Teaser: Is it really true that somehow we are biogenetically hardwired to not feel a sense of care and empathy for those different than us. Am I as an inclusive activist even subject to this threat? How can I be inclusive if I am hard wired to not care about the pain of others?

 

Today’s podcast is on The Racial Empathy Gap.

 

Welcome back to the podcast! The last two weeks have been really fantastic and I am very appreciative of the time I have had to spend some quality time the last few weekends with friend and family

 

So as far as podcast updates go, I had the podcasts first email this past week and it was very cool because I was asked to speak on activism and self care and how to avoid activist burnout sadly I had to turn down the opportunity to speak at the We the People Summitt sponsored by some great forward thinking folk who needed some different thoughts on diversity inclusion and activism.  It really sounded like an amazing opportunity but sadly I am out of town for an Emerging Leaders Retreat. That is the second opportunity I am having to miss to do inclusion work but at least Emerging Leaders is a form of inclusion work as well. But if you have an opportunity to connect with me and create some synergy – Please remember you can email me at inclusiveactivism@cox.net or leave me a voicemail at 860-576-9393. I would love to hear your thoughts!

 

Also remember to rate and review us on iTunes, or Stitcher, or if you could please share the podcast on social media, All these things go a long way to making a significant difference for us here at the inclusive activism podcast. Also please subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play as these are great ways for me to show “proof of work to potential sponsors”. It would also go a long way in getting my producer Sara paid for her work someday too!

 

So checking in on my Activism:

Its been 4 meeting since I have joined the opportunity Valley Leadership Advance – it is for people who do leadership in AZ but are not yet considered pillars in the community – its been ok

I’m scheduled to get ready for my service event with VLA on 11/18 with Habitat for Humanity which should be interesting since I have never done service with that organization

Did service last night with howl-o-ween – it’s a fund-raising event with the Phx Zoo which I know causes some problematics but it overall is a good if imperfect event which does help conservation efforts across the globe and it provides a safe place for Halloween activities too

I’ll be looking doing a lot more service over Nov which will do a lot to help me cultivate gratitude and I really want to make Nov a month of appreciation.

 

Self Care:

Lift X4 times a week which was good but one short of my goal however I am needing to heal a nagging injury

Got 3X Cardio done this week which is very cool

And Meditated for 3X for at least 10-15 mins as well

Won my first flag football playoff game this morning which means a lot to me

Had a friend Luke Black over last week and it had been a while we are very good for each other to keep me active and keep him balanced and as joyful as we can manage!

 

So on to the podcast for today!

 

 

First: What is the racial empathy gap? This notion comes from a well-documented psychological phenomenon behind what I’d overheard. Morten B. sent along an essay by Jason Silverstein in which he reviews the literature on the racial empathy gap. All things being equal, if you show a person an image of a dark- and a light-skinned person being harmed, they will most likely react more strongly to the latter. Studies have found evidence of this using both self-report and measures of brain activity. Notably, both black and white people respond similarly.

 

Trawalter, S., Hoffman, K. M., & Waytz, A. (2012). Racial bias in perceptions of others’ pain. PloS one, 7(11), e48546.

 

This idea of the racial empathy gap is related to the idea that somehow the darker your skin tone is the more you can stand and deal with pain. It seems like there is this sense of they can deal with difficulty and pain much easier maybe due to their difficult lives – I’m not certain. But what makes it notable is this is not about explicit bias or any degree of racial aminosity – it doesn’t event matter if you are a part of that group or not (both white and black people display effects of that racial empathy gap.

 

Instead, it appears to be related to the perception that black people have already had to cope with a great deal of pain—from racism, poverty, poor health, etc—and, as a result, have a greater pain threshold. In other words, they are less sensitive to pain because they’ve been hardened.

Efforts to parse out whether this effect is due to race specifically or perceptions of whether a person has lived a hard life suggest that it might be primarily the latter. But, as Silverstein points out, we tend to homogenize the black population and assume that all black people face adversity. So, whether the phenomenon is caused by race or status gets pretty muddy pretty fast.

