Intuitively, we understand that different people have different perspectives on the world. But this is in tension with the idea that we are all “seeing” the same world. How much of our world do we create? How much of our world accords with “the facts”?
We may often confuse our expectation of the world with what actually happens. Such confusion was operative in the murder of Amadou Diallo: New York police officers expected a black man to be holding a gun. He was holding his wallet.
Racist cops aren’t the only ones who make these biased snap judgments: self professed non-racists from all races make these judgments (cf. Greenwald, McGhee, & Schwartz, 1998; Payne, 2006).
Black people in America are often faced with simultaneously holding two perceptions of themselves. In 1903, W.E.B Du Bois called this "double consciousness": the experience black Americans have of "always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others.” This perception of oneself from the outside is evident in the ways people of color often respond preemptively to the expectations of others.
In our video, Misperception, we have gathered clips of situations involving black and white people in ambiguous interactions. We removed the audio component, leaving viewers to decide for themselves the nature of the interaction. Through this, we seek to challenge the way viewers think about the ways in which they perceive. In this vein, we included printed cards in the installation space, pointing viewers to the Harvard Implicit Test: implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html
This collaborative project is rooted in the idea that friendship and knowledge can establish pathways to identifying and challenging our biases.