Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Where is Psychology Today's Accountability?

Sorryphoto © 2007 patrick kiteley | more info (via: Wylio)

By now I am sure that many of you have heard about the racist article entitled, Why Are Black Women Less Attractive by Satoshi Kanazawa that was published by Psychology Today. I first read about this article on a blog. and when I went to the Psychology Today site, I found that it had been removed without a trace.  After searching the internet for awhile, I finally found a copy of the entire article.

There can be no doubt that what Kanazawa wrote was both intellectually dishonest and prejudicial (note: I use the term prejudicial instead of racist because Kanazawa is a man of colour and does not exist with the institutional power to be racist.) Just look at this for example:
There are many biological and genetic differences between the races.  However, such race differences usually exist in equal measure for both men and women.  For example, because they have existed much longer in human evolutionary history, Africans have more mutations in their genomes than other races.  And the mutation loads significantly decrease physical attractiveness (because physical attractiveness is a measure of genetic and developmental health).  But since both black women and black men have higher mutation loads, it cannot explain why only black women are less physically attractive, while black men are, if anything, more attractive.

The only thing I can think of that might potentially explain the lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women is testosterone.  Africans on average have higher levels of testosterone than other races, and testosterone, being an androgen (male hormone), affects the physical attractiveness of men and women differently.  Men with higher levels of testosterone have more masculine features and are therefore more physically attractive.  In contrast, women with higher levels of testosterone also have more masculine features and are therefore less physically attractive.  The race differences in the level of testosterone can therefore potentially explain why black women are less physically attractive than women of other races, while (net of intelligence) black men are more physically attractive than men of other races.
He managed to assert that Black men are dumb but yet are sexually exciting. Gee I wonder where that came from?  Could it be the historical sexualization of Black male bodies by Whiteness to reduce their humanity?  He then when on to assert that Black women are ugly because they are manly.  Why would Kanazawa begin for one moment that this is original?  Didn't Sojourner Truth ask Ain't I A Woman, years ago in response to the masculinization of Black women? Kanazawa proved that he is a useful fool, because he clearly fails to understand, that it is in his best interest to partner with other people of colour to fight racist oppression. He chose instead to perpetuate oppression based in race, in the false belief that in doing so, he elevated himself.

Nothing Kanazawa wrote was new, and in fact the lack of originality in his perpetuation of racist tropes is downright boring.  I am not going to waste my time critiquing the article, because that would infer that I believe that  Black women and men need to be defended against this.  Anyone who takes what he has written as scientific proof of their bigotry, is in short, an asshat oxygen thief not worthy of my consideration.  What I do want to address is the reaction of Psychology Today.

Kanazawa's post was simply deleted from the site without explanation or apology.  This means that someone at Psychology Today must have been aware of how prejudicial the article was.  I give them no cookies for erasing the piece, because this behaviour takes no accountability for the harm that was done.  Kanazawa's work was unleashed upon the world by their site and just as he intended, it hurt and caused harm to a people that are already battle fatigued from negotiating racism. I fully acknowledge that the article appeared on Kanazawa's blog on Psychology Today; however, the magazine itself owes the Black community and more specifically Black women an apology for its publication. Erasing it without comment is an attempt to deny its existence, as though racism and the harm that it causes can so easily be removed.

Simply erasing the piece is a way of denying that this event, this event that was so damaging, did not exist.  Unfortunately, far too many live with the mistaken idea that racism is a thing of the past and that we have moved into a post racial world.  Racist language has been qualified to mean that if one avoids using a slur in one's speech that racism has not occurred.  Kanazawa's work is the perfect example of the way that covert attacks continue to occur against people of colour.  Those who have made an attempt to be able to decolonize their mind might be able to understand that calling Black women ugly and inferring that Black men are not intelligent is indeed racist; however, in the mainstream such language is not only common place it is encouraged.  This is specifically why Psychology Today has a responsibility to refute Kanazawa's claim directly, rather than leaving it to people of colour to once again rise up in defense of their person.  Acts that directly oppress marginalized people must be forcefully spoken out against or they will continue to be normalized.  Their silence on this issue makes them just as guilty as Kanazawa.