So again the idea is there is a differing sense of empathy for white and black people’s pain outside of race – both races experience this phenomena BOTH feel black can endure more pain

 

Second: What are some examples of the repercussions of the racial empathy gap?

The Crack Epidemic Vs. The Heroin Epidemic

If you want to examine how the white working class receives empathy that is never reserved for the Black working class, look no further than the heroin epidemic. Now admittedly, the heroin epidemic is a terrible health crisis that requires bipartisan solutions. But when crack cocaine disproportionately affected Black communities in the 1980s, there was no call for a public health solution. In fact, the crack epidemic was not considered a public health problem at all, instead, it was considered a criminal justice issue. Crack cocaine users in the Black community were not given clean needles or anti-overdose drugs. They were arrested, given records, and mandatory minimums. Politicians did not call for compassion and sympathy for poor Black people caught up in drugs in the 1980s. They called for harsh criminal penalties. Just look at the 100–1 mandatory sentencing ratio between crack cocaine and powdered cocaine. The law was consciously designed to more harshly impact Black people, who were more likely to use crack cocaine versus the powdered version of the drug. Millions of Black people were got records, were locked up, lost their voting rights, and were later unable to reenter the economy or get a job due to harsh state and local laws passed in the 1980s. Those poor Black people who used crack cocaine got no sympathy from the media or from politicians. But we are expected to sympathize with poor white people who use heroin, and even work overtime to help them avoid criminal penalties.

No “Economic Anxiety” Excuse For Black Workers

How many times have you turned on the local news and seen a Black person accused of committing a petty crime, such as stealing from a gas station or not paying a parking ticket? How many times have read a piece in conservative media that called Black people “lazy,” or “freeloaders,” or “welfare queens?” How many times have you seen members of the media or politicians go on some extended riff about Black on Black crime? Now think about how many times you’ve heard “economic anxiety” used as an excuse for Black people for any of these things? Zero right?

Economic anxiety isn’t an excuse that Black people (or any other minorities really) are allowed to have. Black people are supposed to be at the bottom of the social caste system, and we’re supposed to be meek and quiet about it. Even supposed leftists talk almost exclusively about the white working class, spending virtually no time speaking to the Black working class or building relationships with them. When they ask us to talk about “workers,” they are talking specifically about white workers in factories in the northeast and the rust belt. They aren’t talking about Black communities in South Carolina, in North Carolina, or in Georgia.

Despite the median Black family having 13 times less the wealth of the median white family, Black people have not turned to racial demagogues who demonize other races and call for attacking them to solve their economic problems. The Black community has not turned to the politics of hate in order to fix our much more pressing and severe economic anxiety. Why isn’t economic anxiety ever an excuse we get to use? You already know the answer. Instead, “economic anxiety” is reserved as an excuse for significantly wealthier white workers who have espoused support for racist politics. Nobody is talking about how the Black working class has very real economic anxiety. They are either ignored or told that that they deserve it.

https://medium.com/indian-thoughts/the-racial-empathy-gap-no-sympathy-for-the-black-working-class-1f8cea33b4b1

 

The need for Black Lives Matter! The fact that there is a movement called black lives matter shows us that we have some SERIOUS problems with the racial empathy gap.

 

The racial empathy gap creates: Blacks are 13% of the population and 37% of the total population locked up – that is bananas almost 3 times the rate of their own population! Think if white people we imprisoned at just their rate of 73.6% but are imprisoned at a 39% rate.

The racial empathy gap is present with OIS shootings: 73.9% of the population killed at a rate of 49%. Black are 13% shot and killed at a 24% rate.

 

Black people get prescribed pain meds 40% less often than their white counterparts FOR THE SAME PROBLEM.

 

This is a serious systemic societal problem!

