Things That Matter

Using MRIs And Science, Researchers Proved That White People Tend To Be More Racist

It’s something we’ve long suspected and finally confirmed. A new study revealed what many people of color probably already know – that white people are more likely to not be able to differentiate people outside their race. For the study, scientists used MRI tests to understand how nonpeople of color register Black faces. The scientists examined the MRI brain results of 20 people around 20 years old while they looked at images of faces of black people and white people that gradually changed from looking identical to different. 

What they discovered was that the face recognition part of the brain showed increased activity even when presented with the smallest change in the white faces proving they noted a difference.

Meanwhile, the changes in the black faces elicited a slower response indicating they were more likely to view them as similar despite the same changes that were used on the white faces. 

Essentially, the study found that all of the images of black faces appeared the same to the white participants, despite the fact that they were different. 

“Here, we show that race biases extend as far down as our sensory processes, such that what our senses pick up isn’t necessarily a perfectly accurate representation of the world around us,” Brent Hughes, from the University of California, Riverside said, as reported by Cosmos Magazine. 

These tendencies can have serious real-world consequences in situations like identifying someone in a police lineup or describing an attacker to the police. “If we quite literally ‘see’ other race individuals as more similar to each other, this may serve as an early mechanism of stereotyping,” Hughes added. 

The research journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), recently published “Neural Adaptation to Faces Reveals Racial Outgroup Homogeneity Effects in Early Perception,” by scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University and the University of California, Riverside.

During the study, scientists investigated “the tendency to view members of social outgroups as interchangeable.”

“What it tells us is that our tendency to see members of our own [racial] group as individuals and de-individuate members of other racial groups, that is something that happens on sight,” Nick Camp, a co-author from Stanford, told The Guardian.

There were additional experiments that didn’t include technology including one where participants had to rate how different they thought a series of faces for a certain race actually were, whether a pair of faces were different, and if they had seen a certain face before. 

What they found was that the participants believed all the black faces looked like each other or they had seen them before, more so than the white faces even though both races had been created to be equally similar. 

 It’s important to note the limitations of the study since it was a small test group since there were only 20 participants who were all white and were only shown black and white faces.

They also didn’t take into account how diverse the social groups of the participants which could potentially influence their views. 

The idea that people of a certain racial or ethnic group all look the same is not new, though this study provides scientific backing for long-standing assumptions. The cross-race effect, as it is known, is when an individual is more likely to recognize faces of a race they’re most familiar with, presumably their own. 

In a 2001 study, 231 witnesses participated in cross-race versus same-race photographic line-ups identifications, in the former, 45 percent were identified correctly versus 60 percent in the latter.

“The problem is not that we can’t code the details of cross-race faces–it’s that we don’t,” Daniel Levin, a cognitive psychologist at Kent State University explained to the American Psychological Association Forbes reported. 

In cross-race effects studies, there are two types of facial recognition processes: featural, literally a person’s features, and holistic, which extends beyond what a person’s face looks like.

This study seems to show that the white participants used holistic processes due to familiarity when looking at white faces and featural with the black faces. 

 In the PNAS study, they state that the results also suggest that biases for the faces of other races likely begin during the earliest stages of sensory processing, which can have an influence on “intergroup perceptions.” 

 “Individuals should not be let off the hook for their prejudicial attitudes just because we see evidence of biases in visual perception,” Hughes added. “To the contrary, these race biases in perception are malleable and subject to individual motivations and goals, and as such are subject to change.”

 To put it plainly, saying “I don’t see race” can now be scientifically debunked but it also can’t be used as an excuse for prejudice.

The ultimate takeaway? Get your babies around people who don’t look like everyone in their family folks, and you’ll build a better world.

A Black Transgender Woman Was Killed On The Last Day Of Pride

Things That Matter

A Black Transgender Woman Was Killed On The Last Day Of Pride

@astoldbymelly/ Twitter

We’re now almost halfway through 2020 and the statistics tallying the number of murders that have occurred this year in the trans community are alarming. Sadly when it came to the sacred month of Pride the trans community did not receive a break in these numbers, unfortunately.

A community in Dallas, Texas is currently coming to terms with the death of 22-year-old Merci Mack a Black transg woman whose body was discovered in Dallas on the final day of Pride.

Mack, whose body was discovered in a parking lot, is at least the 18th trans person to be killed in 2020.

