Well, they’ve finally broken down and done what they needed to do last week. After tremendous public scrutiny, Psychology Today has issued an apology for the shocking article published on their site which claimed that black women are less attractive than women from other races. The article, written by Satoshi Kanazawa, an Evolutionary Psychologist with the London School of Economics, drew a firestorm of controversy from people around the world. I was personally outraged by the article, for it is shocking to me that someone would go out of their way to try and “scientifically” insult an entire race of people.
Kaja Perina, Editor-in-Chief of the Magazine, issued this statement:
“Last week, a blog post about race and appearance by Satoshi Kanazawa was published–and promptly removed–from this site. We deeply apologize for the pain and offense that this post caused. Psychology Today’s mission is to inform the public, not to provide a platform for inflammatory and offensive material. Psychology Today does not tolerate racism or prejudice of any sort. The post was not approved by Psychology Today, but we take full responsibility for its publication on our site. We have taken measures to ensure that such an incident does not occur again. Again, we are deeply sorry for the hurt that this post caused.”
Excuse me for sounding unscholarly when I say this, but I have one question for Kaja Perina, Professor Kanazawa and the rest of the Psychology Today staff: What in the hell is wrong with you?
I remain flabbergasted that an article of this nature could make it to the pages of a magazine which considers itself a credible source of scientific information. Who was doing the editing on the website? If there had been no backlash, would this article have remained online? Also, why did you remain so stoic when the public made it clear that they were highly-upset with the article? Were you wondering if Professor Kanazawa could actually prove his claims?
In a separate piece, Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman, a Cognitive Scientist out of New York City, made a seemingly harmless, yet subtly troubling statement about Professor Kanazawa’s research:
“Kanazawa mentions several times that his data on attractiveness are scored “objectively”… [However] the low convergence of ratings finding suggests that in this very large and representative dataset, beauty is mostly in the eye of the beholder. Because raters differ strongly in terms of how they rate… this source of variation needs to be taken into account when testing for average race differences in ratings of attractiveness. Kanazawa does not indicate that he did so.”
I appreciate Dr. Kaufman supporting the cause of black women and men around the world by seeking flaws in the methodology used by Dr. Kanazawa, but there’s one glaring problem: The man is dead wrong. What if Professor Kanazawa were the most thorough, competent researcher on the planet and came to these same conclusions? Would that mean that black women are less attractive than women of other races? Absolutely not.
There actually was a time when the best researchers in the world had no problem laying out complex and carefully-considered scientific theories and tests to prove that black people are uglier, dumber and more violent than everyone else. Millions of black mothers (including my own) are presented with a list of charts and tables from so-called educated people to prove beyond any doubt that their children are inferior to white kids. Black children across America are being put on unnecessary mind-altering drugs at an early age because some “scientist” concluded that they have a behavioral disorder – never mind the fact that black kids are far more likely to receive this arbitrary diagnosis than white children. Starting long before the radiation experiments that literally left black people with holes in their heads, people of color have regularly found ourselves disrespected, attacked and perpetually damaged by so-called scholars in academia who are not smart enough to know that there is a thin line between academic elitism and institutionalized racism.
So, here’s the bottom line: Psychology Today should have apologized sooner. Black men should have been (and some were) on the front lines defending black women when their beauty was assaulted. The same way that this professor and magazine claimed that black women are less attractive than women of other races, there are other studies saying that black women are too fat, their lips are too big, and their hair is too nappy. As a result, it’s hard for me to prepare my daughter and God daughters for a world that decided long ago that black women are not as important as everyone else. To be quite frank, I’m just sick of it.
Psychology Today, thank you for your apology, but unfortunately, your apology is not accepted. You should never have allowed this assault on black women to occur in the first place, for it feeds into a broader effort to fundamentally undermine the value and self-esteem of our mothers, daughters, wives, sisters and grandmothers. Perhaps when it comes to acknowledging the impact that racism has on our perceptions of other human beings, we might take a second and accept the fact that even analysis that appears to be scientific is impacted by the biases of the researcher. The beauty of black women is simply not up for debate.