Black Women are “Less” Attractive? by New England Private School Teacher

The post below was written by a friend and a colleague of mine who teaches at a New England independent day school; she is very active in matters regarding the faculty, gender, and race. And, being a female faculty member of color, offers an important point of view below; her post in many ways relates to my current project regarding the vanishing identity of people of color in independent schools. This is a great post to share with many of you who follow my academic interests.

An article in the magazine claimed that it’s a scientific fact that Black women are less beautiful than women of other races. Its author, Satoshi Kanazawa, is notorious for hiding behind pseudoscience to promote discredited racist and sexist ideas. In giving these ideas a platform, PT’s editors dehumanized Black women and girls everywhere. After widespread public outcry, they removed the article from their website. But that alone won’t erase the damage they’ve done by validating these discredited ideas — the editors need to apologize, explain how this happened, and let us know that it won’t happen again. Please join me and my friends at ColorOfChange.org in demanding they do so immediately: http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/psychtoday?referring_akid=1987.1172257.Zepmlc&source=taf

Kanazawa’s article is flawed from top to bottom. Using a flawed dataset from an unrelated study of teenagers, he draws the obviously false conclusion that Black women are “objectively” less attractive than women from other racial groups. Kanazawa has a long history of hiding behind pseudo-science to express racist and sexist views. He once wrote an article asking “Are All Women Essentially Prostitutes?” and another suggesting that the US should have dropped nuclear bombs across the entire Middle East after 9/11 because it would have wiped out Muslim terrorists.

So why does Psychology Today continue to give him a platform? Black women must constantly face both subtle and explicit messages that they are valued less than women of other races — messages that are especially damaging to Black girls. Now they’ve served as launching point for yet another attack, this time in the name of science. To undo the damage it’s done, Psychology Today needs to explicitly reject Kanazawa’s ideas. Please join me and my friends at ColorOfChange.org in demanding that their editors apologize, explain how this article was published in the first place, and tell us what they’ll do to ensure that this won’t happen again in the future. It takes just a moment: http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/psychtoday?referring_akid=1987.1172257.Zepmlc&source=taf

Thanks.

Additional resources:

1. http://creativeseven.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/satoshi-kanazawa-article.pdf

2. http://jezebel.com/5786394/the-illustrious-career-of-a-crap-psychologist

3. http://colorlines.com/archives/2011/05/satoshi_kanazawa_is_a_scientific.html

4. http://www.racialicious.com/2011/05/17/how-to-debunk-pseudo-science-articles-about-race-in-five-easy-steps/

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3 thoughts on “Black Women are “Less” Attractive? by New England Private School Teacher

  1. Most people in society will not think twice about this. I assure you that many will say will but Psy. Today is right. Just look at TV. Unless you are a part of the inflicted here, this is not a matter of conversation. It is important that academic types, like you, discuss theses matters in hopes that it spreads and promotes this conversation.

  2. Aurie got it right. I suspect they will not back off this unless it appears to be an issue for the majority. I say majority because blacks have a great deal of political will and a voice, but they own so little when it comes to the media.

  3. As a Statistics teacher, there are several important questions that I teach students to ask as they read any “data”-based study. Three of those questions seem to be particularly helpful for being able to properly filter this article.

    One of the most important questions a reader can bring to the published findings of research is “Why?”. Why was the research done in the first place? Why would somebody want to know which race is the most or least beautiful? Why would somebody want to elevate one group of women above others?

    Another important question is “How?’. How was the research conducted? In this case, how does one “objectively” measure beauty? Where does that methodology originate? Is it a standard used by reputable sources? Do reputable people even agree that there is one objective standard of feminine beauty? Is the standard being used based on a biased definition of beauty, such as facial measurements and hair qualities characteristic of Nordic women? (If so, then the whole discussion is mute. If you are defining beauty by a definition that “stacks the cards” in favor of one group and to the disadvantage of another, then you have shown NOTHING meaningful when your results turn out the way the bias directs them.)

    Finally, a reader should determine “Who” is conducting the research. As you stated, the author is a man who has published prior work that demonstrates his gender and racial biases. Not that his prior bad products necessarily “poison” the current research, but they do make them suspect. “Consider the source” is much more than simply a cliche.

    Hopefully, as I teach young women and men to ask these questions when they read the results of research, more young people will be empowered to reject nonsense, even nonsense that gets published.

    Just my two cents!
    ~Staci

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