The Genius of Black Children

The Black child is born with great, great potential. We have indicated in the book, The Developmental Psychology of the Black Child, that “the Black child is not a white child ‘painted’ black.” In the Black child Afrikan heritage means something. The Black man being the first man to walk this earth, to establish civilizations, to build institutions, governments and so forth, I think is still genetically represented in the Black child. We now quote the following from The Developmental Psychology of the Black Child:

Comparison of African and European Psychomotor Development:

1. Nine (9) hours old being drawn up in a sitting position, able to prevent its head from falling backward; it takes the European child (six) 6 weeks.
2. Two (2) days old, with head held firmly, looking in the face of the examiner; the European child eight (8) weeks.
3. Seven (7) weeks old, supporting herself in a sitting position and watching her reflection in the mirror; the European child twenty (20) weeks.
4. Five (5) months old, holding herself upright; the European child nine (9) months.
5. Five (5) months old, taking the round block out of its hole in the form board; the European child takes eleven (11) months. Five (5) months old, standing against the mirror; it takes the European child nine (9) months.
6. Seven (7) months old, walking to the Gesell Box to look inside; it takes the European child fifteen (15) months.
7. Eleven (11) months old, climbing the steps alone; the European child takes fifteen (15) months.’

The differences in Afrikan and European heritages are responsible for these developmental differences. This is why we have to look at Afrika as the source of understanding the development of our children — not Europe.

It is the use of Europeans as our standard of measure that has turned Black psychology into a psychology of deviancy, which makes us talk about our children in terms of deviances, deficiencies, as slow learners, and in other kinds of negative ways. We are using the wrong standard of measurement. One of the major things necessary for enhancing the intelligence of our children is to have knowledge of their development. It has been shown clearly that it is not so much the income, but a knowledge of how our children develop that is very important to their intellectual development. Our lack of knowledge about the development of our children helps to retard the intellectual potential that our children so abundantly possess. If we use European developmental scales we may be waiting too late since their children develop later than our own. We must gear the education of our children to their developmental rates. Because our children are growing at different rates and in different ways compared to whites they must have different standards for meeting their nutritional needs. All of these things point to the need for us to have a sound knowledge of the Afrikan child.

It is not what we’ve got, it is not the status of the parents that is important, but it’s what we parents do that is most important for enhancing the intelligence of our children. Much of what we need does not require money. Interest, motivation, dedication is what we need. We can make various toys out of empty boxes. We can give a child pots and pans to play with, anything to develop its discrimination and to develop its coordination, to develop the feel for objects. To develop many of its abilities we can go to the park and classify flowers, we can pick up rocks and teach categorization. We can hunt butterflies, or bees, or anything: all of which can become a basis for scientific thought development. We can look in store windows and talk about colors. We can use things all around us.

Infant Stimulation: The nature of the home environment at six months can give us some indication of how the infant’s mind is going to be at three and four years old. The emotional nature of the home, the emotional responses of the mother, the parental involvement of the mother with the child, the provision of appropriate play materials, are very important to the child’s development. Play things are very important. Give them something to see, touch, draw, manipulate, hit, to rattle. All those things are important for growth and development.

The Japanese are surpassing the Europeans and their IQ is growing. Discover magazine, September 1982, asked the following question — “IQ Are The Japanese Really Smarter?” White Americans are asking themselves this question. That sounds like our question, doesn’t it? It is amazing to see them in this predicament. Because they told us that IQ is innate. When they tested the Japanese back in the 1940s the average scores were basically the same. But what shocks them is that in 1983, the Japanese average score is 15 points above that of the average White American. Japanese IQ has grown, and they are wondering if it is going to keep growing. When they told us that their average score was 15 points above ours they swore that intelligence is inborn and natural! What are they going to say now? That the Japanese are naturally, innately smarter? No! They are not admitting that now. When you read this article you read them saying, “Let’s look at the schools, let’s see how they are being educated.” They present all the comparisons of how much time White children stay in class as compared to the Japanese. In fact, a part of this educational report suggests that Americans must get our children to stay in school longer because the Japanese stay in school longer. So we see all those environmental arguments that we had put forward in the defense of our intelligence, that they so valiantly resisted, they themselves are using now that they are in the very same position. “We must restructure the schools; we must restructure the family; we must restructure the value system”; because all of a sudden they find all these things are important to the intellectual growth and advancement of their children.