 

Lastly: What can I personally do about it, for myself and for my country? Well first off we need to take a moment and really consider how toxic our society must be for something like this not only to exist – but for all people to feel and respond this way.

 

Take a moment to think of what are the narratives that must be repeated again and again. The visuals we choose on a day in and day out basis – What does this say about us as a people?

 

Next what I would recommend considering is giving a bit more slack in your judgement with news stories or headlines which “feature” blackness or frame blacks as deserving of their fortunes due to some crime. As we saw before there is little to no empathy in a societal sense for working class black people – especially compared with the narratives around the “struggle” of working class whites,

 

Also you really need to expose yourself to different people where you are the only one like you. There are some really deep internal implicit biases at work that create this problem and it is only exposure that can start to help to undue these deeply held biases.

 

Another strategy to overcome the racial empathy gap? One answer may be memory. In one experiment from a study examining different emotional states and how they impact the empathy gap, researchers found that participants who completed a memory task while in “pain” (holding their non-dominant hand in ice water) performed worse on the memory task than participants who were not in pain (Nordgren, van der Pligt, and van Harreveld, 2006). In addition, the ‘pain’ participants were more likely to attribute their poor performance to factors other than the fact that they had been in pain while taking the test (Nordgren, van der Pligt, & van Harreveld, 2006). This research suggests not only that people in stressful emotional states have worse memory during that time and therefore might not realize that what they are doing is not in line with their general actions, but also that the memory of the effects that such a stressful emotional state has on your actions fades extremely quickly. In other words, we forget the impact that our emotions had on what we acted and therefore try to attribute our behavior to something else. This explains why we cannot automatically empathize with anyone who is experiencing an emotion we may have experienced before: because our memory for our experience of that emotion and how it affected us may be impaired or erased. It is important to nurture these memories rather than to suppress them, and to try to understand the impact of our emotions rather than dismiss them, so that we can access those memories later and have an easier time making sense of the emotions of others (thereby avoiding some of the aforementioned negative effects of the empathy gap).

 

We need to try and put ourselves in some first hand experiences in order to really understand the difficulties and pains of others experiences.

How is this all relevant? We all have to deal with different emotions and emotional states at different times. We also often have to interact with people of different ages, races, genders and sexual orientations, and divides between different groups that can result in things like racism or sexism are all too common. We will never be able to experience other people’s emotions in the same way and at the same time that they experience them, or understand how it feels to be a member of a group we don’t belong to. But if being more aware of the emotions that they are experiencing could help us understand them, this could help us in our daily interactions with one another. The takeaway is this: next time you’re in an emotional situation and about to react to something, take a second to think whether what you are about to do is really something you would like to see yourself doing. In other words, is this a fair and proportionate response? Similarly, when someone else is struggling with a problem or reacting extremely to something that may be emotional for them, ask yourself if you have ever felt that way in a different context. If you can access your memories rather than suppress them and recognize the emotion a fellow person is feeling, perhaps you can help calm them down or find a better way to process it, whether they share your age, race, gender, or not. At the very least you will be able to understand what is going through their mind and why they might be reacting in a certain way. Making sure we make an active effort to relate to others rather than look at their situation solely from our own perspective could go a long way in reducing the empathy gap.

 

 

So in review major points of this podcast were:

  1. We defined the racial empathy gap
  2. Where are there some examples of this so called racial empathy gap
  3. We need to take time and understand the lives and experiences of other people ALL other people if we are to connect and come together to overcome our collective empathy gap.

And finally if this made you think something, if you have a question or even more shocking a critique let me know. You can call me at 860-576-9393

 

This space is a place to talk back ask me questions, hit me with scenarios of how to react to situations real time. Depending on how good your stuff is I will give it my “first take response” or if it’s good it might be a future podcast!

