This week, I was browsing Buzzfeed instead of doing homework (as per usual), and I stumbled across an article/video about a “social experiment” done by two men: one black, one white. They parked their car on a public street and proceeded to fake break into the car and watch what happened. The white prankster tried for 30 minutes to break into the car, horn blaring, and nothing happened. A cop car even drove by and didn’t do anything. However, when the black prankster tried, cops showed up after two minutes, and it took over a half hour to prove to the cops that he actually did own the car and that the whole thing was a prank. He was held against a wall and cursed at while onlookers glared suspiciously, when the white participant had none of this occur.
This situation is a really interesting example of aversive racism, where people’s underlying prejudices come out in ambiguous situations. In this situation, there was no way of knowing who the car belonged to, and the white prankster was given the benefit of the doubt whereas the black prankster was assumed to be a criminal. The part that is particularly interesting to me is that there were non-ambiguous signs, such as the metal instrument that they were using to break into the car. I don’t know that it would be a normal sign on the street to see somebody try to open a car that way, but the white prankster was given the benefit of the doubt even if there were some signs that made the situation less ambiguous.
So, what do you think? Do you think the situation was ambiguous? How does this situation fit into the concept of aversive racism? What do you think you would have done if you were a witness?