Language Development:  Black children are psychomotorically ahead of White children until they get to about age three. The major reason why they start falling behind at age three, and particularly five, is because their way of dealing with the world shifts. Up to about age two or three, the major way of dealing with the world is to deal with it concretely, i.e., through the ability to handle objects, to coordinate the body and psychophysical systems. But at around the age of three, the way of dealing with the world is increasingly by the word, and it is at that point that our children begin to slip because they do not use words and language as proficiently as they should. We may brag about how we are able to dance and throw basketballs, but in the end it is not the throwing of the basketballs that determines power in the world. It is the ability to use words and symbols. One of the other reasons why our children remain stuck intellectually is that we were brought to this world, the “New World” — and the function of the Afrikans the world-over is — to be servants to Europeans.

Therefore we tend to think like servants. Our ability to think abstractly is detrimental to European interests. If we want to know the characteristics that White racism wishes to impose on the Black child (and on Black people in general) there is one major question we may ask yourselves. What is it that we must not be able to do or have in our character if the White man is to stay dominant? And we will see those characteristics missing or impaired in many of us and our children. For Afrikan people must not think abstractly because we may see through his [ White oppressor’s] game. We must not think logically and relationally; every thing must be immediate and concrete or we may see the games that he is running on us. If the Europeans are to continue to dominate us, certain intellectual, social, emotional-behavioral and organizational abilities must be repressed in Afrikan children; the ability to read and understand language profoundly must be reduced.

The White man is so arrogant that he puts his knowledge right in front of our face most often in written form. He doesn’t keep us from going to libraries, he doesn’t keep us from reading, he doesn’t keep us from buying books. But he has so manipulated our interest and motivation, has put us in such a state that he can place written and other forms of information right before our eyes and we will not look at and understand them. And every means by which the White man rules us is written in books — every one of them. But we are not going to see them. We read about the rat in the Skinner box and don’t know we are the rat in the box. We read about Pavlov’s dog and we don’t know that we are the dog! We read how he (the White man) controls consciousness: he has whole chapters on consciousness, how people are put under hypnosis, how to propagandize people.

All of these methods are in books. The White imperialist does not hide them from us at all. Because he knows that our mentality is twisted in such a way he has little need to do so. Because he has reduced early in our lives the ability to read between the lines. He has reduced our ability to go beyond what we see. He has reduced early in our lives our intense desire to pursue sequential-thinking and implications; to read something and to ask what does it mean for the future? Or he reduces early in our lives our ability or desire to look in the past, connect it with the present, and project it into the future. We live for the moment.

But we must connect the past and the present, we must be able to look at what’s going on in the present and project probabilities as to what is going to happen in the future. Our ability to project into the future permits us to act on the present so as to influence the future; to say, ‘Well, looking at the way things are going, the way the current interactions are taking place, I see a future that I don’t want. And since I see a future that I don’t want, let me change the nature of this interaction so that it can bring about a world that I do want.’

One of the most important ways of breaking the reins of concrete thinking is through the expanded use of language. With expanded language we can mentally travel the world. With language we go into the fourth dimension. With language we can fly in space, we go anywhere we want to go. With symbols we create anything that we want to create. Let’s turn our children on to symbols. See that they learn word-meanings. See that they know how to ask questions and deal with questions. Give them aspirations and expectations. One of the reasons our children do not grow as much as they can is because we do not expect them to grow to their fullest extent.

Our children are born with the best brains in the world and they can deal with any kind of problem that we put to them. Any kind of problem that we must solve, whether it is science, technology, mathematics or whatever — they can solve! We did it in Egypt! We don’t need any proof of our capability of doing it! Our people were among the first to invent mathematics, so when we practice it we are practicing our heritage. But if we believe Black people are not good in math, then, of course, we are going to produce exactly what we believe. If we expect and can believe then we can produce whatever we will — but we must believe.

Amos Wilson