As the nation holds its breath waiting for a decision by the Ferguson grand jury, it’s important to remember why officer Darren Wilson expects to go uncharged for shooting a black teenager who was running away, then surrendering, then falling to the ground with bullets in his body. He expects the grand jury to buy his story because there remains a widespread, pernicious, and ugly kind of prejudice in which whites subconsciously ascribe superhuman abilities to black people. By coincidence, we also have real science to describe the phenomenon now:

While most people are familiar with the idea of seeing different ethnic or religious groups as subhuman, the researchers write that “the phenomenon of superhumanization has received virtually no empirical attention in psychology.” So what should we make of the fact that white people appear to “implicitly and explicitly superhumanize” black people? The authors state that more work is needed, but they suggest that superhumanization bias could help explain why black patients are undertreated for pain, for example, or why “people consider Black juveniles to be more ‘adult’ than White juveniles when judging culpability.”

The study was published by the journal Social Psychology & Personality Science in October. Not only do the researchers show a clear bias among whites to project superhuman capabilities on blacks, the researchers have proven that whites also predict greater “denial of pain” by blacks. In other words, Darren Wilson kept shooting because he thought the big, black monster didn’t feel any of the bullets hitting his body — and white grand jurors are likely to think that way, too.

  • Pedro

    “black teenager who was running away, then surrendering” False. Read the medical report Matt. 300+ pounds, 18 years old, just robbed a store . . . You make him sound like he was on his way to church.

    • DanMR

      Makes sense. After you knock off a store, robing it and beating up the store clerk, he was thoughtfully and peacefully surrendering. Give me a break.

    • Michael Brown was minding his own damn business and had done nothing to deserve being shot to death. If he had just robbed a store, then why didn’t he have any stolen items on him? Even if he had taken a whole crate of 99-cent cigars, how does that justify the hail of bullets? Please remember that your answers will be screencapped and used to respond to any future comments you make about the necessity of assault rifle-access for keeping government off your back.

      • Pedro

        The medical report disputes that. His blood was in the officers car btw. Not sure what you mean about “assault rifles” .

  • Ratcraft

    So because some “researcher” believes white people think blacks are supermen, this cop shot him. How anyone come to that conclusion is beyond me. Who do they talk to about the whole pain thing? ER nurses who say “yeah we don’t give black guys pain killers”.

    • There are substantial racial disparities in medical outcomes which have not been explained by any genetic, cultural, or physiological factors on the part of the patient. This is a long-established fact of the medical profession.

      • Ratcraft

        But it always had the white guy as the evil one right?

        • No, Ratcraft, there are evils in the world that don’t flow from particular personalities. I realize that you come from a world where all bad things that happen can be traced back to Obama’s birth certificate, but that’s not the way the world actually works.

          • Ratcraft

            Oh so I am not only a homophobe, a racist, a rightwing nut ,and a gun nut, but a birther too.

          • Whereas in your estimation I been a baby-killing, race-baiting, leftwing nut, gun-hating Obamabot this whole time.

          • Ratcraft

            No I called you a leftist, the rest just comes with it right? Buhahahaha. I do enjoy the banter though.

    • Ted bundy

      they sure as hell can jump high and run fast my great great grand daddy said they can take a pretty good lashing too so i suppose that there qualifies them having superhuman powers lol but it dont justify killing a good field hand and wasting tax payer bullets neither hell i own stock in the prison id rather make money off em any day

  • DanMR

    As I read this, I was completely thrown for a loop from the theory presented in this article. Growing up in Decatur, Il, there was quite a racial divide clearly defined by neighborhoods. Seeing a Black enter ours or us entering theirs would immediately be met with suspicion. This was not because of any perceived superhuman ability, but living in these areas taught you entering theirs could lead to great bodily harm or seeing them enter ours led to the fear of having your bike stolen. Unfortunately, there were several times as a paper boy with a morning route delivering in part in their area in the 60’s I would face having to fight some of them off in an effort to keep the money I collected to pay for the papers. More than once, I would of lost if not for a customer coming out of their home in my favor.
    The more I watch the news and read about those who claim empirical evidence as proof of their findings the more I am convinced they are using pseudo science to prove their theory in hope of either gaining recognition or advancing Obama’s agenda.

    • Riiight, that’s all these scientists are doing with their studies and statistical analysis, is secretly supporting Obama’s sinister agenda. “Pseudoscience” is the word for whatever findings you disagree with, right?

  • nightmoth

    Nice little article, Matt. The study to which you refer is kind of “re-inventing the wheel” as far as social psychology goes, but I guess it has to be re-invented every generation or so. You’d be interested in a book by John Hoberman called “Darwin’s Athletes.” It’s controversial thesis is primarily that professional sports in America have perpetuated racism, but there is an amazing chapter: “Black Hardiness and the Origins of Medical Racism.” (The excerpts from medical journals and details of experiments are horrifying.) Here’s a good summation sentence: “The idea of black hardiness and vitality is a system of interrelated subthemes that are finally all related to the theme of the primitive human type who is biologically different from civilized man.”

    • chalon jackson

      Please read the entire message before u judge…
      Per capita..how many times do stores get looted or robbed by people of korean descent…or chinese..or lithuanian..or college educated african americans…or (omg.dare i say it..those overtly dangerous islamic immigrants)sic..sarcasm
      its not the color of the skin…but the lack of upbringing and a community that thrives on thumbing its nose in the face of the same society that feeds and houses its collective lazy asses…trash is trash…white or black..red..yellow..green…who the f cares

      • chalon jackson

        Just to clarify…i dont believe lethal force should be used in any situation that didnt involve rape..murder..or abuse. That being said..a policemans job is harder than anyone elses in america…hands down…i know a man who is a 20 year veteran of the police force…he constantly states that patrolling certain neighborhoods is the worst assignment an officer can draw…and he grew up in said neighborhoods…he and his fellow officers want to help…want to clean out the vermin from those neighborhoods…but everytime they act…the community always sides with the criminal..i mean..the perfect angel of a young person…
        btw…i will let u decide what color my friend is…if u immediately said black..then who’s the racist?

  • Ted bundy

    well pedro he sure as hell wasn`t jumping the boarder to go get tacos now was he fact is the kid was minding his business cop pulls over with out probable cause it sure as hell wasnt for robing the store or assault on the store clerk either right Dan now if it were your boy youd want some justice now would you not amigo would you not dan bo good day fellers

  • Dodie Peterson

    18 is considered an adult in this country, remember? This young man chose to rob a store. It’s too bad that he got killed for the crime but anyone who makes that type of bad choice faces the same dangers. If this had a been a white guy, no one in Ferguson would have batted an eye.

    • SelenaJ25

      I completely agree. This man committed a crime and he needed to be held accountable for his actions. It is very unfortunate that his actions caused him to be killed and I feel that the officer involved should have been reprimanded in some way. Of course it is true that if this individual was a white male this would not have made the news at all. It really is a tragedy when you stop and think about it.

  • Philli

    Interesting! I hadn’t heard this perspective before. It’s much like the whole idea that black people are more dangerous or more of a threat. So ridiculous.

  • Ronny

    Whoops.