Black Athena Revisited

By Mary R. Lefkowitz; Guy MacLean Rogers | Go to book overview
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C. Loring Bracewith David P. Tracer, Lucia Allen Yaroch, John Robb, Kari Brandt, and A. Russell Nelson

A sense of one's biological heritage can easily transcend the familial and spill over into feelings of "racial" identity. These in turn lead an too quickly to attempts to bolster feelings of individual worth by invoking the collective reinforcement of "racial" pride. This was a favorite ploy of advocates of differential "racial" rank in the recent past. One of the clearest statements attributing merit not to individual achievement but to group membership was made by a former chairman of the Department of Psychology at Columbia University, who admonished that "no matter how low (in a socioeconomic sense) an American white may be, his ancestors built the civilizations of Europe; and no matter how high (again in a socioeconomic sense) a Negro may be, his ancestors were (and his kinsmen still are) savages in an African jungle" ( Garrett 1962, 984).

He was wrong on both counts. Most American "whites" are descendants of European farmers - peasants -- and most American "blacks" are descendants of African farmers. The main differences in the nature of the selective forces that influenced their chances for survival were related to the different conditions associated with farming in the tropics as opposed to farming in the temperate zone. Actually, despite claims that populations are adapted to the "civilizations" with which they are associated ( Jensen 1969), none of the world's cultures has endured unchanged for as much as 10,000 years, and that


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Black Athena Revisited


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