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!