real stories. real people.
WHAT I DO: Write about race, ethnicity, and other topics for The Associated Press.
WHAT I DON'T DO: Opinions. I'm a reporter, not a columnist. My job is to illuminate the thoughts and lives of other people.
BUT: Of course I do have opinions, which inevitably affect what I write.
SO: I constantly seek out perspectives different than my own.
I'M ALSO A: Novelist. Magazine founder. Lifelong Baha'i.
By JESSE WASHINGTON
AP National Writer
February 12, 2014
"They all look alike."
There may be something behind this age-old canard: Science indicates that people can have a hard time differentiating between faces of people whose race is different from their own. But for black people, being mistaken for someone else can have a special sting, which helps explain why the movie star Samuel L. Jackson eviscerated a white TV reporter for mistaking him for Laurence Fishburne.
"We may be all black and famous, but we all don't look alike!" Jackson exclaimed. He proceeded to ridicule the reporter, refusing to move on despite profuse apologies.
It was a situation that's familiar to many groups in a diverse society conscious of demographic boxes.
Asian-Americans get confused with people who aren't even from their ancestral countries. Blondes get mistaken for other blondes who look nothing like them. Straight people accidentally call lesbians the name of the other lesbian they know.
"Americans have been socialized to place people in categories," said Josie Brown-Rose, an English professor at Western New England University. "Everything from a job application to a college application requires us to self-identify into racial groups and locate ourselves with in a specific collective." (read more)