People see black men as larger and stronger, even when they're not, which leads to irrational fear of danger from black men, study says.
Even if white and black men are the same heights and weights, people tend to perceive black men as taller, more muscular and heavier. So said a psychological survey, published Monday in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, exploring stereotypes about perceptions of male bodies.
What’s more, the study found, nonblack participants believed black men to be more capable of physical harm than white men of the same size. The results also indicated that nonblack observers believed that police would be more justified to use force on these black men, even if they were unarmed, than white male counterparts.
“Unarmed black men are disproportionately more likely to be shot and killed by police, and often these killings are accompanied by explanations that cite the physical size of the person shot,” John Paul Wilson, an author of the study and a psychologist at New Jersey’s Montclair State University, said in a statement Monday.
The psychologists noted that, in the wake of police shootings, the physical size of those killed frequently becomes a focal point. Tamir Rice, who was shot and killed on a Cleveland playground in 2014 while holding a replica gun, was described as “menacing” after his death.
Across the United States, the average black man and the average white man are roughly the same height and weight. According to what data are available, such as information taken from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveys, the average white man older than 20 weighs 199 pounds. So does the average black man. Height averages for black and white men are within a centimeter of each other, with the average white man being slightly taller at 5-foot-10.
It’s racism that exists for centuries. The idea that black man are dangerous is forced upon us, and many don’t see any other way than to follow these stereotypes. We need to follow our own unique path and create images of our own, and not look what white men labeled us.