Which Comes First—the Race or the Arrest?

| February 27, 2015


Imagine your friend has just purchased a new piece of furniture and invited you over to see it. When you walk into his living room, there it is—a brown upholstered rectangle with three large cushions centered against the wall. As he offers you a cup of tea, he suggests that you sit on it.

You discern that his new piece of furniture is a couch. You don’t know this because you’ve seen this particular couch—in fact, you haven’t—but because you know about the category of “couches.” You’ve sat on them. You’ve bought them. You don’t need an explanation.

“When you’re able to recognize a particular object as a member of a particular category,” says Lulu Miller, co-host of Invisibilia, “all your knowledge about that category guides your response to that thing, which means you don’t have to figure out everything from scratch every time you encounter something new.” This, of course, saves a lot of time and energy.

Serving as shortcuts for better and quicker decision-making, categories help us navigate our days. What happens, though, when we categorize wrongly?

I Can’t Breathe

Last July, when NYPD officers confronted Eric Garner about illegally selling “loose” cigarettes, he cried, “This ends here,”…


To read the rest of this article, visit http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/which-comes-firstthe-race-or-the-arrest.