The Truth About Scientific Racism
Throughout the decades scientific racism has been brought up less, but that does not mean that it ever went away. People use science to try and prove their theories that claim that the white race is superior above all. Although people in the past would measure people’s skulls and weigh their brains in order to provide evidence to their claims, it ultimately came down to people being at a certain white standard. Scientific racism has been proven wrong time and time again, but even in today’s society with the new political leaders, human rights for minorities are being dismissed because people who are white believe they are naturally superior.
In The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould, he talks about Paul Broca, a French physician, and how he would measure different peoples skulls as well as weigh their brains in order to prove that white people were smarter than anyone else. It is mentioned that Broca claimed that the size of the brain corresponds with intelligence and that white males have the biggest brains; larger brains than women, poor people, and lower races.1 When Broca would stumble upon issues, such as a white male’s brain not weighing enough, he would simply write down a larger number for the mass he was recording.2 This makes Broca’s findings unreliable because there were white males with smaller brains than black males, which would never happen if his claims were true.
As well as that, in Race and the Enlightenment by Emmanuel Chukwudi Eze, an essay is shown by Immanuel Kant who believes that all people originated from a white brunette and that black people are essentially white people who have been stained.3 Kant explains how all people are born white, but some are born with a specific dark spot that later spreads and eventually turns someone black. It was this easy for Kant to come up with these facts because he had never seen a person with darker skin than him which would make him superior too. It was not proven that white people were better, most people had never someone who was black which made it easier for them to make these claims.
In addition, in The Mismeasure of Man, Gould has a section about a man named Louis Agassiz who was a Swiss naturalist. Agassiz had never seen a black person in Europe so when he encountered a black servant he was disgusted.4 He then claimed that black people and white people had to be different species because their black faces and thick lips made him feel the need to tell them to stay away.5 Since Agassiz did not think his first encounter with a black person was pleasant, he easily stated that it was obvious they had to be different species.
To further add on, white people used their superiority as an excuse to dehumanize black people. Gould also mentioned that there were two main groups, the soft-liners and the hardliners.6 The hard-liners believed that blacks were inferior and that their biological status justified their enslavement and colonization. The soft-liners still believed that blacks were inferior but that they also deserved to have human rights despite their skin color.
Finally, in the Four Statements on the Race Question by Unesco, they say that scientists have recognized that all human beings belong to the same species and that physical traits can change due to geographic and cultural isolation.
7 This helps further understand why certain races have different skin tones. People with darker skin were known to live in warmer climate areas than people with light skin. Just as the soft-liners believed that blacks were inferior but still deserved to have certain rights, people nowadays think the same. Many people’s truth was unveiled once Donald Trump came into office and started saying radical things about minorities. People still compare race to their intelligence quotient (IQ) without thinking about the lack of resources in environments in which minorities live in. Lack of resources and environmental situations need to be considered before deciding that race is what determines intelligence.
It may be easy for some to justify their racism on science and the environment, but scientific racism continues to be wrong, whether it was in the 19th century or in today’s society. Applying this scientific knowledge seems to be a way to further white supremacy and people will continue to talk about it even though it is not reliable. People continue to judge others based on their skin color without actually knowing how educated they may be or how up to standard they are.
- 1 Stephen Jay Gould, “Measuring Heads,” in The Mismeasure of Man (New York, 1981), 88.
- 2 Stephen Jay Gould, “Measuring Heads,” The Mismeasure of Man (New York, 1981), 93-94.
- 3 Emmanuel Chukwudi Eze, Race and the Enlightenment (Massachusetts: Blackwell Publisher, 1997), 60.
- 4 Stephen Jay Gould, “American Polygeny and Craniometry before Darwin,” in The Mismeasure of Man (New York, 1981), 76.
- 5 Stephen Jay Gould, “American Polygeny and Craniometry before Darwin,” in The Mismeasure of Man (New York, 1981), 77.
- 6 Stephen Jay Gould, “American Polygeny and Craniometry before Darwin,” in The Mismeasure of Man (New York, 1981), 63.