African-American class searches for truth

by Katina Wiley

News Reporter

"If you are the offspring of two blacks, you are genetically less intelligent. If you are mixed, or white and black ancestry, your intelligence is increased because of the presence of the superior white gene," said Dashiel Geyen, a UH-Downtown professor of African-American Issues in Psychology.

Geyen said these conclusions were a result of research done in 1900 that compared the genetic intelligence of whites and blacks.

He said he believes he is obliged to give this type of information to his students in order to expose "research from the past that has produced erroneous kinds of findings with regard to African-American people."

Geyen began teaching the course at UH five years ago at the request of former African-American Studies program director Elizabeth Brown-Guillory.

Geyen stands in front of his class in a well-tailored suit and speaks in nonthreatening tones about issues that typically create tension in the class. He said he is careful to keep the mood of the class upbeat.

"This course also helps non-African-American students respect the differences among groups," he said. "This knowledge helps empower black students and motivate them to accomplish more."

Psychology major Jeremy Reedus, 19, said, "As an African-American, I love this class. It gives me a chance to find out more about myself and, more importantly, about my culture."

Senior political science and psychology major Norman Ayoub, who is Egyptian, said he took the course in order to learn more about his roots.

Mary Curry, a UH assistant professor of sociology, said, "One of the things needed to really understand the history of this country is to understand the history of black people. There is such a lack of knowledge about the African-American community or even about the reality of black life."

Geyen said when he was an undergraduate researching information on African-American issues in psychology, little or no information was available.

"I received no guidance, and the discipline wasn't taken seriously," he said. "I asked one of my professors about the work of black psychologist Adrian Dove, and he laughed, telling me that `Dove's work was a joke.' "

Curry said she also experienced problems researching information for her course that deals with the black family.

"I was shocked at how little information is available," she said.

In addition, she said, much of the information that passes off as knowledge is not the truth.

She said, "What (students are) interested is in the truth. If you don't have the truth, you don't have anything."

Visit The Daily Cougar