Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

Africa , AFRICOM, Poverty, Racism

Melanocytes are why Africa is poor

“I keep hearing from white africans [sic] that they know blacks (Africans) since they are from Africa and that they have the mentality of teen agers [sic]. They insist that they are difficult to educate and have hard time [sic] understanding basic procedures. They also claim that blacks are irresponsible and won’t do what is necessary for success. They did differentiate somewhat between westernized blacks and not. Many said they thought the west should stop all aid and just pull out and let the continent sort itself out and that it will probably become mainly tribal again. What are your comments on these assertions.”

This is a comment I received earlier today on my post, “Why is Africa Poor?” The sics in it are not to belittle the commenter, but to assure the reader that I quoted faithfully and did not insert or remove things. Now, where to begin? The comment was left by JK, with an email address that I have not bothered to use. So I’ll address my comments to JK him/herself. My aim with this post is not to attempt to show why Africa is poor, but to settle a commenter’s questions.

JK, your comment, and the assertions of your friends, as you put it, have been said and made a thousand times, and I and other people have tried as many times to address them, and lay such thoughts to rest. Let me just cut to the point here and say that this kind of talk is idiotic and shows shallow thinking and unfounded conclusions. Nobody who considers themself civilised should be pushing such rubbish. OK? Now, let’s get started.

  1. …they have the mentality of teen agers [sic].
    What I have heard from most people is that it is Americans who have the mentality of teenagers, not black Africans, not white Scandinavians, not green… Martians, which is why Americans roam the world toting machine-guns and playing cowboys ‘n injuns. But seriously, almost all the Africans I know, black or otherwise, act responsibly and in a civilised manner under normal circumstances. They help each other, respect their parents and their elders, are satisfied with little if it is enough, have a God (or gods) that they do believe in, not on TV but in their hearts and huts, and even in the dark when they’re alone. Most Africans I know worship other things: God, family, spouse, country. Not money. Most Africans I know will die to keep a promise to a friend. If all this sounds like teenagers to you to your friends, then right, I agree with you.
  2. …they are difficult to educate and have hard time [sic] understanding basic procedures.
    Why would anyone say that a certain group of people, from a certain piece of soil that floats in a certain region of the ocean, is hard to educate? Is the capacity to absorb and learn new things based on that? On the type of soil? On the shape of the continent? On the salinity of the surrounding waters? Even if this capacity to absorb and learn new things were based on culture, Africa is a huge land with more than fifty countries and more than a hundred different cultures. Don’t even mention the number of languages.

    People should in fact quit saying things like, “Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease.” There aren’t any legitimate grounds for grouping Africans and labelling them in a certain way. Nor any other group of people, for that matter. Not culture, and not skin colour, the latter of which depends on the activity of a certain type of skin cell called the melanocyte. Otherwise I’ll lump you with Canadians and Mexicans and Inuits and call you a nation. If skin colour is to be used to determine intelligence (the lighter the skin, the smarter the person in it), as you your friends suggest, JK, then all the albinos in America are smarter than everybody else there, and all the albinos in Africa are smarter than everyone in Africa.

    Let me not stop there. I’d also like to point out that by “understanding basic procedures” you your friends mean becoming white, so to speak. White people scrambled for and got Africa, then they decided the African had to abandon African ways and learn European/Occidental ways, or “basic procedures.” Any resistance to this is labelled as you your friends label it.

    I know few Africans who speak only one language. “Difficult to educate?” I’m writing this in your language because if i wrote it in any other you probably wouldn’t understand, and I’m “difficult to educate?” How many languages do you speak, JK? How far have you gone in your studies? These aren’t real criteria for determining intelligence, as in other countries diplomas can be bought, for example, but you must understand that I’m struggling to prove my non-stupidity here; so you will have to pardon me and pardon my antics. Haeba u utloa hore na ke reng, ha ke bua tjena, u se u tla ntÅ¡oarela he, monna. Ou peut-être tu parle français, comme beaucoup d’africains, ce peuple qui est si “difficile à éduquer.” Enfin, pourquoi pense-tu que t’es meilleur que les autres, seulement parce que tes mélanocytes sont moins actives?

  3. … blacks are irresponsible and won’t do what is necessary for success.
    What is the white person responsible for? The hole in the ozone layer? Slavery, racism, global warming, the holocaust, colonialism, what have I missed? The KKK, skins, non-skins, what have you… come on, JK, don’t make me laugh. Africans have lived on and with their land for millenia without screwing it up. What are you trying to sell me, here? Africans are inherently responsible for each other, and real communities exist where each member is responsible for all the other members. That is until the white man showed up and forced us to learn “basic procedures.”

