Nautilus

How a Rubber Hand Can Help Fight Racial Bias

maxstockphoto via Shutterstock

I am a light-skinned woman, I grew up in the Southern United States, and I harbor negative stereotypes about dark-skinned people. I dislike this about myself. I would like to pretend that this is not true, but I have proof.

About 15 years ago I found myself making a stop for gas in a somewhat economically stressed part of Atlanta, Georgia. As I stood there fiddling with the pump, feeling vulnerable, an African-American man approached me. He said something to me. “I don’t have any money,” I said, looking away. “Really?” he said. “I just asked you for directions!” 

As I fell over myself attempting apology he walked away to ask someone less bigoted. I have never been more embarrassed. I looked at him again. He was well-dressed. He was articulate. The man was clearly not drunk, high, or in need of my money. But at first look I saw none of that. I saw the

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