Racism is not confined to those who can see skin color, as a new study revealed the unique ways in which blind people can develop racist attitudes or opinions as well.
"The visual process of assigning race is instantaneous, and it’s an example of automatic thinking — it happens below the level of awareness," said Asia Friedman, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Delaware, Discovery News reported
"With blind people, the process is much slower as they piece together information about a person over time. Their thinking is deliberative rather than automatic, and even after they’ve categorized someone by race, they’re often not certain that they’re correct."
Friedman's study, presented Tuesday at the 110th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Chicago, included interviews with 25 blind people. Some had been blind from birth, others had lost their sight later in life.
As one might intuit, five of nine respondents who'd been blind since birth or since early childhood said that they did not think about people's appearances. Nonetheless, they said they still used nonvisual cues including names and voices to make assumptions or guesses about a person's lifestyle, behavior, and socioeconomic class.
Nonetheless, "Many of my subjects said they thought that being blind made them less likely to develop stereotypes," said Friedman.
According to CNN
, Osagie K. Obasogie, a professor of law at University of California Hastings College of Law, said that he would caution against thinking that blind people are less racist than sighted people.
"I would push back against the idea that blind people somehow enter every social interaction with a blank slate," he said. "If race is such a strong and deep part of our social order that blind people who have never seen anything can see and pay attention to race ... it shows how deep the problem is."
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