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On Hidden Racial Bias and Speciesism

I was going to call this “Aint I a Racist” but then I thought that would be some kind of evidence of my hidden racial bias.

You see, I’m white and educated and though I never consciously intend to say or do anything that is racist, my entire worldview is one that some would call “privileged.” Not as privileged as my white, educated husband whose world was less diverse and much wealthier than mine growing up, but still . . .

I fear I’m one of those people who has no idea when she’s being insensitive or acting racist. I’m not regularly ridiculed for that, but I always wonder if I come across as one of those privileged, racially-insensitive white liberal elitists I read about.

Do I? And if so, what exactly is it that I’m doing that communicates that?

I took Harvard’s Implicit Association Test for race this morning and “[My] data suggest little to no automatic preference between African American and European American,” for whatever that’s worth.

In today’s New York Times, Charles M. Blow writes about Project Implicit and other things in “A Nation of Cowards?” What does this have to do with speciesism? Blow writes:

According to a Brown University and University of Victoria study that was published last month in the online journal PLoS One, researchers were able to ameliorate white’s racial biases by teaching them to distinguish black peoples’ faces from one another. Basically, seeing black people as individuals diminished white peoples’ discrimination. Imagine that.

Ah . . . so seeing individuals as individuals diminishes discrimination. Sounds familiar. Though my brochure, Thinking Critically About Animal Rights (TCAAR8), was sort of a flop (but fortunately a handful of people did it right shortly thereafter), one bit of feedback is always the same: The photos of the faces of Ferdinand, Minh, Didi, Cinder, Violet Rays, Henrietta and Pumpkin make it more difficult to see them as commodities or food. Seeing sentient nonhumans as individuals diminishes speciesism.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dan #

    Getting people to see sentient nonhumans as individuals is one of the primary goals of Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary and their blog. It is essential in overcoming speciesism.

    February 21, 2009
  2. Thinking about racism along with speciesism reminds me of the controversy over the recent New York Post cartoon depicting a monkey. Nonhumans are often presented as inferior (rather than merely different), and to be compared to one is assumed to be an insult. The cartoon’s speciesism went unnoticed by the critics.

    February 21, 2009
  3. The Monkey I referred to in the cartoon was actually a Chimpanzee.

    February 21, 2009
  4. Wow, that is a parallel between racism and speciesism that I HADN'T heard of before. Very, very interesting!

    February 27, 2009

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