A century and a half after the abolition of slavery, 50 years after Jim Crow, the act of driving while black is still dangerous, the act of shopping while black can get people arrested and the act of walking while black can get people killed.
The study, from researchers at Portland State University and the University of Arizona, found that drivers are much more likely to yield to white pedestrians than black pedestrians. Using controlled field experiments in Portland, Oregon, with three black men and three white men, researchers found that black participants were twice as likely as their white counterparts to be passed by two or more cars, and black participants experienced 32 percent longer wait times before drivers yielded.
The results suggest that black people are more likely to be ignored or neglected by drivers, which could lead to a greater risk of getting hit by a car. The researchers note that from 2000 to 2010, the pedestrian fatality rates in the US were 3.93 per 100,000 for black men — more than twice the rate for white men (1.78), even after controlling for increased exposure to cars in urban areas, socioeconomic status, and alcohol use.
Researchers didn’t offer a theory as to why black people are ignored in streets. Is it overt racism? Perhaps with some people it is overt, but nearly everyone knows at least one “not racist” racist. Studies show that from the time black children enter the school system (and probably before that), they are treated differently – often as older and as a threat. It’s not difficult to connect those dots.
This video shows how police officers tend to dehumanize black people.
If you believe that all racists are easy to pick out, that they parade around with confederate flags and pepper their speech with the “n” word, you may be naive. Take this test by Harvard researchers. Nearly everyone has racial bias. The best of us acknowledge it and try to learn and change.
Featured image via Pixabay.