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That ‘Chitling Test’ controversy

Gregory Kane | 10/18/2013, 6 a.m.
Forty-three years ago Adrian Dove, a black sociologist, created the Chitling Test of Intelligence.

Forty-three years ago Adrian Dove, a black sociologist, created the Chitling Test of Intelligence.

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Gregory Kane

His motives— I’m sure he thought so, anyway— were noble. Dove was trying to prove how culturally biased traditional “intelligence tests” of that era were. And he was trying to refute the argument of those that contended there was a persistent 15-point gap between the average IQ scores of whites and blacks.

It was the black average IQ score that was supposedly 15 points lower, of course, and Dove and others felt it was all because of cultural bias. Develop an “intelligence test” that was culturally biased in favor of blacks, the argument went, and the gap would either disappear or be skewed in favor of blacks.

Thus was the Chitling Test of Intelligence born. The original test had 30 questions, but most Internet sites give only the shorter, 15-question version of the test, which was probably the version that went over like a fart in church down in Anne Arundel County recently.

According to an article in The Baltimore Sun from Friday, October 11, 2013, “Arundel High School teachers showed juniors and seniors the 1971 Chitling Test of Intelligence, created by African American sociologist Adrian Dove to demonstrate cultural differences between races.”

Reporter Joe Burris wrote that “the 15-question test, however, contains

inflammatory language that some find offensive.” Burris cited as an example the question that asked “What are the Dixie Hummingbirds?”

The five multiple-choice answers given were these: (9a.) part of the KKK, (b.) a swamp disease, (c.) a modern gospel group, (d.) a Mississippi Negro paramilitary group, (e.) Deacons.

Sorry, but I find nothing either inflammatory or offensive about the question. Not so with some of the others, which indeed might well have been either or both.

Take question six, which immediately preceded the one about the Dixie Hummingbirds.

“Cheap chitlings (not the kind you purchase at a frozen food counter) will taste rubbery unless they are cooked long enough. How soon can you quit cooking them to eat and enjoy them?”

The multiple-choice answers given are these: (a) 45 minutes, (b) two hours, (c) 24 hours, (d) one week (on a low flame), (e) one hour.

It’s not that I don’t have the slightest idea what the correct answer is; it’s that I really don’t care.

And how dare Dove assume— I don’t care that it was way back in 1971— that all black folks just kind of know, implicitly, the proper cooking time for “cheap chitlings”?

I wasn’t all that thrilled by question eight either.

“If you throw the dice and seven is showing on top, what is facing down?”

The multiple-choice answers are these: (a) seven, (b) snake eyes, (c) boxcars, (d) little Joes, (e) 11.

So, in Dove’s view circa 1971, it was a cultural imperative for black folks to participate in crap games on a regular basis?

The most inflammatory and offensive question would have to be number 13, which read like this:

“Hattie Mae Johnson is on the County. She has four children and her husband is now in jail for non-support, as he was unemployed and not able to give her any money. Her welfare check is now $286 per month. Last night she went out with the highest player in town. If she got pregnant, then nine months from now how much more will her welfare check be?”

I won’t even bother to give the five multiple-choice answers. With one question Dove, though black himself, managed to reinforce every white racist stereotype about promiscuous black women, deadbeat black fathers and those freeloading blacks living it up on welfare, at the expense of white folks, of course.

Jacqueline Boone Allsup, the president of the Anne Arundel County branch of the NAACP, is quoted in Burris’ story as saying, “To look at the test and see what it says, we were quite alarmed because of the impact it would have on students, how it could affect their self-esteem and the way they view themselves.”

Ah, there is so much more wrong with this test than that, Ms. Allsup.