Ten thousand hours is, of course, an enormous amount of time. It's all but impossible to reach that number, by the time you're a young adult, all by yourself. You have to have parents who are encouraging and supportive. You can't be poor, because if you have to hold down a part-time job on the side to help make ends meet, there won't be enough time left over in the day. In fact, most people can really only reach that number if they get into some kind of special programme - like a hockey all-star squad - or get some kind of extraordinary opportunity that gives them a chance to put in that kind of work.
So then it would be clear that the long term subjugation of the African in America had a direct impact in our ability to put members of our own into this top class. Oh sure we can do that now but that's not the point. Further:
Recently Forbes Magazine compiled a list of the 75 richest people in history. It includes queens and kings and pharaohs from centuries past, as well as contemporary billionaires such as Warren Buffet and Carlos Slim. However, an astonishing 14 on the list are Americans born within nine years of each other in the mid-19th century. In other words, almost 20% of the names come from a single generation - born between 1831 and 1840 in a single country. The list includes industrialists and financiers who are still household names today: John Rockefeller, born in 1839 (the richest of the lot); Andrew Carnegie, 1835; Jay Gould, 1836; and JP Morgan, 1837.
What's going on here is obvious, if you think about it. In the 1860s and 1870s, the American economy went through perhaps the greatest transformation in its history. This was when the railways were built, and when Wall Street emerged. It was when industrial manufacturing started in earnest. It was when all the rules by which the traditional economy functioned were broken and remade. What that list says is that it was absolutely critical, if you were going to take advantage of those opportunities, to be in your 20s when that transformation was happening.
If you were born in the late 1840s, you missed it - you were too young to take advantage of that moment. If you were born in the 1820s, you were too old - your mindset was shaped by the old, pre-civil war ways. But there is a particular, narrow nine-year window that was just perfect. All of the 14 men and women on that list had vision and talent. But they also were given an extraordinary opportunity, in the same way that hockey players born in January, February and March were given an extraordinary opportunity.
If we follow this fellow's logic we would see that the African in America between the years 1831 and 1839 were for the large part chattel slaves. And so according to the author were effectively locked out of this group. Furthermore by the time 1860-1870 came around, we see that the African had just been given legal "emancipation" but still generally lacked the free time that the author shows was necessary to achieve mastery.
If January 1975 was the dawn of the personal computer age, then who would be in the best position to take advantage of it? If you're a few years out of college in 1975, and if you have had any experience with programming at all, you would have already been hired by IBM or one of the other traditional, old-line computer firms of that era. You belonged to the old paradigm. You have just bought a house. You're married. A baby is on the way. You're in no position to give up a good job and pension for some pie-in-the-sky $397 computer kit. So let's also rule out all those born before, say, 1952.
At the same time, though, you don't want to be too young. You can't seize the moment if you're still in high school. So let's also rule out anyone born after, say, 1958. The perfect age to be in 1975, in other words, is young enough to see the coming revolution but not so old as to have missed it. You want to be 20 or 21, born in 1954 or 1955.
1955. If you were black you were effectively shut out of any of these areas. 1975. a mere 6 years out from the legal destruction of segregation and just into the age of Affirmative Action. Black people, by and large still found themselves outside the mainstream.
If anything, this article shows how much damage white supremacy in America was to the African.