Why I Can’t Ignore Scientific Racism

For further context, please see the bluestockings editors statement.

*content notice: anti-Blackness, M. Dzhali Maier*

There’s this thing I always have to remind myself of. When waking up and fixing my hair. When sitting in a Sayles Hall. When watching the news or a movie. When passing a police car or seeing red and blue strobes. When being asked where I’m from and remembering that I don’t have the answers others expect. See, there’s this thing I always have to remind myself of, and usually because I reminded of it, or because it’s dangerous to forget, or just impossible. The thing is: I’m Black. I’m Black and I’m always aware of it.

Recently, the Brown Daily Herald published [three, not two] racist articles by the same student, all of which directly or indirectly espoused scientific and biological racism. In the summer of 2014, this same person had posted a video in a Brown University Facebook group that promoted the idea that intelligence was correlated to race (or else why would Africa be in such a bad position.) That post had been deleted after confrontation and followed up with two articles that also advocated that race was a determinant of intelligence. In the fallout of these two BDH articles being purposefully, then regretfully, published, this same person not only alluded to supporting scientific and biological racism, but openly admitted that they believed East Asian and white people were more intelligent than others, Black people were biologically more likely to commit crime, and Muslim people were naturally more likely to be terrorists. This was by no means the extent of their comments, though it was the end of my tolerance.

I love being Black, and I could list reasons, but this isn’t about that. Because being Black also means having to remind myself of it all the time. Being Black means remembering that the world hates me, remembering that I’m less beautiful (but light enough to be exotic), remembering that my family and I are at risk of being killed any moment, remembering that I will always be the exception, the affirmative action, the not too Black but still Black enough Black. Being Black means reminding myself that my race won’t be seen as the social barrier it is, but it will be seen as a biological one. Sometimes there are those moments where my defenses crack, and I wonder, “What if Black people are biologically inferior…what if I am?”

When you grow up in a society that teaches you to love hating your Blackness, it can be hard to convince yourself that you aren’t inferior. It can take years, decades, whole lifetimes, and even then never be achieved. And when you finally think you’ve beaten white supremacy and embraced your Blackness, you remember: I’m Black. You might slip up and think, “How can the whole world think you’re inferior, but you have the audacity to think it isn’t true?” And you wonder what could be so essential about your blood that could make so many people hate you, even yourself. And by this point, it’s not about the evidence against a biological basis of race, or understanding the social systems that perpetuate racism. Because at this point, you remember that you are Black, not the proud or beautiful kind, but the Black you have to come to terms with all over again.

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