A recent study by the University of Milano-Bicocca revealed some interesting findings. White and black people have less empathy for black peoples’ pain. Do you know why? Because we think (and so does everyone else) to be black means to always struggle. And when we don’t, not only is that unusual, it’s downright offensive to folks.
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.
But the researchers did not believe racial prejudice was entirely to blame. After all, black participants also displayed an empathy gap toward other blacks. What could possibly be the explanation for why black people’s pain is underestimated?
It turns out assumptions about what it means to be black—in terms of social status and hardship—may be behind the bias. In additional experiments, the researchers studied participants’ assumptions about adversity and privilege. The more privilege assumed of the target, the more pain the participants perceived. Conversely, the more hardship assumed, the less pain perceived. The researchers concluded that “the present work finds that people assume that, relative to whites, blacks feel less pain because they have faced more hardship.”
This gives us some insight into how racial disparities are created—and how they are sustained. First, there is an underlying belief that there is a single black experience of the world. Because this belief assumes blacks are already hardened by racism, people believe black people are less sensitive to pain. Because they are believed to be less sensitive to pain, black people are forced to endure more pain. [SOURCE]
Has a light come on yet? The next time another black person expresses contempt because you want to have a happy, stress-free life, married with family, and maybe be a stay-at-home mom (oh GAWD the horror!!) remember the above citation. Apparently if you’re not struggling, you’re not black…enough.
This reminds me of a recent spat I had with a women who insisted that I thought I was superior to her because I married a white man. “You think you’re better, like you won some golden ticket,” she said. But what she didn’t realize is that her comment betrayed her reality. I mean, is “winning the golden ticket” (ticket…to, or out, of what?) code for ditching the eternal black-woman struggle and opting for the easier route? Did I betray my sorority because I didn’t want to have a life full of stress and drama?
I’m hear to tell you, I will never, EVER apologize for “escaping with the golden ticket.” But not because I married a white man, but because I married a GOOD man. Does it mean my life is perfect, and nothing bad has ever happened? Don’t be a moron. Of course it has. But I am well aware of how much worse I could have it, and how much worse others think I should have it.
Don’t ever apologize, chicas. Not. Ever.