According to reports, Mack’s body was discovered at 6:15 a.m and had sustained gunshot wounds. She was found in a parking lot of the Rosemont Apartments located in South Dallas. After her body was discovered, residents at the apartment claimed to police that they heard shots fired an hour beforehand. According to the Dallas Police Department, they never received a 911 about the incident. By the time an emergency response team came to the scene, Mack was dead.

Despite being an openly trans woman, reports by law enforcement and the local media deadnamed her.

The lack of support in using the deadnames of trans people has earned the ire of The Associated Press Stylebook  GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). AP urges reporters to use “use the name by which a transgender person now lives” and HRC has published trans reporting guidelines for police and members of the media. In a statement to BuzzFeed News, a spokesperson for the department has said that their “hearts go out to the grieving family who are trying to cope with the loss of their love one… Our detectives, as with all murders, are working diligently to find the perpetrator to this horrible crime.”

In response to Mack’s tragic death, LGBTQ+ groups have released statements honoring her life and legacy.

“Another Black transgender woman has had her life stolen from her,” Tori Cooper, a director of community engagement for HRC’s Transgender Justice Initiative stated an interview. “We cannot become numb to the fact that our community has learned of more killings of transgender and gender non-conforming people in the past few weeks than HRC has ever tracked in the past seven years.”

Mack is at least the 11th trans person to die since 2017 in Texas because of violence. Almost all of them have been Black women. Most recently, in May of this year, Helle Jae O’Regan was stabbed to death while at a barbershop in San Antonio.

A Group Of Women Who Sued Harvey Weinstein For Misconduct Have Reached A Nearly $19 Million Settlement

Entertainment

A Group Of Women Who Sued Harvey Weinstein For Misconduct Have Reached A Nearly $19 Million Settlement

Spencer Platt / Getty

Disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein might be in prison but his legal woes continue.

The former film producer and convicted sex offender who founded the entertainment company Miramax and was toppled by allegations of sexual assault amid the early days of the #MeToo movement is still paying big time for his depraved acts of sexual assault and harassment. This week, Weinstein was successfully sued for sexual misconduct by a group of women and reached a nearly $19 million tentative settlement.

Late Tuesday evening, New York Attorney General Leticia James announced that the settlement, which is part of a class-action lawsuit against, meant the women would also be released from confidentiality and NDA agreements.

Speaking about the suit which was filed two years ago, Caitlin Dulaney one of the plaintiffs involved described the lead up to the decision as a “long and grueling battle.”

“Harvey avoided accountability for decades, and it was a powerful moment for us to band together and demand justice,” she said in a statement. “Knowing that we will help so many women who are long overdue for relief gives me hope that this settlement will continue to empower others to speak.”

If the lawsuit is approved by bankruptcy and US district courts, the settlement will give Weinstein victims between $7,500 and $750,000 each.

The suit also accuses Harvey Weinstein’s brother Robert Weinstein who co-founded the entertainment company Miramax with him as well as and other administrators of the Weinstein company of failing to prevent predatory sexual misconduct.

According to reports, the suit says Weinstein “created a hostile work environment by repeatedly and persistently sexually harassing female employees, including frequently remarking on female employees’ physical appearances, berating female employees, and requiring female employees to perform work while he was naked or only partially dressed.”

The suit also says Weinstein made employees help him with his erectile dysfunction injection. On top of this, women employees were also often forced to engage in sex to continue working for him or advance their careers. Some were even made to clean up for him after he had sex.

In 2017, The New York Times reported the first allegations of misconduct against Weinstein which ultimately helped spark the #MeToo movement. As a result, dozens upon dozens of women came forward to accuse Weinstein of rape and harassment.

The announcement comes three months after Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison for raping Jessica Mann.

He was also charged with engaging in a criminal sexual act against Mimi Haley. Currently, he is being held in prison at the Wende Correctional Facility in Buffalo, New York.

Still, not everyone involved thinks the settlement is enough. Attorneys for six other women who have sued Weinstein for misconduct have called it a “complete sellout.” They also underlined that the settlement does not hold Weinstein accountable.

Speaking about the decision, Douglas Wigdor and Kevin Mintzer, two lawyers in a case against Weinstein said in a statement that they “are surprised that the Attorney General could somehow boast about a proposal that fails on so many different levels. While we do not begrudge any survivor who truly wants to participate in this deal, as we understand the proposed agreement, it is deeply unfair for many reasons. We are completely astounded that the Attorney General is taking a victory lap for this unfair and inequitable proposal, and on behalf of our clients, we will be vigorously objecting in court.”