UC Berkeley Institute of Personality and Social Research



Polluting Black Space

Presenter: Courtney Bonam, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois, Chicago

Wed, Feb 15, 2017, 12:10 pm to 1:15 pm

5101 Tolman Hall

Physical space has been and remains a tool for maintaining racial hierarchy, resulting in a range of different kinds of physical spaces being imbued with racial meaning (e.g., Black inner-cities, White suburbs). Accordingly, racial stereotype content extends beyond personal attributes to physical space characteristics (e.g., Black areas are impoverished, White areas are wealthy). The mere presence of people activates these space-focused racial stereotypes, guiding perceptions and evaluations of physical space. For example, people assume lower quality amenities when a neighborhood is Black (vs. White), which leads them to be less willing to visit the neighborhood, monetarily devalue a house there, and provide less environmental protection for the surrounding area. These processes occur even when accounting for anti-Black bias and neighborhood class. I will discuss additional experimental evidence for these ties between race and physical space, as well as implications for persistent racial disparities in wealth, health, and environmental pollution exposure.

Courtney Bonam is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois, Chicago. She began this position in 2012, after completing a Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California Berkeley. Dr. Bonam is also a research affiliate of San Francisco State University's Institute for Sustainable Economic, Educational, and Environmental Design. Trained as a social psychologist, her research focuses on stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination; environmental justice; racial disparities in access to high quality physical space; and the experiences and perceptions of multiracial people. Courtney is a graduate of Stanford University and became a Ford Foundation Fellow during her time there.

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