Racism Takes Center Stage

Recently, I remembered a video I watched last semester in my Developmental: Inclusion/ Exclusion class. This video was from ABC’s What Would You Do; this video includes both a white and black actor who are stealing a bike from the park. Both boys have multiple different forms of equipment to remove the bike from the locked bike rack, both boys are wearing the same type of clothing. The only difference about these two teenage boys is the fact that one of them is white and one of them is black.

As I mentioned before, this took place in a park in front of so many people who had plenty of opportunities to stop both boys in the act. When the white teenage boy was attempting to steal the bike, the many other white observers who past him either didn’t say anything or made small comments such as, “is that your bike.” When the white teenage boy responded with, “well not really” people would just shake their heads but not actually do anything about the act of stealing the bike. While the white teenage boy was working at stealing the bike, one hundred different people walked by him but yet none of them did anything to stop him from stealing the bike. On the other hand, when they replaced the white teenage boy with the black teenage boy, it was only seconds before there was an entire crowd of people around him harassing him about if the bike was his or not. Interestingly enough, all the people around him were white and one of them immediately pulled out his phone to call the police. This black actor triggered many different reactions from the white bystanders who saw him stealing the bike. Many of these witnesses even began to take pictures of the black teenage actor so that they could show the police if he were to get away before they got there.

(I have pasted the link to the article and video of this at the end)

I was astonished by the drastic change in reactions of the bystanders between the black and white teenage actors. Even watching it for a second time to refresh my memory from last semester, I was still just as shocked at how people treated the white actor in comparison to the black actor. It is disappointing to think that our society has made strides towards equality but then see something like this video. It is very difficult to understand what was going through the witness’s heads when the white actor was stealing the bike and what was going through their heads when the black actor was stealing the bike. Why did they find the black teenage actor to be more of a threat than the white teenage actor? How can we stop such racial discrimination?





1 thought on “Racism Takes Center Stage”

  1. I am glad that you shared this episode. I think it does a great job illustrating the concept of racial associations that we discussed in class. People assumed that the black teenager was stealing the bike because blacks are associated with crime. I think that to stop this kind of discrimination, we need to end such associations and stereotypes. But how can we do that?

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