How The Media is Changing Our Brains, Literally
Apr 27, 2015
A few days ago a video started making the rounds on the Facebook Feed circuit that showed a young black man recounting his “pleasant experience” after being pulled over by a white cop. The editorialized and over-simplified comments along with the videos repost resonated sentiments along the lines of “This kid is well spoken, and polite,” or “This is how you handle police.” What’s the saying? The road to hell is paved with well-meaning, albeit implicitly racist, facebook posts. Something like that.
I get it, we all want to believe that not all officers are bad. That not every time our black men are pulled over by police for minor traffic violation that they will be shot dead. But, we can’t ignore the implicit biases running rampant because it’s easier to champion a video of a young black man and his pleasant experience, than to unwrap the complicated, ugly and devastating truth behind how we see our young black men.
An article published in PS MAG by Lisa Wabe yesterday, pulls together findings from two recent studies that show when people of color are arrested, they are more likely to be portrayed as more threatening than white people. Wade surmises that disproportionate reporting is affecting how our brains see people of color in real life. She goes on, “Each time we see a black person on TV who is linked with a violent crime or portrayed as a criminal, the neurons in our brain that link blackness with criminality fire. The same for people of other races. The more often a link is triggered, the stronger it becomes. Disproportionate reporting like the kind captured in this study make the neural links in our brain—it’s actual physical structure—reflect the racism inherent in the reporting itself.”
Something to think about before we share or like or repost a video showing a young black man and a white cop arm and arm in a symbol of our delusional post-racial America.