5 Studies Debunking the Myth of Racial Colorblindness

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Empathy is Based on Race

White People Have Little to None Empathic Reaction While Observing People of Color

A 2010 study conducted by researchers from the University of Toronto at Scarborough revealed that when white people observe non-whites engaged in an activity, their “mirror neuron system” is far less active than when watching whites engaging in the same activity. The results of this study suggest that a white person can believe he is not racist, but he is neurologically wired to adopt racist attitudes because part of his brain cannot empathize with non-whites as it can for other white people.

When an individual observes someone perform an everyday task, a part of the brain called the motor cortex region fires similarly to when that individual is performing the same task.

Researchers found that study participants’ motor cortices were significantly less likely to fire when they watched men of color perform a simple task; in some instances, their brain activity was so low that it was comparable to looking at a blank screen.

Jennifer Gutsell, a doctorate student heading the study states: “Previous research shows people are less likely to feel connected to people outside their own ethnic groups, and we wanted to know why. What we found is that there is a basic difference in the way people’s brains react to those from other ethnic backgrounds. Observing someone of a different race produced significantly less motor-cortex activity than observing a person of one’s own race. In other words, people were less likely to mentally simulate the actions of other-race than same-race people.”

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