Western Culture

Intelligence & Cultural Assimilation

The textbook being quoted in this post is titled Psychology Frontiers and Applications, 3rd Edition, with appropriate page numbers in brackets following quote.

I had to get this post out and published before I head to bed.

I am currently studying for my psychology test in two weeks. I just finished reading a chapter on Intelligence. In this chapter, various factors that contribute to a person’s intelligence. Some of these factors include, genes, biology, environment and culture.

I am going to go out on a limb when I write this post, but I have to write it!

In this chapter it talked about Italian immigrants were a “danger to the [USA] gene pool.” (393) This quote obviously represents an old and out-dated view that tried to use Darwin’s theory of evolution to create superior and inferior species and animals. These dangers were because Italian American students achieved much lower test scores, which was on the same average as African-Americans. It further states, “cultural assimilation and educational and economic opportunity seem much more reasonable explanations for this pronounced increase in test scores.” (393) The test score increases were only discussed in Italian American students, not the African American student.

I was kind of not impressed with this particular reading for two reasons:

  1. The African American student was never discussed in the second part of the reading, which stated only the increase in Italian American Test scores could be possibly explained as part of “cultural assimilation.”
  2. This first reason leads into my second reason:

  3. It suggests that a particular ethnic group can only be successful on intelligence scores if they “learn” to assimilate into the larger culture.

This makes me quite angry with the fact that Aboriginals were one of the many groups that were supposed to be assimilated into Canadian society. Could it be this attempted assimilation be due to in part to the particular thought during the time? Sure why not. Unfortunately, this is 2010 and readings like this suggesting that a more reasonable explanation behind higher test scores for one particular ethnic group could possibly be because of “cultural assimilation” continue to force assimilation, not just onto one ethnic group but to any group that isn’t part of the “dominate” or “more western” culture.

  • Please read my post on “Extinction” regarding Aboriginals.
  • Read my response, titled Intelligence and Aboriginals, to this “reasonable explanation” of “cultural assimilation” in increased intelligence test scores.
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Am I a "terrorist"?

Tonight, I just finished reading a journal article for political science class. This article was titled, Notes on Terrorism: Origins and Prevention by Ervin Staub.

This article peaked my interest on several instances. Two of these instances included:

1) It mentioned terrorists actions are from reactions to feelings of being marginalized, along side the “clash of their traditional background.” (Staub 2002)

2) “Freedom, democracy, and equal opportunity… would help create societies that would more effectively integrate culture change with tradition” (Staub 2002)

These two stuck out to me because as an Aboriginal, I am aware that both Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals believe the Aboriginal community to be “marginalized.” I believe this as well. By believing this, it reminded me of my previous post on the Canadian Military listing Radical Aboriginal groups as insurgents, which included the Tamils on that list (Aboriginals: Past Insurgents). It made me question myself, “Does the fact that Aboriginals are considered to be marginalized really mean I can possibly be one day considered/profiled as a terrorist?” I only ask this because of the factual belief that Aboriginals are marginalized, and that the Canadian military once believed that “radical Aboriginal groups” were “insurgents.” Does this mean that all groups that are marginalized and “radical” are terrorists? Does that mean I am going to be profiled when I try to cross the international border or board a plane? I certainly hope not.

The second point really stuck out because I asked myself: Which culture with which tradition? Does this mean that the lesser of the two cultures in one society is to be marginalized to fit the tradition of the more dominant culture? If that is the case, does that not mean that the first point makes no sense if the second one is enforced. Only because the second point will create more marginalization if the lesser of the two cultures in society is to be “effectively integrated” by “culture change with tradition” into the more dominant culture aka Westernized by tradition and culture.

This article also reminded me of the time I was once approached by a non-Aboriginal person after knowing them for a few months. She approached me and said, “I didn’t know you were Aboriginal. I thought you were kind of intimidating and scary when I first met you.”(As if being Aboriginal and “scary” go hand-in-hand). At first I laughed and then I asked her why she thought I was “scary.” She replied, “Because you didn’t talk to me.” I told her, “Just because I am shy, doesn’t mean I am scary”

With that being said, let me tell you two things about the “big bad scary” me:

1) I will be the first one to scream when the lights suddenly go out.

2) At the site of a spider, I scream and run…. 20 feet away from the spider.

Based on this article and based on this ignorant conversation I had with one person, I am left questioning my own self and my own identity once again, and most importantly left with many unanswered questions. One of these questions being: will I be profiled as a terrorist one day just because I am a “marginalized” group that should have my culture “integrated” into “traditional” society aka Westernized?