    Exactly what do you consider “necessary for success?” Becoming white Learning your “basic procedures?” If Hannibal, the African general who conquered Spain and the south of Gaul (France), in about 220 BC, had succeeded in conquering Rome fully (…he inflicted one of the worst military defeats the Romans had ever known [source]), then the roles would be reversed today. I’d have enslaved you, then colonised you, raped your women, burned your lands, destroyed your religion and your culture and your livelihood, then dragged you to Africa to work in my cotton fields for nothing, and you’d have had to learn my “basic procedures,” and I’d have called you stupid for taking time, or simply refusing, to do so. And I’d have let this drag on for centuries, until the late 1960s (Do this quiz and you’ll understand)

    And even then, I’d still hang many of you (don’t visit this site if you’re weak hearted) who tried to be smart, or who were more handsome than I was and got the girl. And afterwards, I’d continue by denying you your humanhood, denying you decent work and giving it only to the black nation. And then when you started making it, despite everything, I’d ridicule all laws meant to level the playing field, and call them reverse discrimination, or whatever else they’re called. Then I’d post comments on blogs suggesting that white people were stupid and irresponsible.

  4. …They did differentiate somewhat between westernized blacks and not.
    Oh, goody! Let me guess, by westernised blacks you mean like Michael Jordan and Bill Cosby? Miles Davis, Andrew Young, Stevie Wonder, Malcolm X, Oprah Winfrey, Martin Luther King, Marvin Gaye, Muhammad Ali, Spike Lee, Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, Ray Charles, Michael Jackson, Tiger Woods, Naomi Campbell, Duke Ellington, Dr. Patricia E. Bath, Alex Haley, Billie Holiday, Quincy Jones, Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, David Dinkins, and hundreds of others? In other words, those you your friends couldn’t keep from succeeding you’ve decided to “differentiate somewhat”? Why? What basis do you your friends propose for doing so? Culture? The activity of melanocytes in the skin?

    What will it take to get you your friends to understand that the white man f*cked Africa over, and that the African who goes to any place that is less f*cked over, makes it? What will it take to understand this? I thought you your friends could understand “basic procedures.” And, in all honesty, this here is really basic, JK.

  5. ... they thought the west should stop all aid and just pull out.
    If only. Give me a date and I’ll throw a party. Except the west may stop the aid, but it’ll never pull out. The stakes are too high for that, especially today. What with China and India penetrating into the African continent with proposals for partnerships? To that, the Bush administration came up with Africom, and appropriately sat a man who has highly active melanocytes at its helm. The west won’t, repeat, won’t pull out, JK, until Africa has been sucked dry.

    On the other hand, America is stumbling, isn’t it? Why? Because for the past eight years its resources have been targeted at and focused on war(s), just when these two giants that are China and India, or Chindia, as experts aptly call them, were awaking, just as they were rubbing their eyes, yawning, and scratching their balls. Now what?

    What is intelligence based on, JK? Ask your pals. All I can tell you is, it’s not based on the activity of melanocytes in the skin, nor is it based on culture. I suspect it is based on a wide array of factors. I suspect every hamlet has its own village idiot, in America as well as in Africa. Remember that “IQ depends on your culture, class and gender because of the way tests are written [source].”

Isaac Asimov, who had less active melanocytes than black Africans, and wrote sweetly (he wrote some of the most incredible limericks) has said, and I urge you to listen to the man, JK:

What is intelligence, anyway? When I was in the army, I received the kind of aptitude test that all soldiers took and, against a normal of 100, scored 160. No one at the base had ever seen a figure like that, and for two hours they made a big fuss over me. (It didn’t mean anything. The next day I was still a buck private with KP – kitchen police – as my highest duty.)

All my life I’ve been registering scores like that, so that I have the complacent feeling that I’m highly intelligent, and I expect other people to think so too. Actually, though, don’t such scores simply mean that I am very good at answering the type of academic questions that are considered worthy of answers by people who make up the intelligence tests – people with intellectual bents similar to mine?

For instance, I had an auto-repair man once, who, on these intelligence tests, could not possibly have scored more than 80, by my estimate. I always took it for granted that I was far more intelligent than he was. Yet, when anything went wrong with my car I hastened to him with it, watched him anxiously as he explored its vitals, and listened to his pronouncements as though they were divine oracles – and he always fixed my car.

