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Sat Sep 27, 2014, 03:47 PM

Brain Research: White People Lack Empathy for Brown People [View all]

There have been a lot of studies revealing unconscious and latent racism in whites but not so many studies about what might be happening physically in the brains of people expressing such unconscious attitudes. It's important for us to understand more about this because these people also typically express anti-racist sentiments and there's no reason to think that they are lying. How can a person say they support equality and sincerely believe that they support equality but then exhibit racism?

The answer may lie in mirror neurons. A new study from the University of Toronto at Scarborough indicates that when white people watch non-whites performing simple tasks, their "mirror neuron system" is far less active than when watching whites performing the same task. If this is indeed true, then it suggests that a person can simultaneously have strong anti-racist beliefs but then be easily susceptible to racist attitudes because their brains simply fail to react to non-whites with the same degree of empathy as with whites.

snipped a bunch to get to these...

I think it's important to regularly point out that racism isn't just to harbour hate, resentment, or something equally negative against another race. It's also the absence of empathy, compassion, or something positive towards another race that one would have toward their own race. So many times, I hear/read white people prefacing racist statements with, 'I'm not racist, I don't hate ______ people...' and then they say something that lacks empathy with brown people, minimalizes the experiences of brown people, or justifies a system that oppresses brown people.

It's the latter thing, this lack of empathy, that upholds institutional racism. It's linked to the complacency that accepts the status quo and resists change with the attitude that if something's not broken, it doesn't need fixing. Lack of empathy prevents white people from seeing how broken a system is for brown people.

Racism isn't just about hating another race, it's also about failing to regard that races as fully equal human beings who deserve full political and social equality. Homophobia isn't just about hating gays, it's about failing to regard gays as fully equal. Anti-atheist bigotry isn't just about hating atheists, it's about failing to regard atheists as fully equal.


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Reply Brain Research: White People Lack Empathy for Brown People [View all]
noiretextatique Sep 2014 OP
bravenak Sep 2014 #1
noiretextatique Sep 2014 #4
GeorgeGist Sep 2014 #2
noiretextatique Sep 2014 #3
JustAnotherGen Sep 2014 #5