In their review of Race and the Genetic Revolution: Science, Myth, and Culture, Lundy Braun and Amed Logrono note the "re-emergence of research linking intelligence to race" and go on to state, "That this is happening now in the field of psychology is all the more troubling, given that there is no consensus on what actually constitutes this thing we call intelligence." In addition to this caution, I add that it is troubling because we do not really know what is meant by "race." Williams (2006) states,
For scholars who examine and analyze the germination, maturation, demise, and revival of particular ideas from one historical epoch to another, the malleability of most ideas is axiomatic. Yet the questions of how and why certain ideas retain their essential valuations for centuries are, for most historians of ideas, more problematic—especially in the case of an idea as volatile as that of race. (p.120)Braun and Logrono note the implications of our research endeavors failing to critically examine the meaning of race for areas as diverse as forensics and education. Given discussions of disparities, I add health to the list of research areas in need of examination where the discourse on race is concerned.
Setting aside the studies of the impact of the social assignment of race on relationships, resources, opportunities, and life outcomes, I tend to think that most studies of race are consciously or unconsciously alluding to race as a biological construct. However, we cannot know this if we do not ask. How often do reviewers of journals critically consider this issue, and what are the consequences of this discipline's failure to address what is meant by "race" on the value of psychology’s contributions to science? As psychologists, we proudly participated in The Decade of Behavior (2000–2010) and loudly trumpeted our ability to assist society in meeting some of its greatest challenges, racism included. At this juncture it is important that we ask ourselves where we intend to lead society where issues of race are concerned.
By Lundy Braun and Amed Logrono
PsycCRITIQUES, 2012 Vol 57(16)