Jason Richwine has plenty to say on the subject of race.
The co-author of a controversial study by the Heritage Foundation estimating that immigration reform will cost taxpayers $6.3 trillion came under fire this week for his 2009 Harvard dissertation arguing that Hispanics are genetically predisposed to having low IQs.
Richwine elaborates on his ideas about race in a recording of a talk televised on C-Span2 in 2008 that was uploaded to YouTube on Thursday.
The videos were first noted by Sara Inés Calderón on Politic365.
Several prominent voices in the Latino community pounced on Richwine over the doctoral dissertation, calling it offensive and inaccurate. The Heritage Foundation distanced itself from the document, saying the dissertation does not reflect the values of the think tank.
These new videos raise more questions about Richwine’s grasp of ethnicity, U.S. history and Latino culture -- topics that he would presumably need to understand in order to analyze the connection between race and IQ. Here are some of the highlights from the video above. Let us know what you think in the comments.
On African Americans.
“Obviously, I think with blacks we know that -- at least in my opinion -- I think black and white culture has, if anything, diverged in the last 50 years rather than converged.”
The statement appears to part from the assumption that that “white culture” is better than “black culture,” which is subjective. Beyond that, is Richwine really saying that white and black culture are more divergent today than in 1963, before the passage of the Civil Rights Act?
On Native Americans.
“American Indians have been here a long time and we still have Indian reservations.”
American Indians were forced onto reservations by the U.S. government. It’s difficult to see how living on reservations constitutes lack of assimilation when it wasn’t a free choice to begin with.
On Mexican Americans.
“And Mexican Americans, we tend to think of them as being here only recently, and I believe it’s something like ¾ of them have been either first generation or second generation immigrants today. But they’ve been around since the Mexican American War.”
The people known today as Mexican Americans have actually been in North America for far longer than the first Anglophone immigrants. During the Spanish colonial period, people first explored what is today the U.S. Southwest from Mexico in the 16th century and established permanent settlements in Texas by 1710.
On the Latino “race.”
“I don’t think they have been defined as white -- certainly not by Europeans, and really not by themselves either -- except in the cases in which they’re trying to distinguish themselves from being black.”
It’s clear from this statement that Richwine views Latinos as an ethnically homogenous group. But as we’ve pointed out many times before, “Latino” is not a race -- it is an ethnicity. And that goes for Mexican Americans as well as the rest of the people of Latin American descent living in the United States.
Latin American countries are multiracial, and Latinos can be white, black, indigenous, mestizo -- even Asian. So, European-descended Mexican Americans who are phenotypically white often do identify themselves as white, while the majority of mestizos generally define themselves as mestizo. And, naturally, the minority of Mexicans of African descent may identify as black.