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Fact Check: Is the use of the SAT Reasoning test racist?


The American media and education systems are great at feeding us lies. Either given with knowledge, ignorance, malicious intent or not, these inaccuracies have proven to negatively affect the well being of Black folks by setting us up for political, social, mental, psychological, economic, and spiritual hardship. We must stay equipped with knowledge of our history. If we don’t learn it, share it, and protect it, then who will? Today, I’m kicking off a series of brief articles that revisits a number of American myths surrounding the many facets of Black communities. Each time, we will test the myths with some research and discuss below in the comments.

Today’s Fact Check revisits the use of standardized testing for Black students in America. It has been long debated whether or not the actual tests hold a cultural or racial bias in the ways in which they are developed, conducted, promoted and evaluated. I encourage you to read some of these for yourself. While there are countless studies that argue for both sides of this debate, it is important to consider the source, the creator, Carl Campbell Brigham. Here’s a word from Mr. Brigham:

“We must face a possibility of racial admixture here in America that
is infinitely worse than that faced by any European
country today, for we are incorporating the Negro into
our racial stock, while all of Europe is comparatively free
from this taint…due to the marked intellectual inferiority
of the Negroes, the Negro child cannot advance through
educational curriculum adapted to the Anglo-Saxon
child…Negroes must be kept from doing more harm to
the pool of American Intelligence”

Brigham was a psychologist and pioneer of educational testing who spent much of his career developing the alpha and beta tests for the US military. He is most known for his extensive writings and speeches on the superiority of the Nordic White race, associating the future downturn of the United States with the presence of inferior races of people. Needless to say, his position of power allowed for his ideas to heavily inform a number of areas of American policy, including anti-immigration policy, welfare, health care, and education.

Although it is suggested that he later denounced his white supremacist views, this was too little, too late given the explosion of “scientifically supported” racially biased policies affected every aspect of American life. He is known as a trailblazer in the field of Eugenics, the pseudo-scientific field that powered The Holocaust and other atrocities by “improving the genetic make-up of a population.Brigham did this by finding ways to develop tests that would justify and document the “inferiority” of the minds and bodies of non-white communities of America.

In his well documented career, Brigham was contracted to begin working with the american government and university system to begin applying these principles to the American education system, primarily through the development of psychometrics, tests that assessed the psychological, emotional, and mental assets of the American people. Brigham created the first SAT test, and chaired the College Board, the company that currently produces and administers the SAT test, from 1923-1926, during the height of his racist writings and campaigns. the impact of his thoughts and writings are quite clear: America in the 1920s gained the “scientific” support and justification it needed to shut out non-whites from resources critical to their own livelihood.

It is clear that these types of tests were initially created to stratify the American people into superior and inferior roles. Is this still the same today? How have these tests changed? Have they changed at all? Should we continue to support these tests by subjecting our Black youth to constructs that do not adequately measure their ability to acheive in educational and professional areas?

Share your thoughts below.


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