 

Also as always if you’re interested in booking me to bring the power of inclusive activism to your organization you can always do so at inclusiveactivism@cox.net or you can learn more about this organization at www.inclusiveactivism.com

 

Teaser: Is it really true that somehow we are biogenetically hardwired to not feel a sense of care and empathy for those different than us. Am I as an inclusive activist even subject to this threat? How can I be inclusive if I am hard wired to not care about the pain of others?

 

Today’s podcast is on The Racial Empathy Gap.

 

Welcome back to the podcast! The last two weeks have been really fantastic and I am very appreciative of the time I have had to spend some quality time the last few weekends with friend and family

 

So as far as podcast updates go, I had the podcasts first email this past week and it was very cool because I was asked to speak on activism and self care and how to avoid activist burnout sadly I had to turn down the opportunity to speak at the We the People Summitt sponsored by some great forward thinking folk who needed some different thoughts on diversity inclusion and activism.  It really sounded like an amazing opportunity but sadly I am out of town for an Emerging Leaders Retreat. That is the second opportunity I am having to miss to do inclusion work but at least Emerging Leaders is a form of inclusion work as well. But if you have an opportunity to connect with me and create some synergy – Please remember you can email me at inclusiveactivism@cox.net or leave me a voicemail at 860-576-9393. I would love to hear your thoughts!

 

Also remember to rate and review us on iTunes, or Stitcher, or if you could please share the podcast on social media, All these things go a long way to making a significant difference for us here at the inclusive activism podcast. Also please subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play as these are great ways for me to show “proof of work to potential sponsors”. It would also go a long way in getting my producer Sara paid for her work someday too!

 

So checking in on my Activism:

Its been 4 meeting since I have joined the opportunity Valley Leadership Advance – it is for people who do leadership in AZ but are not yet considered pillars in the community – its been ok

I’m scheduled to get ready for my service event with VLA on 11/18 with Habitat for Humanity which should be interesting since I have never done service with that organization

Did service last night with howl-o-ween – it’s a fund-raising event with the Phx Zoo which I know causes some problematics but it overall is a good if imperfect event which does help conservation efforts across the globe and it provides a safe place for Halloween activities too

I’ll be looking doing a lot more service over Nov which will do a lot to help me cultivate gratitude and I really want to make Nov a month of appreciation.

 

Self Care:

Lift X4 times a week which was good but one short of my goal however I am needing to heal a nagging injury

Got 3X Cardio done this week which is very cool

And Meditated for 3X for at least 10-15 mins as well

Won my first flag football playoff game this morning which means a lot to me

Had a friend Luke Black over last week and it had been a while we are very good for each other to keep me active and keep him balanced and as joyful as we can manage!

 

So on to the podcast for today!

 

 

First: What is the racial empathy gap? This notion comes from a well-documented psychological phenomenon behind what I’d overheard. Morten B. sent along an essay by Jason Silverstein in which he reviews the literature on the racial empathy gap. All things being equal, if you show a person an image of a dark- and a light-skinned person being harmed, they will most likely react more strongly to the latter. Studies have found evidence of this using both self-report and measures of brain activity. Notably, both black and white people respond similarly.

 

Trawalter, S., Hoffman, K. M., & Waytz, A. (2012). Racial bias in perceptions of others’ pain. PloS one, 7(11), e48546.

 

This idea of the racial empathy gap is related to the idea that somehow the darker your skin tone is the more you can stand and deal with pain. It seems like there is this sense of they can deal with difficulty and pain much easier maybe due to their difficult lives – I’m not certain. But what makes it notable is this is not about explicit bias or any degree of racial aminosity – it doesn’t event matter if you are a part of that group or not (both white and black people display effects of that racial empathy gap.

 

Instead, it appears to be related to the perception that black people have already had to cope with a great deal of pain—from racism, poverty, poor health, etc—and, as a result, have a greater pain threshold. In other words, they are less sensitive to pain because they’ve been hardened.

Efforts to parse out whether this effect is due to race specifically or perceptions of whether a person has lived a hard life suggest that it might be primarily the latter. But, as Silverstein points out, we tend to homogenize the black population and assume that all black people face adversity. So, whether the phenomenon is caused by race or status gets pretty muddy pretty fast.

