I thought this was a very interesting study that I read about on Slate:
Let’s do a quick experiment. You watch a needle pierce someone’s skin. Do you feel this person’s pain? Does it matter if the person’s skin is white or black?
For many people, race does matter, even if they don’t know it. They feel more empathy when they see white skin pierced than black. This is known as the racial empathy gap. To study it, researchers at the University of Milano-Bicocca showed participants (all of whom were white) video clips of a needle or an eraser touching someone’s skin. They measured participants’ reactions through skin conductance tests—basically whether their hands got sweaty—which reflect activity in the pain matrix of the brain. If we see someone in pain, it triggers the same network in our brains that’s activated when we are hurt. But people do not respond to the pain of others equally. In this experiment, when viewers saw white people receiving a painful stimulus, they responded more dramatically than they did for black people.
The racial empathy gap helps explain disparities in everything from pain management to the criminal justice system. But the problem isn’t just that people disregard the pain of black people. It’s somehow even worse. The problem is that the pain isn’t even felt.
A recent study shows that people, including medical personnel, assume black people feel less pain than white people. The researchers asked participants to rate how much pain they would feel in 18 common scenarios. The participants rated experiences such as stubbing a toe or getting shampoo in their eyes on a four-point scale (where 1 is “not painful” and 4 is “extremely painful”). Then they rated how another person (a randomly assigned photo of an experimental “target”) would feel in the same situations. Sometimes the target was white, sometimes black. In each experiment, the researchers found that white participants, black participants, and nurses and nursing students assumed that blacks felt less pain than whites.
The above picture is worth a thousand words indeed.
That is all many of us wanted to see, the man brought to trial. Whether he is convicted or whether it is determined he shot Trayvon Martin in justifiable self-defense, which I doubt to be honest, at least he has to go through the judicial system. Martin’s death at least deserves that.
It is a shame that it took a special prosecutor and all the protests to get this to happen. That has been the worst part of all this to me. The idea that a man could shoot the kid and not have to answer for it in a proper way. Life, anyone’s life, is worth a full looking into.
So glad to see that looks like it will happen in this case. Finally.
No matter what people want to believe, it is still clear though, that justice is not blind.