Sub-Saharan Africans

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Sub-Saharan Africans
This article does not duplicate any of the contents of the articles about racial differences that are listed in Template:Race differences. See those articles for such racial differences.

Sub-Saharan Africans (also Black Africans or Negroids) are a race originating in Sub-Saharan Africa, but with descendants in various parts of the world, particularly in the Americas. The Sahara Desert is a partial barrier against genetic exchange, which has contributed to the races on either side genetically differentiating from one another.


Sub-Saharan Africans have traditionally been named by reference to their dark skin color. Examples include the word "blacks" and in some countries the word Colored. Words like Negro, Negroid, and Nigger are derived from the Latin Nigrum meaning "black". This can be seen as scientifically problematic, since it implies that the defining characteristic is the black skin color. This is disproven by, for example, the existence of albinos in Sub-Saharan Africa.

There are also very dark-skinned populations in southern India and in Australia that are darker than some populations in Sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, large racial groups are today usually named after their geographic origin, such as Europeans, East Asians, Amerindians, and so on. The geographic origin is a characteristic shared by all members of a race, unlike skin color.

Groups of Sub-Saharan Africans

Satellite imagery of Africa. The Sahara Desert in the north can be clearly distinguished.
Fertility rates in different countries.
Past and predicted future population numbers 1950-2100 based on the United Nation’s "World Population Prospects: 2015 Revision". See also the article on White demographics.
Modern woman (moderne Frau) in the colony of German East Africa (Deutsch-Ostafrika)

A 2009 genetic study found support for extensive migrations and mixing within Sub-Saharan Africa. One example is the extensive Bantu expansion from near the Nigerian/Cameroon highlands to across eastern and southern Africa within the past 5000 to 3000 years.[1]

A diagram of a principal components analysis of global and African genetic data according to the 2009 study can be found here:[2] It also shows that there are several groups who differ considerably genetically from the other Sub-Saharan Africans and the study stated that these groups may be remnants of a historically more widespread population of hunter-gatherers:

  • The Khoisan in southwest Africa (sometimes considered a separate major race ("Capoids"), different from other Sub-Saharan Africans ("Congoids")).
  • The Pygmies in central Africa.
  • The Hadza in eastern Africa.

A less politically correct view on this is that the Bantu expansion can be seen as having "colonized" much of the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa and as having largely displaced and possibly committed "genocides" against the "native", "indigenous", or "aboriginal" populations.

The diagram also illustrates that Eastern Sub-Saharan Africans are somewhat closer genetically to non-Sub-Saharan Africans, which likely reflects somewhat easier genetic exchange in this region.

Current Sub-Saharan Africans and early human ancestors

A common misconception is that all other races evolved from the now living Sub-Saharan Africans. However, even accepting the "Out of Africa theory" as completely correct, the ancient ancestors who lived in Africa (and from which all the now living races evolved according to this theory) likely differed to some degree from all currently living races, including current Africans.

Palaeo-anthropological findings have also suggested "that the ancestors of early humans did not die out quickly in Africa, but instead lived alongside their descendants and bred with them until comparatively recently."[3]

Physical characteristics

Richard Lynn states that "The most distinctive features of Africans are their very dark skin, dark eyes, broad nose, thick everted lips, and woolly hair."[4] Note that the Khoisan (Capoids) have somewhat different characteristics.


Main article: Race and intelligence

There have been occasional remarkable Sub-Saharan Africans figures such as Marcus Garvey, however, the popular public figures tend to be showmen, athletes, and musicians. Reasons for the lack of a historical high culture created by Sub-Saharan Africans is a cause of heated debate, some argue it is a hard-wired biological issue, others have attempted to find scape-goats such as colonialism (despite any extensive European territorial control in Africa being very brief (under a hundred years) and generally built up Africa, rather than destroyed) or slavery (despite this historically being very common in all parts of the world, including Europe and East Asia, which are now highly developed).

