Why do humans perceive an Other and does it Matter?

A challenge of the human condition is overcoming bias from others and from within ourselves.  One very problematic bias is the Other-Race Effect. We categorize people based on assumed racial features as either Us or Other. Why does this happen? The oft political response is that people or societies are racist , but that answer does not satisfactorily answer the question.

For me, this kind of question demands that we focus on the evolutionary origin of the trait?” Finding the root is an effective means of understanding causation then working towards changing the effect (i.e. outcome).  That is why I found Ross Pomeroy’s, commentary in Big Think on the subject of “The Other Race Effect” intriguing.

Pomeroy clearly articulates why the issue should be studied, then highlights research that offer the most promising hypothesis for why we do it.  Finally, he closes with answers to the most important question, “Is there any way to prevent or minimize the Other-Race Effect?” Pomeroy’s response is, yes. As he reports:

If infants regularly see and interact with people of other races before nine months of age, the Other-Race Effect may never emerge. But for those who are already inept at distinguishing between people of other ethnicities, don’t fret, there’s still hope. According to University of London psychologist Gizelle Anzures, “the Other-Race Effect can be prevented, attenuated, and even reversed given experience with a novel race class.”

Storytelling is a fundamental to human interaction and can be an effective means of overcoming bias, but stories work best when shared in a safe space. Mixed Roots Stories provides an online platform for sharing and engaging with stories. What is your story?