If you read the links on previous posts you’ll find ‘a lack of self-esteem’ adduced as one of the main explanations for low Black SAT scores. This is ridiculous on any number of counts, most obviously by avoiding the IQ elephant in the room. But where do they get the idea that Blacks have low self-esteem? In fact the contrary is the case, especially for the younger cohort for whom a preening swaggering bravado, totally unrelated to actual capabilities, is standard behaviour. And that’s not just my impression.
Bernadette Gray-Little, a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina, performed a complex review of every piece of research available on black self-esteem.’There have been inconsistencies in the results of the studies on this topic over time,’ says Gray-Little. ‘I wanted to see if I could find any basis for a firm conclusion. And if inconsistencies occurred, I wanted to know when and why.’ …
She found that before the age of 10, whites slightly surpass blacks in self-esteem. Everyone’s self-esteem dips in the later years of school. After that, blacks narrowly but consistently surpass whites, up to the age of 21, the upper limit of the study.
The self-esteem gap seems to depend on wealth. Low-income blacks show higher self-esteem than low-income whites. But the gap disap pears at higher income levels. The study also shows that black self-esteem has not risen over time. The theory of many psychologists was that as blacks gained in civil liberties, their self-esteem would rise. But the study shows it has never been low.
The report will confound black activists who have seen raising black self-esteem as the key to overcoming social disadvantage. At the all-black Paul Robeson Academy in Detroit, students start the day by standing up and proclaiming: ‘I feel like somebody. I act like somebody. Nobody can make me feel like a nobody!’
In Britain, many companies now have mentoring schemes to help people from ethnic minorities. The Millennium Commission is funding a three-year programme to expand such schemes.