Richard Lynn stated in the book Race Differences in Intelligence (2006) that

"The ready availability of plant foods, insects, and eggs throughout the year meant that the evolving African peoples in tropical and sub-tropical Africa did not have to hunt animals to obtain meat... ....Hence the Africans had no need to develop the intelligence, skills, tools, and weapons needed for hunting large mammals. Furthermore, the temperature of equatorial Africa varies annually between approximately 32°C. in the hottest month and 17°C. in the coldest, so the African peoples did not encounter the cognitively demanding requirements of having to make needles and thread for making clothes and tents, to make fires and keep them alight, or to prepare and store food for future consumption.
It was relatively easy to keep babies, infants, and young children alive because there was no need to provide them with clothing and from quite a young age they were capable of going out and foraging for food by themselves... ....The level of intelligence that evolved in the Africans was sufficient for them to make a little progress in the transition from hunter-gathering to settled agriculture, but not sufficient to develop anything that could be called a civilization with a written language and arithmetic, construction of a calendar, cities with substantial stone buildings, and other criteria set out by Baker (1974)."[4]

U.S. military rejects majority of blacks on intelligence grounds

In the 1960s, the USA still had the military draft. When a young man went before the draft-board, he was given a medical exam and an intelligence test. The lowest scorers would not be allowed in the military. In 1962, 56% of blacks in the USA -- rising to nearly two-thirds of Southern blacks -- were not eligible for military service because they failed the intelligence test.

Mental Test Failures of Draft Inductees, 1962[5]
Whites Negroes
USA, overall 15.4% 56.1%
Northeast 26.4% 50.1%
East-Central 12.1% 44.5%
Southeast 19.1% 67.7%
South-Central 13.5% 62.3%
North-Central 8.9% 46.9%
West 12.1% 31.1%


Professor Emeritus Tatu Vanhanen caused controversy when he stated that "Whereas the average IQ of Finns is 97, in Africa it is between 60 and 70. Differences in intelligence are the most significant factor in explaining poverty."[6] Nobel Prize winning biologist James Watson sparked uproar when he said that he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours - whereas all the testing says not really."[7]

Blacks or blacks (capitalization demands)


The race defining terms "blacks" or "whites" are correctly written without capital letters, although the capitalization of "black" as a homage to "blackness" has been debated in the 21st century and pushed by left-wing organizations.[8][9] Those who argue against the trend are naturally acused of "anti-blackness/anti-Blackness". Not grammar, but the "preference of black people" should be decisive, as BLM claims. The typographical rule by most academic institutions still set precedence to lowercase ‘b’ (as of 2022). Parts of the leftist mass media have changed their politics and capitalize "Blacks", but not so whites,[10] which has been criticized as blatantly racist. British black Professor Kwame Akroma-Ampim Kusi Anthony Appiah[11] writes in "The Atlantic" in 2020:

