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The Black Intelligence Test of Cultural Homogeneity

Instructor: Karin Gonzalez

Karin has taught middle and high school Health and has a master's degree in social work.

In this lesson, you will learn about the meaning, origins, and creator of the Black Intelligence Test of Cultural Homogeneity. You will learn about the experiment of this test and be given sample questions. Following the lesson will be a brief quiz.

What Is the Black Intelligence Test of Cultural Homogeneity?

The late 1960s and early 1970s was a time of Black Power. African-Americans and other black people in the United States were being granted more rights and were no longer segregated from white people; the brutality and violence that came with the transparent and tolerated racism before this time was decreasing. Part of this black power was a push for more equal opportunity for black people and for the government to take action in making right what was wrong for so many years.

Dr. Robert Williams, an African-American psychologist and professor, saw the bias in intelligence tests towards white people. He theorized that this white bias was causing white people to score higher on intelligence tests than African-Americans or black people. Mr. Williams saw this as a problem, because low scores for black people were hurting their chances to get jobs, go to certain schools, and have other opportunities for success. Not to mention, scoring low on intelligence tests was affecting black or African-American self-esteem, confidence, and motivation to achieve and succeed.

In response to his concern, Williams created the Black Intelligence Test of Cultural Homogeneity, or BITCH-100, which was a 100-item test that included vocabulary most black people would understand and recognize as a part of their typical vernacular and lifestyle. Created in 1972, this test took about two years to develop, and its purpose was to determine if Williams' theory was correct--that intelligence testing was biased.

Experiment Using the BITCH-100

Williams believed that if black people performed better on this test than white people, it would prove that a biased test would result in a biased success rate among races and cultures. And so, he conducted experiments to test the validity of this theory.

In one major experiment of the BITCH-100, 100 white students and 100 black students from St. Louis ages 16 to 18 took the test. Half of the students were from a poor socioeconomic class, and half were middle class. The black students answered 87/100 right, on average, and the white students answered only about 51/100 right, on average. This experiment furthered Williams' theory that black students were at a significant disadvantage in taking intelligence tests that contained mostly white vernacular with reference to white lifestyle and culture.

Sample Questions

The BITCH-100 was made up of 100 multiple choice questions asking the meaning of words. Many of the vocabulary terms on the test were part of slang that was used in the black ghettos. Here are some sample questions from the test:

  1. Clean: a) just out of the bathtub b) very well dressed c) very religious d) has a great deal
  2. Mother's Day: a) Black independence day b) a day when mothers are honored c) a day the welfare checks come in d) every first Sunday in church
  3. Blood: a) a vampire b) a dependent individual c) an injured person d) a brother of color

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