Race, Racism, and Psychology: Towards a Reflexive History

By Graham Richards | Go to book overview

Chapter 10

Bringing it all back home

If the 'race and IQ' controversy has dominated public awareness of Psychology's concerns with 'race' in recent decades, there have been far weightier, if less visible, developments of more long-term significance. In this chapter I will attempt a brief overview of some of these, before offering my closing observations on the present situation. The relative brevity of the coverage here compared with that given to the race and IQ, controversy is overdetermined: insofar as these developments break new ground they are not yet amenable to historical consideration, their range is extremely wide thus ruling out any comprehensive treatment and they are readily accessible in a way in which much of the material previously examined is not. The race and IQ controversy, by contrast, represents the latest instalment of a long-running saga and has monopolised public media attention. It thus required a fuller exegesis.

The first such development has been the emergence, primarily in the USA, of the Black Psychology movement, begun in 1968 although with deeper roots. The second is the continuing, indeed mounting, concern with the persistent levels of ethnocentrism and racism within Psychology itself, as manifested in Howitt and Owusu-Bempah (1994). Thirdly, some current theories of racism will be briefly discussed. In addressing the first of these we will also consider links between feminism and anti-racism. One area I will not be explicitly covering, except incidentally, is the extensive genre of cross-cultural Social Psychological work which has appeared since 1970. To do so would involve expanding my task too widely, most of this work not being framed in racial terms. We ought not to be too complacent, however, about how far this continuation of the Cross-cultural Psychology tradition has fully emancipated itself from the problems discussed in Chapters 5 and 8. It certainly bears on the ethnocentrism problem, dealt with in the second section.


BLACK PSYCHOLOGY

As we saw in Chapter 8, by 1970 a distinct Black Psychology school had been created in the USA by radical African American psychologists who recognised the need for any Psychology to be rooted in, and emerge from, the concerns of the community it sought to serve and represent. While F.C. Sumner (the first African

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