So again the idea is there is a differing sense of empathy for white and black people’s pain outside of race – both races experience this phenomena BOTH feel black can endure more pain

 

Second: What are some examples of the repercussions of the racial empathy gap?

The Crack Epidemic Vs. The Heroin Epidemic

If you want to examine how the white working class receives empathy that is never reserved for the Black working class, look no further than the heroin epidemic. Now admittedly, the heroin epidemic is a terrible health crisis that requires bipartisan solutions. But when crack cocaine disproportionately affected Black communities in the 1980s, there was no call for a public health solution. In fact, the crack epidemic was not considered a public health problem at all, instead, it was considered a criminal justice issue. Crack cocaine users in the Black community were not given clean needles or anti-overdose drugs. They were arrested, given records, and mandatory minimums. Politicians did not call for compassion and sympathy for poor Black people caught up in drugs in the 1980s. They called for harsh criminal penalties. Just look at the 100–1 mandatory sentencing ratio between crack cocaine and powdered cocaine. The law was consciously designed to more harshly impact Black people, who were more likely to use crack cocaine versus the powdered version of the drug. Millions of Black people were got records, were locked up, lost their voting rights, and were later unable to reenter the economy or get a job due to harsh state and local laws passed in the 1980s. Those poor Black people who used crack cocaine got no sympathy from the media or from politicians. But we are expected to sympathize with poor white people who use heroin, and even work overtime to help them avoid criminal penalties.

No “Economic Anxiety” Excuse For Black Workers

How many times have you turned on the local news and seen a Black person accused of committing a petty crime, such as stealing from a gas station or not paying a parking ticket? How many times have read a piece in conservative media that called Black people “lazy,” or “freeloaders,” or “welfare queens?” How many times have you seen members of the media or politicians go on some extended riff about Black on Black crime? Now think about how many times you’ve heard “economic anxiety” used as an excuse for Black people for any of these things? Zero right?

Economic anxiety isn’t an excuse that Black people (or any other minorities really) are allowed to have. Black people are supposed to be at the bottom of the social caste system, and we’re supposed to be meek and quiet about it. Even supposed leftists talk almost exclusively about the white working class, spending virtually no time speaking to the Black working class or building relationships with them. When they ask us to talk about “workers,” they are talking specifically about white workers in factories in the northeast and the rust belt. They aren’t talking about Black communities in South Carolina, in North Carolina, or in Georgia.

Despite the median Black family having 13 times less the wealth of the median white family, Black people have not turned to racial demagogues who demonize other races and call for attacking them to solve their economic problems. The Black community has not turned to the politics of hate in order to fix our much more pressing and severe economic anxiety. Why isn’t economic anxiety ever an excuse we get to use? You already know the answer. Instead, “economic anxiety” is reserved as an excuse for significantly wealthier white workers who have espoused support for racist politics. Nobody is talking about how the Black working class has very real economic anxiety. They are either ignored or told that that they deserve it.

https://medium.com/indian-thoughts/the-racial-empathy-gap-no-sympathy-for-the-black-working-class-1f8cea33b4b1

 

The need for Black Lives Matter! The fact that there is a movement called black lives matter shows us that we have some SERIOUS problems with the racial empathy gap.

 

The racial empathy gap creates: Blacks are 13% of the population and 37% of the total population locked up – that is bananas almost 3 times the rate of their own population! Think if white people we imprisoned at just their rate of 73.6% but are imprisoned at a 39% rate.

The racial empathy gap is present with OIS shootings: 73.9% of the population killed at a rate of 49%. Black are 13% shot and killed at a 24% rate.

 

Black people get prescribed pain meds 40% less often than their white counterparts FOR THE SAME PROBLEM.

 

This is a serious systemic societal problem!

