So yesterday the internet popped off when an Irish newspaper mistakingly put a picture of UK grime artist Stormzy instead of new Manchester United player Romelu Lukaku. Yeah I can’t lie they do look alike, but it’s still not good enough that a national newspaper can make such a blunder. Some say it’s a mild form of racism, yet research shows it’s actually just science and racism isn’t scientific right?
Irish newspaper, The Herald, made an alarming blunder by mistaking rapper Stormzy for Romelu Lukaku on the back page of its Monday newspaper.
Despite their resemblance, it’s a shambles that a media organisation responsible for sharing opinions, factual stories, and proffesional practices with Ireland and the rest of the world can make such a mistake. At best their incompetence was an honest mistake, and whoever made the article
At best their incompetence was an honest mistake, and whoever made the article needs to learn the difference in typing ” Romelu Lukaku” and “Stormzy” into Google, at worst their display of incompetence normalises the ignorance, indifference and disinterest that some people have in differentiating one black man from the next…
Now here’s where the science comes in, scientists who have pointed to decades of research believe The Herald’s mistake is thanks to the other-race effect a cognitive phenomenon that “makes it harder for people of one race to readily recognize” or distinguish between individuals of another.
According to Roy S. Malpass professor of psychology at the University of Texas who has studied the subject since the 1960s, the racially provocative phrase “they all look alike to me” turns out to be largely scientifically accurate and he thinks “It has a lot of validity”.
Some say it’s not racism, that makes it difficult for people to distinguish between people of another race, but instead it is the lack of early and meaningful exposure to other races that often make it harder for us to struggle to recognise people of other races yet easy to remember and identify people of our own race.
Still, although the other-race effect may explain why some people struggle to distinguish individuals from other races, it will always fail to condone the feelings of indifference and the attack on an individual’s personal identity, that confusing them for another person of their race creates.
Of course, there’ll always be someone who disagrees, and doesn’t see things for how I (we) do…
but Stormzy didn’t think this was a joke, nor should anyone else. I’d bet that the people who do think this a joke or not that deep have never been or known someone closely who have been racially profiled, suffered from disproportionate stop and searches, or generally been stereotyped as something or someone they are not.
If this whole scientific explanation is valid, then surely white people, especislly those is positions of responsibility e.g. police or someone picking a the ‘right suspect’ from a line up, need to be made known about their conscious and/or unconscious bias’ because at best its an attack on an individual’s personal identity, but at worst it’s an attack on someone’s freedom or even life.
TWN Editor Chijioke Anosike