Black men seem bigger than white men

Henrietta Strickland
March 19, 2017

The new research, published by the American Psychological Association Monday, March 13, also revealed that participants felt police were more justified in wielding force against Black people rather than white ones. Based on just the faces, they estimated that the black men were slightly taller (an average of 72 inches vs. 71 inches tall) and a bit heavier, at an average of 181 pounds for black men but 177 pounds for white men.

The officer claimed Mr. Hamilton, who was shot 14 times, had a "muscular build" and "most definitely would have overpowered me or pretty much any officer I can think of, to tell you the truth".

Even though all the men featured in the study shared physical traits, the black individuals were haunted by stigma, the majority of responders seeing them as more threatening and capable of more force than the white males.

He and his colleagues conducted a series of experiments involving more than 950 USA participants in which people were shown a series of color photographs of white and black male faces of individuals who were all of equal height and weight. In another experiment, participants were shown the exact same, racially ambiguous body.

However, the black study participants perception of size did not lead to them thinking of the black athletes as risky. The book and the subsequent 1975 film re-popularized the idea of the potency and inherent danger of black masculinity that had been kicked around since the days of auction blocks and Black Bucks when black men were sold as cattle and lynched for sport. It's not surprising black people would be affected as well by this societal bias - psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark demonstrated way back in the 1940s how institutional racism like school segregation could make black children believe themselves inferior to white kids.

According to the study, young Black men are perceived to be stronger and more unsafe compared to young white men.

So what drives this racist difference in perception?

Researchers noted that in the wake of today's tension between police and people of color, the physical size of those killed becomes pushed to the forefront.

The researchers said that they found the estimates of the participants to be consistently biased.

Men, particularly black men, were initially perceived "angry, ' even when their faces were not objectively angry and women were initially perceived as 'happy" even when their faces were not objectively happy. But it does suggest that, once that threat is established, everyone in that society start to see the world differently, with potentially tragic ramifications. However, nonblack participants perceived black men to be more capable of causing harm in a fictional fight scenario, and, even more disquieting, that police would be more justified in using force to subdue the black men - even if they were unarmed.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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