Jul 21, 2015 5:03 PM GMT
Here are some reasons why race matters in this time period and there is still a long way to go. Racial inequality is one of them. Stereotype is another.
NewScientistConcepts about people and groups are stored in the brain’s temporal lobes. Through these networks, the term “black male” calls up concepts of hostility, threat and crime in the minds of many Americans. This stereotype information then feeds into the medial frontal cortex toward the front of the brain, where it is integrated into a first impression of the person. This all happens in a moment. In the case of police officers responding to a call, that moment is when they first hear a description from their dispatcher.
NewScientistLet’s consider the Rice case. Police were dispatched to the park after a 911 caller reported a “guy with a pistol… he’s pointing it at everybody”. The caller also noted, “it’s probably fake” and “he’s probably a juvenile” – details reportedly not conveyed to the officers. And, of course, Rice was black. This was one of the details the dispatcher who took the 911 call sought to establish, insistently. Skin colour is an important identifier, of course, but “black” also suggests a profile. To the dispatcher, race seemed to be critical for constructing the scene: black, male, gun.