“A Superhumanization Bias in Whites’ Perceptions of Blacks”

“Studies 1–2b demonstrate this phenomenon at an implicit level, showing that Whites preferentially associate Blacks versus Whites with superhuman versus human words on an implicit association test and on a categorization task. Studies 3–4 demonstrate this phenomenon at an explicit level, showing that Whites preferentially attribute superhuman capacities to Blacks versus Whites, and Study 4 specifically shows that superhumanization of Blacks predicts denial of pain to Black versus White targets. Together, these studies demonstrate a novel and potentially detrimental process through which Whites perceive Blacks.”

This reminds me of the time I was talking about Lupita Nyong’o with a (white) friend, and she said “And she’s so beautiful — I think she’s what human beings are supposed to look like”. And I was suddenly so, so uncomfortable because what does that mean? Can’t she just be regular beautiful, without being like the basis of human beauty in some weird ancestral way?

Next hurdle: You aren’t not racist just because you identify and then magnify and generalize a positive quality of a Black person. Positive stereotypes are still stereotypes, and they aren’t always experienced positively.

And no one is ever going to do that to me about science.

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