Are Black Women Invisible?

Are Black Women Invisible?

Published on December 8, 2010 by Melissa Burkley, Ph.D. in The Social Thinker

In a 2010 article published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Amanda Sesko and Monica Biernat examined the intriguing idea that Black women are socially invisible. In their first study, these researchers wanted to test if Black women were more likely to go unnoticed in a crowd, so they conducted a study to see how well people remembered Black women’s faces. They showed White participants a series of photos depicting men and women who were White or Black. Later, participants were shown a new series of photos-some of the photos were new and some were the same photos they had seen before. Participants simply had to indicate if they had seen the face before. What they found is that participants’ memory was worst at remembering whether they had seen a Black female face before or whether it was new. The same did not occur for Black male faces, suggesting it was something more than just the fact that the target was of another race than the participant. As the researchers pointed out, these results suggest that Black women are more likely than Black men or White men and women to go unnoticed by others in a group or social situation.

So why is it that Black women are so invisible in social situations? Some argue it is because they don’t fit the prototypical image of a stereotype target. So not only do Black women have to overcome the disadvantage of being a member of two underrepresented groups (a disadvantage sometimes referred to as the “double jeopardy hypothesis”), they also have to deal with another form of discrimination that is not shared by White women or Black men: Invisibility. This means their presence is more likely to go unnoticed and their voice more likely to go unheard. To stand out and voice their opinions, Black women have to work even harder than their fellow Black men or White women counterparts.

I found this article both intriguing and frustrating because it is the 21st century and it does not seem to matter the advancements, successes and contributions black women make to their families, their professions and the world– someone, somewhere is still not giving credit where credit is due.

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Posted on February 20, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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