Do You Have Your 'Hood Pass?

A "chitlin' test" for the MTV generation.


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Earlier this month, President Barack Obama aroused some controversy by checking "African American" on his U.S. Census form. He's black, some say. No, he's half-white, declare others.

If blackness is more of a social construct than a biological one, what are its social definitions? Its dating and marriage choices? An identification fostered on Hawaiian basketball courts? An awareness of Ben's Chili Bowl and its signature half-smoke?

In today's multiculti, or as some say post-racial, America, how much do Americans really know about one another? How much do black folks know about other black folks? What does it mean to be black, anyway?

Let's take it to the late 1960s, when some activists maintained that standardized academic achievement tests were culturally biased in a way that adversely challenged many black students. As black history and black studies curricula emerged, their advocates argued that tests should draw on experiences shared across cultures. To demonstrate the cultural bias in IQ and standardized tests, Adrian Dove, a black sociologist developed a "chitling test" in 1971 with questions about black American life. 

The sample exam garnered much national attention. There were declarations from blacks and whites that the questions were a poor analogue for standardized ahievement tests. The original test is rather dated, and a 21st-century attempt to administer it fell flat and stirred controversy.

With pop artists saying they have n***a passes--ahem, John Mayer--and politicians saying they're blacker than our president--ahem, Rod Blagojevich, perhaps The Root should put in our two cents. (Well, two more cents. We already picked out the blackest white folks we know.)

So for kicks and giggles, check your cred with The Root's chitlin' test for 2010.

1)   A "taper" is:

(a) a cut of jeans

(b) a style of haircut

(c) a hot body

(d) a vendor who sells mixtapes