The American Racist’s Statistical Speedball

Like adrenaline junkies, America’s racists are hooked on numbers that provide them the euphoria of racial superiority

Donald Earl Collins

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A Canadian-born Greek drug addict injecting herself with a speedball (a mix of cocaine and heroin), Athens, Greece, April 30, 2012 (cropped). (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters).

White supremacist Arthur Jones came to national prominence on June 1, during NBC’s The Today Show segment “Race and Races.” Running for Congress on the Republican ticket out of Chicago’s Third District, Jones was all too happy to grant an interview espousing his view that “most White people want a White neighborhood.” When NBC reporter Morgan Radford confronted Jones about his segregationist views, Jones responded, “[t]he average IQ of a black person is about 20 points lower than the average IQ of a white person.”

Aside from the fact that Jones’ numbers are incorrect, there’s a larger issue, for me, and for statistics-obsessed Americans. Part of me wonders if the news media’s attempts to expose racism through racial and socioeconomic disparities data ever really opens the eyes and changes the racist thoughts of the Americans reading and hearing them. More often, I believe that exposure to these numbers merely serves to confirm the racial stereotypes that White Americans hold so dear, and Americans of color know all too well. The use of such data is but one way in which American narcissism rears its ugly head in the context of American racism. It’s as if these numbers on racial gaps provide a high, or worse still, a perverse psychological orgasm. Especially for Whites like Jones, who use these stats to confirm their sense of cultural and intellectual superiority.

Perhaps no other number invokes both racial disparities and White ecstasy over such gaps more than an SAT score. New School University professor Robin J. Hayes focused mostly on Yale’s failed efforts to increase its acceptance rates of students from low-income families in her 2014 article, “Why Ivy League Schools Are So Bad At Economic Diversity.” “[I] grew up in real poverty — not relative, not ‘compared to’ — a family of eight” living on “$15,000 a year during the 1980s.” Yet when “I applied to Yale in the fall of ‘86,” my socioeconomic disadvantage didn’t matter, I wrote in response to Hayes’ piece.

A reader with the username Christy2012 dug through my personal blog and learned that my SAT score in 1986 was an 1120. That…

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Donald Earl Collins

Freelancer via @washingtonpost | @TheAtlantic |@AJEnglish | @Guardian; American Univ. & UMUC history prof. Invite me to write/speak: donaldearlcollins@gmail.com