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Caption: Scholar W.E.B. DuBois criticizes intelligence testing as another attempt to claim a false scientific basis for white supremacy.Read plain text of document
Scholar W.E.B. DuBois was also an editor of The Crisis, a magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (or NAACP). DuBois wrote a short editorial in the magazine, responding to claims that intelligence test scores showed Black people to be less intelligent than white people.
DuBois deployed several arguments against this claim that, while false as he said, has remained enduring.
DuBois also placed intelligence tests on a long timeline of attempts to find a biological basis for claims of racial superiority or inferiority. White supremacists had tried to weigh the brains of deceased people and categorize those by race. Then there was “craniometry,” or the measuring of skulls. Neither were sources of meaningful information, and nor is the intelligence test, DuBois implies.
Date: July 1920
Creator: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, The Crisis, Volume 20, No. 3, July 1920
Source: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, The Crisis, Volume 20, No. 3, July 1920
Copyright: Public Domain
How to cite: “Race Intelligence” in New York City Civil Rights History Project, Accessed: [Month Day, Year], https://nyccivilrightshistory.org/gallery/race-intelligence."
- What are DuBois’s criticisms of intelligence tests? There are several different ones, so make sure you find more than one.
- What does DuBois mean that “the average included most of both races”? How are the mathematics concepts of “average” and “range” a part of his argument?
- What do you notice about DuBois’s rhetorical style? How does he write this piece? How do you think he wants his readers to feel?
- DuBois points out one kind of question on the IQ test and implies - but does not state why - it is unfair. Why is it unfair to ask test takers to “complete pictures where the net was missing in the tennis court or the ball in the bowling alley”?
- What criticisms do you have of the other items on the test?