As an African-American man in America I am keenly aware that there are certain things that can be hazardous to my health.
Simple things like walking down the street while wearing a hoodie, or driving while black could spell demise. But recently there has been another addition to the list of concerns things that seem routine to the rest of the world. Crossing the street.
A recent study finds that drivers show a clear racial bias against black pedestrians, failing to yield for them at crosswalks. Seems like a minor racial microagression? Well, the researchers suggest that this treatment of black pedestrians might lead to fatalities.
Conducted in downtown Portland, the joint Portland State University and University of Arizona study found that twice as many drivers failed to yield for black pedestrians than those who were white. Meanwhile, black pedestrians typically had to wait a third longer for cars to stop for them when they had the legal right of way.
With fewer motorists yielding for them, minorities are more likely to take greater risks to cross the street, which might factor into why they’re disproportionately represented in U.S. pedestrian fatalities, the study concluded.
“In a fast-paced activity like driving, where decisions may need to be made in a fraction of a second, people’s’ actions can be influenced by these subtle attitudes,” the study said.
Nationally, African-Americans have a 60 percent higher rate of pedestrian deaths than whites, the Smart Growth America study shows. Meanwhile, it's 43 percent higher for Hispanics.
For their study on racial bias at crosswalks, PSU researchers Kimberly Barsamian Kahn and Tara Goddard and Arlie Adkins, of the University of Arizona, chose an unsignalized but clearly marked crosswalk near Southwest Park Avenue and Clay Street.
It's one of downtown's most used midblock crossings, where yielding isn't influenced by cross traffic or turning. Those who are black and dared to do something as simple and mundane as cross this busy intersection in Manhattan, were practically ignored, and were forced to make there task a dangerous game. Something like dodge ball with balls that happen to be tons of steel flying down the street at upwards of 50 miles per hour.