Friday, April 08, 2005

Blacks Better Athletes?

Now, after a brief diversion to gender, it's straight back to race. (I wonder: Has anyone noticed a focus on race from this blog? It may be because my blogging days started after I began to credit race more in my analysis...) When playing on PokerStars, the aptly named teen kkk666 commented that there are no good black quarterbacks. Donovan McNabb alone shoots that theory out of the water, but I was wondering, given comments by Dave Chapelle and others: Are blacks better athletes genetically? Maybe slave breeding made them stronger (though certainly not dumber), or maybe Africans happen to be better at sports. Certainly, looking at the Olympics and American national sports, you see a lot of black faces.

As an initial caveat: Though on a class level I don't approve of the ludicrous money professional athletes make, on a race level I damn sure do. I'm not going to launch into a neo-Nazi tirade about parasitic black athletes - the parasites are far too often white for me or anyone serious to broach that topic. I'm merely inquiring.

This Salon article reviews a book that points out some interesting genetic discoveries (though not remotely conclusive yet).

What interested me most was this:
"To avoid misunderstandings, Entine makes it clear from the outset that he is talking about groups, not individuals: It is not the case that all or most blacks are better athletes than members of other racial groups, only that over the entire population, there are higher odds that some individuals will be faster or able to jump higher than individuals from other populations. The black guy playing corner in a pickup football game may or may not be a better athlete than the white wide receiver lined up opposite him, but there's no statistical reason to assume he is -- genetics doesn't work that way. But when you leave the sandlot and move up to the level where the world's elite athletes compete -- world-class track meets, the Olympics, the NFL and the NBA -- genetics confers the tiny advantage that separates starters from bench-warmers, world record holders from also-rans. Entine also addresses an even more volatile subject: the unfair devaluation of black athletes' blood, sweat and tears that can all too easily accompany encomiums to their "natural abilities."

He is at pains to point out that having a genetic advantage doesn't automatically confer success: Black athletes have to work as hard as athletes of other races if they want to reach the top. Their success is a result of a "unique confluence of cultural and genetic forces."

This makes me wonder: So often, we hear comments from white supremacists or, heck, supremacists of any ilk, that their kind dominates X highly competitive profession. Now, all too often this is hyperbolic, inaccurate, ignores social realities and even more nuanced genetic explanations, etc., and further the entire discussion is based on fundamentally bad science anyways, but maybe we can concede that, heck, maybe black dudes will dominate COMPETITIVE pro basketball no matter what, but who cares because that certainly has zero impact on whether or not your black buddy is going to kick your ass at the YMCA?

Here's another interesting article: This is a complex piece, but the conclusion is very interesting. It underscores something I see a lot: Blacks, while suffering from discrimination, know how to deal with it; they internalize ways of handling racist pressure. But if a white fella goes to a mostly black college and experiences the reverse of what happens normally, he doesn't know how to cope.

The key part is this: Like most things, you can take this insight two ways. You can say "Blacks can be racist too" and thus subvert legitimate claims against the preponderant white racism, not to mention the institutions and history that make that racism matter. Or you can say "Look, white culture is so used to privilege and to race and culture being a non-entity that white people aren't prepared to deal with their position and privilege being challenged." The latter, for someone within the white community, is the pertinent thing to say.


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