Is cat color preference partly based on unconscious, deep-rooted racism? Is racism a form of tribalism? Humans are essentially tribal because we struggle to live alone and therefore we must live in a group of like-minded people and support each other. This is a survival technique. If a person does not conform they can be criticized, bullied and mocked because their nonconformity puts them outside the tribe which destabilizes it, which ultimately threatens survival. People who are considered outsiders threaten the establishment and the establishment squashes them accordingly.
Important note: I have to stress that this is a discussion article. I am making no statements. There are no hard facts in this article other than what is openly known. It all came out of my head so there are no sources. It is obviously a sensitive subject and I’m trying to address it as sensitively as possible. It is, for me, a very interesting subject and that is why I have written about it.
So it could be that racism is linked up with tribalism. Racism is certainly deep rooted and often people are unconsciously racist despite using their best efforts to be completely unbiased and nonracist. Even the best people struggle with racism. That is an argument not a fact. I am not stating a fact. I am really asking questions.
For the sake of the argument in this article, I would like to make the presumption that the vast majority of people, perhaps all people are racist in varying degrees. Sometimes it will be a very faint vestigial version of racism and other times it will be overt and shocking.
Racism seems to brand people by colour. So whites are racist against blacks and blacks are racist against whites and Pakistanis is a racist against whites and whites are racist against Pakistanis and so on. Years ago, I remember clearly having an argument with a Pakistani taxi driver on the telephone. He wanted cash payment and I wanted to provide him with a cheque (check) and when he refused I suggested that he wasn’t paying tax properly. Predictably this resulted in an argument which turned into a racist argument and he kept calling me “milky white”. He had introduced colour into the argument.
We know that some cat colours are more popular than others. White domestic cats are popular, particularly for the Persian pedigree cat. Calico cats are popular particularly when there is lots of white and blobs of colour as favoured by the Japanese in respect of the Japanese Bobtailed cat.
We know that the least popular cat coat at shelters is probably black and the next least popular is probably the brown tabby. It seems, therefore, that we have a polarisation of two extremes in respect of coat colour. At one end we have lightness and light colours and at the other end we have dark colours. It seems quite possible that these likes and dislikes in respect of the colour of the coat of a domestic cat is in part, at least, an expression of unconscious racism.
It is interesting to note that when it comes to inanimate objects such as the car and technical, electronic devices, black is popular. In fact both white and black, the 2 extremes are popular in respect of inanimate objects. This may, or may not be significant. I have no idea. It may be that the colour black signifies “function” and “functionality” while white is all about aesthetic appeal and appearance. I wonder whether we have another version of racism here as well. Functionality indicates that the device needs to work for the owner. It needs to work faultlessly and a black object may give that impression more than a white inanimate object. Is there a hint of the old black slave trade in this model?
With respect to wild cat species back connotes sinister and dangerous. The typical example is the melanistic black jaguar or leopard. As I recall, certain groups of people, perhaps tribes of people, living in South America worshipped the black jaguar and probably sought to kill it and wear its skin so that they could inherit some of its perceived superpowers.
In a recent study, it was found that white people behaved more aggressively after playing video games in which their on-screen avatar was black. In other words when they were playing a video game and they took on the character of a black person they behaved more aggressively. This indicated an unconscious racism that connected the harmful stereotype that blacks are violent.
Perhaps this is another reason why the black domestic cat is the most unpopular colour. Not only is there a hidden and unconscious racism in play, people might believe that the black cat is sinister, dangerous and violent even though that would be illogical at a conscious level.
Associated post: Black people like cats less than white people.