According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Iowa, racial stereotypes affect black boys as young as five years old.
Sadly, white participants in the study were more likely to view a toy as a weapon if it was associated with little black boys. Those who participated in the study were less likely to view a toy as a weapon if it were associated with a white boy.
Seeing the face of a black boy was enough for the white students in the study to misidentify the toy as a weapon.
Lead researcher, Dr. Andrew Todd, said this study shows how people who don’t view themselves as racist can still react with unconscious bias.
“Our findings suggest that, although young children are typically viewed as harmless and innocent, seeing faces of five-year-old Black boys appears to trigger thoughts of guns and violence,” Dr Todd said.
“One of the most pernicious stereotypes of Black Americans, particularly black men, is that they are hostile and violent,” he explained.
“So pervasive are these threat-related associations that they can shape even low-level aspects of social cognition.”
The white college students were shown images of black five-year-olds and white five-year-olds. Then they were shown a second image which they were told to identify as quickly as possible. Participants recognized guns quicker after seeing images of black boys. They were also quicker to mistake toys for guns after viewing images of black boys.
“In this case, it was the alarming rate at which young African Americans – particularly young black males – are shot and killed by police in the US,” Dr. Todd concluded.
“Although such incidents have multiple causes, one potential contributor is that young black males are stereotypically associated with violence and criminality.”
This was not really a study in which they were hoping to unearth some kind of revolutionary evidence, or provide a ground breaking conclusion. The findings are nothing more than a confirmation of what those of us who are Black men in America already know. The pervasive perception of who and what we is overwhelmingly negative.