Is Kanazawa Right? + Update

Study on Black Women?

See update!

So, by this time, I’m sure you’ve heard about the article published, briefly, by Dr.  Satoshi Kanazawa from the London School of Economics on Black Women so I won’t go into detail about it. What I will do is ask you to contemplate the importance of Standpoint Theory, the issue of the researcher’s own schema along racial constructions that provide for his authorship and role of designer, and the demographics of his respondents during your critical analysis.  

On one hand, besides the historical and social implications that challenge and perhaps illuminate the skewed data that exists in the results and problematic issues within the methodological design for that matter, one must first, allow him to have his “scientific opinion” and then, ask yourself why a person, other than an African American social researcher/scientist, feels a sense of entitlement, privilege to author such a study without being a part of the culture it is studying? Who gave him this power? A general research question-do we simply rely on the numbers alone and their interpretations to explain a persons thoughts or emotions that reveal themselves in number selection? Does this study reveal the weakness of quatitative studies so that there is atleast a discussion of triangulation for studies as controversial as this?  Does it mean that we should look at the professor’s studies and then conduct some of our own?

Let’s move away from this and contemplate some of these realistic scenarios…How is it that a European American, alone, can decide if he or she has racist tendencies towards African Americans or other persons of color? How is that a man,alone, can decide if men oppress women?

Feminists have said that they can’t and have implemented Standpoint Theory, empowering women to write their own stories since they are a part of the culture being examined from the position of the ones being oppressed. Patricia Hill Collins, bell hooks, and others have said, let the marginalized speak for themselves since they are a part of the culture being examined from the position of the ones being marginalized.

 So, now, and again, we have this. Someone, other than an African American, writing about an African American culture and their people–a phenomenom that he writes about with limited existentialistic aspects to frame his initial movements, purpose, methodology, or the results.

I will say this, when African American scholars write about such contemplations, when they write about African American phenoms, the majority of individuals who read the literature are black themselves. Therefore, in some ways, they and their studies and their books are, again, marginalized. Ownership, appropriate Authorship comes to mind. I know of many scholars who actually put in the time and effort to publish their important work but because their work doesn’t “speak to the masses” the majority of their work is not usually published in mainstream publications. Therefore, again, no one reads it but “the choir.” I propose that the work should and does speak to the masses and a lot of them would like to listen. I would also argue that because of the gallant efforts of so many, we can’t say that good work is not done by Black Academicians.

 Now, let me move from the academy and ask you another question. Have we, African Americans, done anything to allow such practices to exist in the 21st century? 

Name one other race IN THE WORLD that is making billions upon billions upon billions of dollars by calling their women “hoes” “bitches” and so on? Name another race or marginalized group that is making millions of dollars by putting each other down, calling each other “niggah” outloud! Of course there is the southerner, the cable guy, Foxworthy and such who have taken ownership of their personae and image portrayals and making a nice dollar for it, but if you listen to some of the rhetoric, the characters really come out on top and are not as “dumb” as people think. I must confess and say that while I applaud their efforts, I wish they didn’t feel the need to put themselves down or make fun of themselves, the way they dress, talk, think just to speak to the masses. I think they’re just fine just the way they are. But, I digress and thank you for obliging me the moment.

Getting back to my point, when was the last time you heard a white homosexual make millions of dollars by using the word “faggot over and over and over again?” And it’s not just about race, black men are the ones who should hold the black woman up in public, but the majority of them are not? Really, are we doing a good job?

Finally, when was the last time there was such an uproar about a song online or on the radio or television from a black male artist that verbally and psychologically abuses women — let alone, teaching others how to talk and treat us–pulled from the air, lyrics pulled offline? Black women have been molested, raped, denigrated, chastised, disrespected in so many ways for so many years that this practice, is now an accepted form of perception and perpetration on a state, country, and even GLOBAL level? Where is the uproar? Where is the outcry?  

Since the recording industry and now the film industry and other media forums have built, with some black people, the platform to put black women down, even in our own movies…are you really surprised at such a study? If you’re mad at Dr. Kanazawa, why aren’t you mad at how some of our film directors, producers, and writers put down black women in their movies? That’s a study. Why aren’t you mad about how black women are sung about in records you hear daily? That’s a study. Why aren’t you mad about the neighbor down the street disrespecting your neighborhood, your neighbor, his girlfriend, her boyfriend, mothers, daughters, fathers, brothers. That’s a study. 

I think this professor’s study has some points that should be examined carefully…and I further argue that if this study was conducted by an enlightened African American scientist, (no offense to the professor really), then perhaps the title, results, methodolgy, even the questionnaire, would have all been processed differently.

I guess my point is, after you calm down from attacking the individual, which in AMERICA, you can and you should do, take the time to examine the SYSTEM and not always the person to find out what is truly problematic about this study and its dissemination. Is this study factual, flawed, and are the respondents experts on what constitutes beauty for everyone?

Move from the margins and take ownership of your images and your sense of self as individuals and as a people.

Just a sip of knowledge to swish around.


Published in: on May 20, 2011 at 2:04 AM  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Excellent blog! Everything you are saying I agree with. We attacked Kanawaza, which I think was appropriate to do, but we also need to be raising our voices against the misogyny, colorism and denigration of Black women among “the masses.” You reasoning makes sense. Very glad I stumbled on your site.

    I just wrote a sort piece on making the business case for diversity. Take care!

    • Hello, Hope all is going well….I’m at an awesome conference right not…extremely enlightening…Faculty of Women of Color in the Academy….and thought about out exchange some time ago…smiling… the fight continues…
      Hope all is well in your world…

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