 

Lastly: What can I personally do about it, for myself and for my country? Well first off we need to take a moment and really consider how toxic our society must be for something like this not only to exist – but for all people to feel and respond this way.

 

Take a moment to think of what are the narratives that must be repeated again and again. The visuals we choose on a day in and day out basis – What does this say about us as a people?

 

Next what I would recommend considering is giving a bit more slack in your judgement with news stories or headlines which “feature” blackness or frame blacks as deserving of their fortunes due to some crime. As we saw before there is little to no empathy in a societal sense for working class black people – especially compared with the narratives around the “struggle” of working class whites,

 

Also you really need to expose yourself to different people where you are the only one like you. There are some really deep internal implicit biases at work that create this problem and it is only exposure that can start to help to undue these deeply held biases.

 

Another strategy to overcome the racial empathy gap? One answer may be memory. In one experiment from a study examining different emotional states and how they impact the empathy gap, researchers found that participants who completed a memory task while in “pain” (holding their non-dominant hand in ice water) performed worse on the memory task than participants who were not in pain (Nordgren, van der Pligt, and van Harreveld, 2006). In addition, the ‘pain’ participants were more likely to attribute their poor performance to factors other than the fact that they had been in pain while taking the test (Nordgren, van der Pligt, & van Harreveld, 2006). This research suggests not only that people in stressful emotional states have worse memory during that time and therefore might not realize that what they are doing is not in line with their general actions, but also that the memory of the effects that such a stressful emotional state has on your actions fades extremely quickly. In other words, we forget the impact that our emotions had on what we acted and therefore try to attribute our behavior to something else. This explains why we cannot automatically empathize with anyone who is experiencing an emotion we may have experienced before: because our memory for our experience of that emotion and how it affected us may be impaired or erased. It is important to nurture these memories rather than to suppress them, and to try to understand the impact of our emotions rather than dismiss them, so that we can access those memories later and have an easier time making sense of the emotions of others (thereby avoiding some of the aforementioned negative effects of the empathy gap).

 

We need to try and put ourselves in some first hand experiences in order to really understand the difficulties and pains of others experiences.

How is this all relevant? We all have to deal with different emotions and emotional states at different times. We also often have to interact with people of different ages, races, genders and sexual orientations, and divides between different groups that can result in things like racism or sexism are all too common. We will never be able to experience other people’s emotions in the same way and at the same time that they experience them, or understand how it feels to be a member of a group we don’t belong to. But if being more aware of the emotions that they are experiencing could help us understand them, this could help us in our daily interactions with one another. The takeaway is this: next time you’re in an emotional situation and about to react to something, take a second to think whether what you are about to do is really something you would like to see yourself doing. In other words, is this a fair and proportionate response? Similarly, when someone else is struggling with a problem or reacting extremely to something that may be emotional for them, ask yourself if you have ever felt that way in a different context. If you can access your memories rather than suppress them and recognize the emotion a fellow person is feeling, perhaps you can help calm them down or find a better way to process it, whether they share your age, race, gender, or not. At the very least you will be able to understand what is going through their mind and why they might be reacting in a certain way. Making sure we make an active effort to relate to others rather than look at their situation solely from our own perspective could go a long way in reducing the empathy gap.

 

 

So in review major points of this podcast were:

  1. We defined the racial empathy gap
  2. Where are there some examples of this so called racial empathy gap
  3. We need to take time and understand the lives and experiences of other people ALL other people if we are to connect and come together to overcome our collective empathy gap.

And finally if this made you think something, if you have a question or even more shocking a critique let me know. You can call me at 860-576-9393

 

This space is a place to talk back ask me questions, hit me with scenarios of how to react to situations real time. Depending on how good your stuff is I will give it my “first take response” or if it’s good it might be a future podcast!

 

Also as always if you’re interested in booking me to bring the power of inclusive activism to your organization you can always do so at inclusiveactivism@cox.net or you can learn more about this organization at www.inclusiveactivism.com