I am a 21-year-old black man. I am an atheist, a registered Republican, and a member of Mensa. Already a minority within a minority within a minority, I have yet another idiosyncrasy that puts me in an even more unusual category: I am a race realist. I believe that consistently observed racial disparities in societal outcomes are largely rooted in genetic differences, primarily differences in average levels of intelligence.
I grew up in a two-parent, upper-middle-class household in a predominately black city. My parents worked hard so I could attend high-performing private (predominately white) schools throughout my life. They taught me to be respectful, to value education, and to take life seriously. Most notably, they taught me that race did not matter in the least, and that one should not consider it either when forming friendships or when dealing with people in general. I had mostly white friends and sought to assimilate into mainstream American society.
Two incidents while I was in elementary school were informative from a racial perspective. I recall a visit to the local children’s museum in which historical footage was being shown. What particularly struck me was a recording of Africans swinging from vines in the jungle, wearing minimal clothing, and living in primitive conditions. This was an utter shock to my sensibilities. Prior to this, I had believed that Africans had sophisticated and technologically advanced civilizations. This image of Africans as simple and unaccomplished did not at all fit into the framework of my beliefs about the world. Moreover, this was an actual video recording, not something that could be dismissed as hearsay or fabrication.
Another noteworthy challenge to my views on race came in the form of an issue of National Geographic we were assigned to read in class. It was about ancient Egypt, which I had until then thought to be a black civilization. It included pictures of modern Egyptians who were more Arab in appearance and clearly not black Africans. I was disappointed, as my view of ancient Egypt as a black achievement had been jeopardized. These events forced me to reevaluate my worldview, although they did not yet sway me all the way to race realism.