Race and IQ Project
The offensive science fair project contained quotes from a 1904 book that suggested Black South Africans were intellectually inferior to whites. (Image courtesy of the Sacramento Bee)

A Sacramento magnet school program is under fire after one of its students submitted a project questioning whether folks of certain races were intelligent enough to handle the program’s rigorous academic coursework.

Students, parents and staff expressed outrage over the offensive project, which was put on display as part of C.K. McClatchy High School’s Mini Science Fair this week, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Conveniently titled “Race and IQ,” the project raised the hypothesis: “… If the average IQ of Blacks, Southeast Asians and Hispanics are lower than the average IQs of non-Hispanic whites and Northeast Asians, then the racial disproportionality in the (Humanities and Int’l Studies Program) is justified.” The project stood alongside dozens of others on Monday to be judged by a group of community members but was removed just two days later after several people complained.

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

The report, prepared by a student who Vidal said is known for making racist comments, featured a bibliography and quotes from five books, including one from 1904 titled “The Essential Kafir.” The text argued that Black South Africans were intellectually inferior to their white counterparts. Meanwhile, the term “kaffir” has since evolved to a racial slur there.

While HISP was designed to promote cultural awareness and sensitivity, parents argue the program lacks ethnic diversity and this latest incident is proof of that. Data provided by the district shows the program currently has 508 students enrolled, including 80 Hispanics, 12 African-Americans and 104 Asian. The student who authored the controversial project is of Asian descent as well.

“My HISP class, I don’t think we have a single African American person in my class, which is kind of shocking consider HISP’s big deal is cultural expression,” one HISP student told the Sacramento Bee. “We have very little interaction with anyone outside our classes … I definitely think we would benefit at some level to being exposed to a community outside our circle.”

According to the paper, the unnamed student tested his race and IQ hypothesis by having teens of various backgrounds take an online intelligence test. His conclusion? “[That] the lower average IQs of Blacks, Southeast Asians, and nonwhite Hispanics means that they are not as likely as non-Hispanic whites and Northeast Asians to be accepted into a more academically rigorous program such as HISP.”

“Therefore, the racial disproportionality of HISP is justified,” he added.

Alex Barrios, a spokesman for the Sacramento Unified School District, said the district is aware of the incident and is actively investigating the matter. While the project was racist and offensive to many, Barrios said the student may not have violated any rules if his hypothesis fell within the guidelines of the assignment.

“We are looking into the appropriate response to a situation like this,” he said. “We understand it concerns a lot of people and doesn’t reflect our culture here.”

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