Science fair project questioning the intelligence of African Americans sparks outrage

A student at C.K. McClatchy High School in Sacramento did a racist science project questioning whether certain races of people were capable of handling a magnet program and its academically challenging coursework. The project sparked outrage among parents, teachers and students alike.

Some of those angered say that the racist project shines a light on a bigger problem which is the lack of ethnic diversity in the school’s elite HISP program.

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The student titled the project “Race and IQ,” and the hypothesis was, “If the average IQs of blacks, Southeast Asians, and Hispanics are lower than the average IQs of non-Hispanic whites and Northeast Asians, then the racial disproportionality in (HISP) is justified.”

The school put the project on display with the other science projects so that it could be judged by a group of community members. The complaints poured in from students, parents as well as staff members.

The racist science project had a bibliography as well as quotes from five separate books. One was written in 1904 and was titled “The Essential Kafir.” That book argued that South African black people were intellectually inferior to white people. The work kaffir is now used as a racist term in South Africa. Much like how in North America we refer to the N-word, they call it the K-word.

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“I think that a lot of people, especially of color, are really hurt and upset by this,” Chrysanthe Vidal, a senior in the HISP program said.

According to her, the student who put the racist science project together has a history of making racist statements in class. His peers say he is Asian and is part of the accelerated Humanities and International Studies program (HISP).

The point of the program is to promote cultural awareness and sensitivity and in some cases, includes alternate viewpoints on history. An example of this is that while they learned about Christopher Columbus, the students also took how he perpetrated the “Indian genocide” and what the Native Americans were put through at the time.

“We’ve clearly not progressed as much as the students want to think we have,” said one freshman in HISP. “It’s just kind of shocking to think someone could enter into that program knowing that is what we are learning about and being so closed-minded.”

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Peter Lambert, the principal at the school sent an email to parents.

Principal Peter Lambert also Thursday sent an email message to parents. “I want to be clear that at McClatchy High School we promote and embrace an inclusive environment and way of thinking which excludes any form of discrimination,” he wrote. “Many of you have asked me what our school is doing in response to this incident. I want you to know we are taking this incident very seriously and we will be reviewing the incident and implementing all measures as appropriate to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all of our students.”