Well, then, suppose my auto-repair man devised questions for an intelligence test. Or suppose a carpenter did, or a farmer, or, indeed, almost anyone but an academician. By every one of those tests, I’d prove myself a moron, and I’d be a moron, too. In a world where I could not use my academic training and my verbal talents but had to do something intricate or hard, working with my hands, I would do poorly. My intelligence, then, is not absolute but is a function of the society I live in and of the fact that a small subsection of that society has managed to foist itself on the rest as an arbiter of such matters.

Consider my auto-repair man, again. He had a habit of telling me jokes whenever he saw me. One time he raised his head from under the automobile hood to say: “Doc, a deaf-and-mute guy went into a hardware store to ask for some nails. He put two fingers together on the counter and made hammering motions with the other hand. The clerk brought him a hammer. He shook his head and pointed to the two fingers he was hammering. The clerk brought him nails. He picked out the sizes he wanted, and left. Well, doc, the next guy who came in was a blind man. He wanted scissors. How do you suppose he asked for them?”

Indulgently, I lifted by [sic] right hand and made scissoring motions with my first two fingers. Whereupon my auto-repair man laughed raucously and said, “Why, you dumb jerk, He used his voice and asked for them.” Then he said smugly, “I’ve been trying that on all my customers today.” “Did you catch many?” I asked. “Quite a few,” he said, “but I knew for sure I’d catch you.” “Why is that?” I asked. “Because you’re so goddamned educated, doc, I knew you couldn’t be very smart.”

And I have an uneasy feeling he had something there [source].

Difficult to educate? A hard time understanding basic procedures? Bah!


  1. This is one of those rather difficult questions that will always be work in progress. There are no simple answers but some are just to be ignored due to the implied ignorance of their writers. featured the following.

    In all these discussions about Africa the fundamental problem is ALWAYS lost.

    The problem in Africa is the fact that of all the economic activity and total money generated by mining, agriculture and industry in Africa, less than 10% of it goes into the HANDS of black Africans.

    How much money was generated just from mining gold and diamonds in Africa last year?
    How about copper, bauxite, coltan, manganese and tin?

    How much of that money went into the hands of black Africans?
    It is simple math and simple economics. If economic activity in Africa is not geared towards putting MOST of the money and benefit from the economic activity in Africa into the hands of Africans, then what is the point of economics in Africa? If economics is not the PRIMARY means of meeting the needs of African people then what is the purpose of economics? THAT should be the primary focus, putting the benefit of economic activity into the hands of Africans in terms of wealth and material well being, not AID. AID is only a INTERIM solution, like welfare, that holds you over until you can SUPPORT YOURSELF. Economics is supposed to be that means of SELF SUPPORT.

    Africa generates tons of tin, aluminum, copper, steel and other metals, but why do they need AID to built water pumps, pipes and irrigation systems? If the purpose of mining metals in Africa is not to provide the raw materials to BUILD African infrastructure, then focusing on AID is to miss the point.

    The fundamentals are this: Economic is first and foremost supposed to provide the raw material, manufactured products and CAPITAL (profits) from the buying and selling of such goods, to provide for the well being and needs of the people. Likewise, the purpose of agriculture is first and foremost to FEED THE PEOPLE. If that is NOT the purpose of economics in Africa and it is not the purpose of agriculture in Africa, then of course the PROBLEM is a fundamental DISCONNECT between economic activity, agriculture and the well being of black African people. The reason for this is simple. For the last 600 years, economic activity in Africa was designed for one thing and one thing only, the wealth and well being of FOREIGNERS, especially Europeans. Therefore, after 40-50 years of independence, the time has come to REVERSE that history and put the PRIMARY focus of economic activity in Africa on BENEFITTING AFRICAN PEOPLE. If all you talk about is AID and not about why the SIGNIFICANT amount of money generated from African economics or the significant amount of agricultural output does NOT benefit African people, then you are not solving the problem. That is civilization and economics 101 all of which STARTED in Africa in the first place.

    For example, countries in Africa generate tons of oil for export, yet have no fuel to run their vehicles, generators and other mechanical equipment. Africa generates tons of rubber, yet Africans do not have access to basic rubber condoms and rubber gloves and other rubber products for their own medical needs. Africa generates tons of lumber for export, yet Africans cannot make a stool to sit on. ALL of this reflects a mindset that is OPPOSED to African development, because it follows a PHILOSOPHY of economics that says the PRIMARY beneficiary of economic activity in Africa is NOT Africans. Until THAT PHILOSOPHY is changed, Africa will always beg for the things that they have in abundance.

