This Exam Celebrated Black Culture While Exposing Racism In IQ Tests

students sitting down working on a test
Adé Hennis
April 2, 2024

It was an exam that Black people knew they would ace, even though they called it a B.I.T.C.H.

When psychologist Robert Lee Williams created the Black Intelligence Test of Cultural Homogeneity (better known by its initials BITCH) in 1972, he knew that Black test takers would score much higher than their white counterparts. But this experiment wasn’t aiming to highlight the brightness of Black people. It was set on exposing a hidden truth lurking in the dark.

Having dropped out of college because of a discouraging score on an IQ test, Williams knew what it was like to have an arbitrary standardized test block him from achieving his goals. So his B.I.T.C.H. test revealed the ways in which the racial and cultural biases of IQ tests put Black students at a disadvantage.

Williams presented the test results to the American Psychological Association in 1972, where it made national headlines. In 1977 the test was even considered to measure the awareness of Black culture among white applicants to the Portland, Oregon, police force.

The B.I.T.C.H. test showed how standardized IQ tests discriminate against Black people, but Williams’ story shows us that our ways of knowing and understanding the world are more powerful than any test created. After all, the world is built on our knowledge.

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