Sacramento high school science fair project questioning African American intelligence sparks outrage

“Students, parents and staff at C.K. McClatchy High School are upset over a science fair project by a student in its elite magnet program that questioned whether certain races of people lack the intelligence to handle the program’s academically challenging coursework,” the Sacramento Bee is reporting.

Some of those outraged by the racially charged project say it points to a larger problem: the lack of ethnic diversity in the school’s elite HISP program.

“The project that started the controversy was titled ‘Race and IQ.’ It raised the hypothesis: ‘If the average IQs of blacks, Southeast Asians, and Hispanics are lower than the average IQs of non-Hispanic whites and Northeast Asians, then the racial disproportionality in (HISP) is justified.’

“The project was put on display with others on Monday afternoon to be judged by a team of community members as part of the fourth annual Mini Science Fair. It was removed Wednesday morning after students, parents and staff complained. The science fair was open to students and parents.

“The controversial project also included a bibliography and quotes from five books, one a text from 1904 called ‘The Essential Kafir’ that argued South African blacks were intellectually inferior to whites. The term ‘kaffir’ has since evolved into a racial slur in South Africa, where it is sometimes referred to as the “k-word.”

“’I think that a lot of people, especially of color, are really hurt and upset by this,’ said Chrysanthe Vidal, a senior in the HISP program.

“She said the student who prepared the report has a history of making racist remarks in class. He is described by peers as a boy of Asian descent and a participant in the accelerated Humanities and International Studies program, or HISP. The Sacramento Bee did not speak to the student and is not identifying the minor.

“The HISP program is designed to promote cultural awareness and sensitivity. Often, it includes alternative viewpoints on history. For example, one HISP student said that while learning about Christopher Columbus, students also learned about “the Indian genocide” and the perspective of Native Americans on white settlers.

“The program currently has 508 students enrolled, including 12 African American students, 80 Hispanic students and 104 who are Asian, according to data provided by the district.

“’We’ve clearly not progressed as much as the students want to think we have,’ said one freshman in HISP. “It’s just kind of shocking to think someone could enter into that program knowing that is what we are learning about and being so closed-minded.

“The idea of race being tied to intelligence has a long and controversial history and is considered fringe.

“Many notions involving ethnicity and ability are popular with the so-called alternative right movement, and have gained increased prominence recently as topics of race and immigration have dominated national rhetoric.

“Recently, some academics argued that President Donald Trump was alluding to race and intelligence when he questioned why American immigration policy should allow people from certain African, Caribbean and Central American countries to come to the United States instead of people from countries like Norway.

Principal Peter Lambert also Thursday sent an email message to parents. “I want to be clear that at McClatchy High School we promote and embrace an inclusive environment and way of thinking which excludes any form of discrimination,” he wrote.

The rest of the article is here.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

3 thoughts on “Sacramento high school science fair project questioning African American intelligence sparks outrage”

  1. An interesting local connection, one of the books quoted in the article is Charles Murray’s “The Bell Curve”

    “In the United States, the notion of a racial tie to intelligence gained notoriety with “The Bell Curve.” The 1994 book by political scientist Charles Murray brought the idea into the national consciousness, though it has been widely criticized by mainstream scientists.”

    “Many notions involving ethnicity and ability are popular with the so-called alternative right movement, and have gained increased prominence recently as topics of race and immigration have dominated national rhetoric. ”

    Is this the same Charles Murray that our local ‘American nationalist’ blogger George Rebane describes as, “…the country’s preeminent sociologist and author Charles Murray. ”

    I think it is folks 🙂

    Having read both The Bell Curve and Coming Apart: The State of White American 1960-2010 by Charles Murray [because to understand systemic racism one must crawl the dark alleys of the American psyche] I believe this is just a natural progression of the mainstreaming of racism as an acceptable political philosophy by the aggrieved who fear the future.

  2. From a 1980’s IQ test geared toward urban black people, that I had to take in college. Most non-black students failed it, I barely squeaked by .
    Some sample questions were:
    “When is Mother’s day?”
    “Who was Marcus Garvey?”
    Who was the “Bird”.
    “What does TCB mean?”
    When the test is geared to a single culture, you get skewed results.

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