Snobbery, white and black

A reader unfolds a new side of race relations: black emulation of white liberal snobbery. She writes:

Howard Sutherland said, “Why does Coulter who is no fool even if hyper, get caught up in such things?” I don’t know much about Ann, but her contempt for Miers on the basis of what school she went to strikes me as a reaction more typical of liberals than of conservatives (assuming one can still differentiate between the two).

Liberals, at least the ones I know, place undue emphasis on the prestige-level of the schools they attended and the schools they send their kids to. Also, black kids I taught systematically rejected Temple in favor of Penn, Penn State, Pittsburgh, etc.. that is, when they could not get into Harvard. People joked that Temple was becoming a white school because blacks wouldn’t go there. I often received outrageous requests for letters of recommendation from kids barely literate who were applying to Vassar, Princeton, etc…

LA to reader:

Are you saying blacks were so snobbish they turned down their noses at Temple? Then why wouldn’t whites also turn down their noses at Temple? Are you saying blacks are more snobbish than whites?

Reader to LA:

I don’t know if they are more snobbish than whites. I do know that they had extremely unrealistic ambitions and a ridiculously unrealistic view of themselves. They had contempt for Temple because they had heard it was for poorer people, so they aimed for the places where the rich went. The fact that their reasoning was preposterous was not the point. The point was that they were following the rich, probably because they thought they would become rich that way. Likewise, they moved into well-to-do neighborhoods thinking they would become well-to-do. As the neighborhoods deteriorated, they blamed whites for handing bad neighborhoods over to them.

They were snobbish about other things. It was humiliating to live in an apartment, for example. Only home ownership was acceptable. Among themselves there was all manner of “class distinction”. For example, they used the “N” word to denote blacks of a lower class than themselves. In the classroom it was best not to imply that blacks were poor—they would fight back. They didn’t think of themselves as poor—they thought of themselves as having been given a raw deal by whites, but not poor.

There are plenty of whites who would disdain Temple (possibly Ann Coulter). But there is also a certain number of whites who go there gladly for whatever reason. The whites are (or were) better balanced—a certain number are interested in prestige and aim higher perhaps than they deserve to, but there are others who are reasonable about their goals. The blacks are an exaggeration of the snobbish whites whom they imitate, and they lack the ability to see themselves objectively. So, I’m tempted to say that it may be true that blacks are more snobbish than whites by virtue of the disproportionate number of them who have this contempt for others.

In connection with the above very interesting observations about black psychology, a reader has just sent me an article from from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (American Psychological Association), “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments.” Here is the abstract:

People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains. The authors suggest that this overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it. Across 4 studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability. Although their test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd. Several analyses linked this miscalibration to deficits in metacognitive skill, or the capacity to distinguish accuracy from error. Paradoxically, improving the skills of participants, and thus increasing their metacognitive competence, helped them recognize the limitations of their abilities.

In other words, the less cognitively skilled a person is, the more likely he is to overestimate his cognitive abilities. Which would explain why, according to numerous repeated studies, blacks have, not lower, but higher self-esteem than whites. Not only was the Brown decision based improperly on social science research (which supposedly showed lower racial self-esteem among black girls than among whites girls) instead of on the Constitution, but the research was erroneous to boot.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 15, 2005 02:19 PM | Send

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