How the Desensitization of Police Violence, Stereotyped Language, and Racial Bias Impact Black Communities

Stephanie N. Williams* and Annette V. Clarke

How the Desensitization of Police Violence, Stereotyped Language, and Racial Bias Impact Black Communities.

Despite the relevant research on how violence affects individuals, mass media and the criminal justice system continue to utilize videotaped violence in a manner that would create a habituated effect on viewers and jurors alike. Similar to the Rodney King incident, videos of violence
in Black communities continue to be shown on a rapid loop on various media platforms to either showcase the improprieties of the police, the victims or both.

Several studies have found that police officers find Black faces to be more menacing and criminal when compared to White faces, and the decision to shoot an unarmed Black person occurred more
quickly and with more accuracy than a decision to shoot an unarmed White person. Because of quick decisional requirements of police officers and the impact that implicit bias can have on
the lives of Black community members, there needs to be an intentional re-training of police officers.

Through research and the development of best practices psychologists can inform police departments, judges, lawyers and other important decision-makers on how trauma impacts brain functioning, behavior, and the perspectives of those people affected. Psychologists can help in reducing the possibility of traumatizing communities of color through the constant viewing of violence, can assist in teaching police how to respond to people who suffer from trauma.

Similarly impacting the course of justice is the use of violent, racially charged, fear-mongering imagery in mass media and the larger criminal justice system; which can fuel implicit bias.3
The exploitation of racial fears in court cases involving Black people has often resulted in a term coined the ‘Big Black Man’ stereotype.

Psychol Cogn Sci Open J. 2019; 5(2): 62-67. doi: 10.17140/PCSOJ-5-151