You Look Familiar: How Physical Similarity May Contribute to Stereotyping

by Brandon LevyIn February 2012, Florida neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin after calling 911 to report a “suspicious person” in his neighborhood. In November 2014, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot by a Cleveland police officer while playing in a public park with a toy gun. Nearly a year later, California resident Fay Wells published a piece in the Washington Post describing how she was confronted by at least 16 armed police officers because a neighbor thought she was breaking into her own apartment. Though these three incidents took place many months and thousands of miles apart, they share a vital commonality: Martin, Rice, and Wells were all black.As a neuroscientist who wants to understand why people make the choices they do, the influence that…


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