    Focus on building ENTERPRISES RUN by Africans to develop and build their own school desks, paper, pencils and textbooks. Focus on creating businesses to develop, market and distribute medicines. Focus on starting companies to create the raw materials and products needed for infrastructure like steel, copper wire, metal tools, nuts, bolts, cement, asphalt and other raw materials. Africans do not need to beg for someone to come to Africa and build a cement plant. BUILD your own and start making roads. There is no special formula in this. It is all about DOING FOR SELF, looking out for #1 and putting yourself FIRST among all others, especially when it is AFRICANS who have been put LAST for the last 600 years because of the GREED of others. When you do these things you begin to built REAL ECONOMIES, which not only provide jobs, as Africans have ALWAYS done the work, but provides the goods and services, income and CAPITAL necessary to sustain a modern economy.

    Bottom line, any program that does not discuss putting a GREATER percentage of the CAPITAL generated from African land, labor and resources into the hands of Africa is NOT addressing the core issue of African economic well being. The name of the game in capitalist economics is generating CAPITAL. MOST of the capital generated by African land, labor and resources DOES NOT go into the hands of Africans. As long as THAT continues to be the case, Africans will stay poor and behind in the game of economics, which is NOT a game of goody two shoes as the last 600 years of African blood and guts is testimony to.

  2. Tim

    The man cannot be deaf and mute and use his voice to ask for scissors. Maybe I just don’t understand. But I do think the mental inferiority of Black Africans is hogwash. The genius of the premise is that you have to spend time and energy deducing and refuting the assumptions. The idea itself is thereby, strengthened.

  3. Why are black folks so hard to educate?! Perhaps because this education that JK refers to is indoctrination and we aren’t buying…Education profferred under slave conditions, that does NOT train people to be autonomous and free is no education at all.

    This shoddy education JK is speaking of is the kind that maintains the status quo – and keeps Africans broke, poorly fed and housed and enslaved to foreign capital and government mismanagement.

    Mind you, there is plenty of ignorance in Africa, but who deliberately suppressed and suppresses the African genius? Who uses “Aid” like crack cocaine, to addict countries to THAT and not true independence where women and men can create economies of choice, rather than compulsion?

    The willful ignorance of white people who pretend that they don’t know African History is…Monu-fucking-mental! And the worst are the ones with “faux” concern, who have “friends” who “said” blah, blah, blah. If you really cared you check yourself first before you burden an African with

  4. Here’s an interesting article on the recent debate about race and intelligence, published in The New York Times. It’s nice to read someone giving a well-researched scientific argument against what we already knew was plain stupidity.

  5. Very well thought out rebuttal. As you mentioned, we’ve seen these same idiotic statements made and rebutted a million times (as an African American, hear/read or see some version of this far too often). I won’t add to what you already pointed out except to say that true ignorance lies in ones inability or more likely refusal to see clearly what is plain before their eyes.

  6. Imagine an Africa
    Where her people stop looking down upon themselves
    Where her people drop their inferiority complex
    Where her people stop looking at the other folks as their saviours
    Where her people start looking at the other folks as equals and partners
    Where her people realize that their skin colour does not make them different and inferior

    Imagine an Africa
    As a continent which is not looked down upon as a continent in despair and desperation
    As a continent whose vast natural and man-made resources are used to develop her people
    As a continent that has not been let down by the trinity of slavery, christianity and colonization
    As a continent which is not judged by stereotypic images that pass through a biased media setup

    Imagine a dignified Africa!

  7. ana

    Why did you only include Christianity within the trinity?Or is it really a trinity? Maybe it has the shape of a crescent. Islam has also have destroyed Africans to a pulp.

    This is one of the problems with Africans ; everyone is an expert in saying what went wrong,but at the same time they lack the will to join together to devise grand scale solutions in solving the real problems on the continent .

    The bulk of the African talent, those inside and outside are afraid, or uinterested in doing the right networking in the interest of their countries. Africans need to start analyzing the situations properly and find solutions to each one of the problems.

    Everyone else around the globe is either doing it or has done it. Africans networking together is the only dignified path and approach in regressing and turning the tide of despair around and placing Africa on the throne of grandeur she rightfully belongs.One question:Are her children really consciously awake to understand that they are capable of such a monumental task?