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On Black Women. A Case of When the Researcher’s Agenda and Lazy Research Mixes and Goes Terribly Wrong. A rebuttal: “Chemical relaxers linked to high uterine fibroid risks among African-American Women? I doubt it | The Urban Scientist, Scientific American Blog Network”

Chemical relaxers linked to high uterine fibroid risks among African-American Women? I doubt it | The Urban Scientist, Scientific American Blog Network

I love the rebuttal in the article linked above. Please read it.

Well this is another case of what happens when the researcher’s agenda and lazy research mixes and goes terribly wrong. The authors of the study automatically linked fibroids to relaxers. As a researcher or even as a 6th grade science student the first thing you are taught is that “CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION.” Simply put that one thing does not automatically cause the other thing to happen. Things aren’t all inextricably linked. For example, I have brown eyes. Just because I have brown eyes does not mean the reason why I have brown eyes is because I hate chocolate. Both are true but one thing does cause another. I have brown eyes because of genetics and I hate chocolate because it is nasty.

What authors of the study failed to account for were the disparities known even among laywomen like me. This includes racism within the healthcare system itself and lack of access to quality healthcare for some Black Women. This is why I encourage Black women to remain skeptical regarding some of these “studies” on us.

Legitimate studies endure a peer review.  A peer review is when other researchers (peers) literally dissect the study. The peers examine methods the study. They try to see if the results of study and the outcome can be replicated. They see if the study was ethical. Most importantly the purpose of a peer review is that they have the power to send back, reject or approve a study for publication.  Even peer reviews can be flawed. I have to remind you that when we see a study we have to remember that most of these people conducting peer reviews are sadly not Black women.  As of 2009, only 6% of all faculty at post secondary institutions were African American. So biases may not be acknowledged or people could be flat out ignorant. Perhaps this is why this study was published. ((Never take anyone’s word without finding out their motives.))  This is why I ask readers to be vigilant when reading studies or anything else. Here are some things you should ask yourself when presented with a study:

  • Who is conducting the study?
  • Who is funding the study?
  • Why is the study being conducted?
  • Who benefits from the study?
  • Who does not benefit from the study?
  • Who was a part of the study?
  • Why was this specific demographic targeted for the study?
  • After the study is concluded what actions will be taken?

I can point out instances where a study about Black Women made the evening news only to be found out that the study was either flawed or misinterpreted. And even after the flaws were pointed out in the study the study still made the rounds among the talking heads and Black Women misogynists who want to slice and dice us.

Remember these studies:

  • Study finds median wealth for single black women at $5

Well this study was a study about WOMEN OF COLOR. When did “Women of Color” signify all Black Women. The article also fails to mention this was for women ages 35-64. But the meme of ALL Black women being poor, broke but happy made its way around the internet.  The original study is fabulous and very gloomy however the media took the data and sensationalized it.

The original study: Lifting As We Climb: Women of Color, Wealth, and America’s Future by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development

  • Black Women Are Less Attractive? - Black News, Opinion, Politics …

Well it turns out the data provided was incredibly and blatantly misused. The author (which I believe purposely) did not account for racism, the age of people in the study (the particpants were teenagers), the socioeconomic differences and other variables. Also the author had a history of questionable “studies” in the past.  Unfortunately, the media took it seriously and ran with it. The study made the rounds on the national news and circulated the internet. It took a concerted effort from African American female bloggers and other academics to point out the flaws in the study.

Take a look at Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman’s, Ph.D., awesome rebuttal “Black Women Are Not (Rated) Less Attractive! Our Independent Analysis of the Add Health Dataset” to Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa’s original article in Psychology Today.

Unfortunately, even after the data was refuted the damage had already been done. What can we do? Have a healthy dose of skepticism and if something does not sound right is usually is not right.  Or even better look up the numbers yourself.

Employees in degree-granting institutions, by race/ethnicity and primary occupation: Fall   2009

Primary occupation Race/ethnicity
White Total White Black Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islander American Indian/Alaska Native
Total, all institutions 3,723,419 2,586,098 366,324 220,794 208,842 21,994
Professional staff 2,782,149 1,983,921 207,335 123,718 169,582 14,415
Executive/administrative/managerial 230,579 182,459 21,828 11,486 7,782 1,288
Faculty (instruction/research/public service) 1,439,144 1,078,392 95,095 57,811 86,308 7,074
Graduate assistants 342,393 174,127 13,511 12,436 23,891 1,595
Other professional 770,033 548,943 76,901 41,985 51,601 4,458
Nonprofessional staff 941,270 602,177 158,989 97,076 39,260 7,579
Source: National Center for Education Statistics


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