That’s when self-hatred starts

Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

The black critique of Brown v. Board of Education starts with some of the psychological research, Malcolm Gladwell explains:

Well, the great book on this is Daryl Scott’s Contempt and Pity. He’s a very good black historian at Howard [University], I believe. Yes, he’s the chair of history at Howard. And he has much to say, so I got quite taken when I was doing this season of my podcast with the black critique of Brown [v. Board of Education]. And the black critique of Brown starts with some of that psychological research because the psychological research is profoundly problematic on many levels.

So what Clark was showing, and what so moved the court in the Warren decision, was this research where you would take the black and the white doll, and you show that to the black kid. And you would say, “Which is the good doll?” And the black kid points to the white doll. “And which doll do you associate with yourself?” And they don’t want to answer the question. And the court said, “This is the damage done by segregation.”

Scott points out that if you actually look at the research that Clark did, the black children who were most likely to have these deeply problematic responses in the doll test were those from the North, who were in integrated schools. The southern kids in segregated schools did not regard the black doll as problematic. They were like, “That’s me. Fine.”

That result, that it was black kids, minority kids from integrated schools, who had the most adverse reactions to their own representation in a doll, is consistent with all of the previous literature on self-hatred, which starts with Jews. That literature begins with, where does Jewish self-hatred come from? Jewish self-hatred does not come from Eastern Europe and the ghettos. It comes from when Jewish immigrants confront and come into close conflict and contact with majority white culture. That’s when self-hatred starts, when you start measuring yourself at close quarters against the other, and the other seems so much more free and glamorous and what have you.

So, in other words, the Warren Court picks the wrong research. There are all kinds of problems caused by segregation. This happens to be not one of them. So why does the Warren Court do that? Because they are trafficking — this is Scott’s argument — they are trafficking in an uncomfortable and unfortunate trope about black Americans, which is that black American culture is psychologically damaged. That the problem with black people is not that they’re denied power, or that doors are closed to them, or that . . . no, it’s because that something at their core, their family life and their psyches, have, in some way, been crushed or distorted or harmed by their history.

It personalizes the struggle. By personalizing the struggle, what the Warren Court is trying to do is to manufacture an argument against segregation that will be acceptable to white people, particularly Southern white people. And so, what they’re saying is, “Look, it’s not you that’s the problem. It’s black people. They’re harmed in their hearts, and we have to usher them into the mainstream.”

They’re not making the correct argument, which was, “You guys have been messing with these people for 200 years! Stop!” They can’t make that argument because Warren desperately wants a majority. He wants a nine-nothing majority on the court. So, instead, they construct this, in retrospect, deeply offensive argument, about how it’s all about black people carrying this . . . and using social science in a way that’s actually quite deeply problematic. It’s not what the social science said.


  1. Alrenous says:

    Liar vs. liar.

    Races autosegregate when given the chance.

    At least in a Democracy, custom has to be written into law. As we can see, if it’s not, then the opposite will be written into law.

  2. Lu An Li says:

    The “doll” test now seen by modern psychologists to have used a flawed methodology that would not be used today. GIGO. Garbage in, garbage out.

  3. Kirk says:

    Mmmm… No. Races don’t “autosegregate”, people do.

    Go to an Army mess facility; you look around, you may see signs of racial preferences in where people sit, but the main thing you’re going to observe is people sitting with people they know. I have worked in racially-charged units where the blacks sat themselves together, but the really weird thing to observe was that when you took five or six of those black guys out of that specific context, put them in another where they were the only ones there with twenty other white/hispanic guys from that unit…? What you saw was unit segregation, not blacks hanging out with other blacks just because they were black.

    Some of this stuff is purest projection and fantasy by the observer. Racism doesn’t automatically exist just because of skin color differences observable to the naked eye. What you see as racism or integration may or may not actually be there, where you’re looking. And, too… It can shift from day to day. One day, all the black guys may be at the same tables, and the next, it’s all totally free-form integration.

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