hold a college diploma (Charles, 2007; U.S. Census, 2000). This is slightly more than the percentage of Asian immigrants to the U.S., nearly “double” the rate of native-born white Americans, and nearly four times the rate of native-born African Americans (Williams, 2005; The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, 1999-2000). Black immigrants from Africa have also been shown to have rates of college graduation that are “more” than double that of the U.S.-born population, in general (Williams, 2005). In 1997, 19.4 percent of all adult African immigrants in the United States held a “graduate degree”, compared to 8.1 percent of adult whites (a difference of more than double) and 3.8 percent of adult blacks in the United States, respectively (The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, 1999-2000). This information demonstrates that America has an equally large achievement gap between white Americans and African born immigrants as between native born white and black Americans.

In the UK, 1988, the Commission for Racial Equality conducted an investigation on the admissions practices of St. George's, and other medical colleges, who set aside a certain number of places for minority students. This informal quota system reflected the percentage of minorities in the general population. However, minority students with Chinese, Indian, or black African heritage had higher academic qualifications for university admission than did whites (Blacks in Britain from the West Indies had lower academic credentials than did whites). In fact, blacks with African origins over the age of 30 had the highest educational qualifications of any ethnic group in the British Isles. Thus, the evidence pointed to the fact that minority quotas for University admissions were actually working against students from these ethnic groups who were on average more qualified for higher education than their white peers (Cross, 1994; Also see, Dustmann, Theodoropoulos, 2006).


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