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The Races of Mankind

Source: Newsletter, March 1944

Context: “The members of the Council of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, an organization consisting of nearly 300 professional psychologists and other social scientists, have authorized the release of the following statement:

Position Statement: “The booklet 'The Races of Mankind,’ written by Professor Ruth Benedict and Dr. Gene Weltfish of the Department of Anthology at Columbia University, is an able polarization of sound anthropological and psychological knowledge. Its central thesis—that there is no real evidence for the belief in the innate superiority of any one race over any other, and that racism is therefore superstition represents the consensus of opinion among the overwhelming majority of American social scientists.

The material which the booklet presents, including the statement during the last war Negro recruits from certain northern states obtained, on the average, better scores on intelligence tests than whites in certain of the southern states, can be fully documented. The pamphlet carefully points out that this particular fact does not in any way indicate that southern whites are innately inferior, but that it reflects differences in educational standards and opportunities in various parts of the country, prior to the First World War. The Booklet in general is not only good science; it is also a contribution to true democracy.

Any effort to halt distribution of 'The Races of Mankind' represents a concession to prejudice. Indeed a wider dissemination of the content of the booklet will help bring a little nearer the kind of the world for which the democracies are now striving.”