By Marissa Johnson
The Atlanta Star published an article discussing ten disparaging theories about #black people, spread by respected learned scientists, that insult black people in the name of science.
Samuel A. Cartwright, a physicist, created a made-up condition to explain why black slaves run away. He called this drapetomania. He was under the assumption that black people are naturally subservient and docile and that to resist was evidence for mental illness.
What’s the prescription for this so-called illness? Beat the slave who runs away and treat the other slaves like children. Maybe Cartwright should have just stuck to physics.
Another theory that has since been disproved was the Bell Curve Theory. Sir Francis Galton invented this. He tried to race the aptitude of different races. In his ranking system, blacks were inferior to whites but superior to indigenous Australians. He published his beliefs in the 1800’s.
Also, scientists believed that white people were the first humans. George-Louis Loclerc, a Frenchman, like Galton ranked the races.
Sir William Petty was another so-called scientist with misguided notions about black people. He lived in the 17th century. His theory of the scale of creatures helped to justify slave trading. He argued that God intends for the Europeans to have dominion over everything and everyone else. Also, he compares black people to monkeys.
Another highly offensive and false theory was that black women were nymphomaniacs. In the 19th century, black women were viewed as side shows. They’re naked bodies were often exploited. Because one black woman had a longer labia, some people concluded that black females must have wider birth canals and that birth was easy for black women.
This was a convenient theory for slave masters to latch on to, because it meant masters could send very pregnant women to toil in the field and put them back to work as soon as they gave birth.
Also, Hottentot Venus was part of this theory that black women were highly sexual.
Another theory is more troubling than the other theories, because it is a fairly recent theory. This proves that racial attitudes among scientists still need some serious evaluation.
As recent as 2011, a psychologist named Satoshi Kanazawa posted on Psychology Today’s site his theory that black women are less attractive. Not only did he lack proper evidence, he failed to prove that he had followed proper scientific experimental protocol.
Psychology Today removed the controversial post.
Negroidism was another theory that has since been disproven. Benjamin Rush, a doctor in the 1700’s claimed that dark skin was a disease that could be treated. He used this as a justification to prevent mixing of the races, as this is a contagious disease the children will catch. Henry Moss, a slave, was his entire justification for this false theory. Moss had white patches on his skin.
Admired by the Nazis, Alfred Ploetz had a theory he called Rassenhygiene. Ploetz was a eugenist who was given a professorship by Hitler. His theory claims that whites are superior and that interracial relations dilute white racial purity. He says the solution is selective breeding and he advocated to kill disabled people.
Racial purity is another theory that was prevalent. Houston Stewart Chamberlain is credited with this theory, and he was admired by Hitler and the Nazis like Ploetz. He claims that Jews are mixed, so the white race isn’t pure. He considers Jews to be black people. What did Chamberlain say the solution was? He said get rid of the Jews.
The last myth that has since been disproved was the Hamitic myth. It basically assumes that black Africans were incapable of being civilized or of developing their own society. Darker skinned whites, the Hamites, were supposedly smarter than the Africans and thus conquered them. Basically, this denies black people credit for building their own civilizations.
It is startling how many theories from respected “scientists” were completely off-base. These stereotypes, to an extent, still exist in America today.