Everyone knows that black people aren’t literally black. Plenty of white Americans are darker in complexion—look at your olive-skinned friends of Mediterranean or Armenian extraction—than plenty of black Americans. If Kim Kardashian, the media personality and entrepreneur, counts as white while Maulana Karenga, the radical activist and creator of Kwanzaa, counts as black, it isn’t because he’s darker than she is. So the color term is a poor metonym for the group in question. [...] Lori L. Tharps, who teaches journalism at Temple University, wrote in 2015. “When a copyeditor deletes the capital ‘B,’ they are in effect deleting the history and contributions of my people.” Or as Anne Price, the president of the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, put it last year: “capitalizing Black is about claiming power.” When W. E. B. Du Bois campaigned, back in the 1920s, for Negro, rather than negro, he remarked, mordantly: “Eight million Americans are entitled to a capital letter.” According to the diversity committee of USA Today, which decided last week to capitalize the B-word, the change reflected “understanding and respect.” [A good reason to capitalize the racial designation “black,” then, is precisely that black, in this sense, is not a natural category but a social one—a collective identity—with a particular history. (“Race is psychology, not biology” is a formulation Du Bois once offered.) What’s more, the very label “black” plays a role in generating that identity. That’s how social identities work. The specific labels can shift over time (Negro, colored, Afro-American), but they help to bring into existence the group to which they refer. A pack of gray wolves exists regardless of our naming practices; they don’t need to know that they’re “gray wolves.” But to be black involves (among other things) identifying as black or being identified as black—usually both. Identity labels come with norms, and so a black person sometimes does things as a black person, is sometimes treated as a black person. [...] Conventions of capitalization can help signal that races aren’t natural categories, to be discovered in the world, but products of social forces. Giving black a big B could signal that it’s not a generic term for some feature of humanity but a name for a particular human-made entity. To paraphrase Simone de Beauvoir, one is not born, but rather becomes, black—and the same goes for all of our social identities. So what about white folks? The style guide of the American Psychological Association declares, as it has for a generation: “Racial and ethnic groups are designated by proper nouns and are capitalized. Therefore, use ‘Black’ and ‘White’ instead of ‘black’ and ‘white.’” That seems sensible enough. But for some people, White is the sticking point. As The American Heritage Dictionary (on whose usage panel, now disbanded, I have served) ventured, in its fourth edition: “In all likelihood, uncertainty as to the mode of styling of white has dissuaded many publications from adopting the capitalized form Black.” If you consider the capital letter to be a conferral of dignity, you may balk at the symmetry. “We strongly believe that leaving white in lowercase represents a righting of a long-standing wrong and a demand for dignity and racial equity,” Price, of the Insight Center, wrote. Until the wrongs against black people have been righted, she continued, “we cannot embrace equal treatment in our language.” The capital letter, in her view, amounts to cultural capital—a benefit that white people should be awarded only after white supremacy has been rolled back. Luke Visconti, the chairman of the nonprofit DiversityInc and the author of an online column titled “Ask the White Guy,” has offered another perspective: In his opinion, capitalizing black but not white makes sense, because, while black people describe themselves as black, “people in the white majority don’t think of themselves in that way. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this—it’s just how it is.” [...] Here, I fear, we start to run into trouble. [...] Once we do have the notion of black people as an identity group, we can freely talk about cultural practices and experiences common among its members. But we can’t start with the culture and experiences and derive the identity. [...] When we ignore the dialectical relation between the labels “black” and “white,” we treat a bloodstained product of history as a neutral, objective fact about the world. We naturalize the workings of racism. More than a few institutions have been mindful of this peril. This spring, the Center for the Study of Social Policy, in a statement by two nonwhite staff members, announced that it would follow the American Psychological Association’s style rules, and helpfully elaborated its reasoning: To not name ‘White’ as a race is, in fact, an anti-Black act which frames Whiteness as both neutral and the standard … We believe that it is important to call attention to White as a race as a way to understand and give voice to how Whiteness functions in our social and political institutions and our communities. Moreover, the detachment of ‘White’ as a proper noun allows White people to sit out of conversations about race [...].[12]

See also


  1. Sarah A. Tishkoff et al. The Genetic Structure and History of Africans and African Americans. Science 324, 1035 (2009). DOI: 10.1126/science.1172257
  2. External Link
  4. 4.0 4.1 Richard Lynn. Race Differences in Intelligence. 2006. Washington Summit Publishers.
  5. Reproduced in "Sex Versus Civilization" (1967), by Dr. Elmer Pendell, p.72 -- Based on a report from the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Policy Planning
  6. Comments in interview could bring charges of inciting racism against PM Vanhanen's father". Helsingin Sanomat. August 12, 2004.
  8. A Debate Over Identity and Race Asks, Are African-Americans ‘Black’ or ‘black’?
  9. The Case for Black With a Capital B
  10. Why we capitalize ‘Black’ (and not ‘white’)
  11. Kwame Anthony Appiah is a professor of philosophy and law at New York University and the author of The Lies that Bind: Rethinking Identity.
  12. The Case for Capitalizing the B in Black – black and white are both historically created racial identities—and whatever rule applies to one should apply to the other