What is the difference between a bias against black cats and a bias against black people?

Black cats and pretty woman

Black cats and pretty woman

There is a question on Quora.com which politely asks whether a bias concerning black cats and black people are the same. Having thought about it for about 30 seconds, it’s clearly apparent that they are very different.

Note: in the modern world, which is highly politically correct, it is tricky dealing with a sensitive subject such as this even though it is quite interesting. Please be aware that I have made every attempt not to project any ideas of racism. I’m being as scientific as I can and employing as much common sense as I can.

Black Cat Bias

The bias against black cats at shelters is based upon appearance and perhaps there is an element of superstition there as well even in the 21st century which is surprising to me. Black cats get a back deal at shelters.

It is the kind of bias that people have when buying automobiles. They tend to prefer silver cars rather than green cars. Adopters of rescue cats at shelters prefer to adopt tortoiseshell cats or red tabby cats. Other popular types are solid colours-and-white or all-white cats.

Black cat are often at the bottom of the ranking list. As mentioned, people are less fond of the appearance of black cats and this point of view may be coloured (apologies for the pun) because of the historical association between black cats and witches. This may be a deeply engrained subconscious bias against the colour black in respect of domestic cats but not with respect to automobiles.

The bias may even originate from about 100,000 years ago when humans were fighting for survival against large predators which included melanistic (black) big cats (aka black panthers). Remember in those days big cat distribution was far wider (e.g. they were in Europe) and population sizes far higher.

Black People Bias

A bias against against black people is racism. I believe that everybody has the potential to be racist to varying degrees and it may be present even in people who are avowedly not racist. It’s almost like tribalism. It goes back millennia (perhaps 100k years) to when humans were living in mud huts or caves. Humankind has an innate tribalism. Perhaps it is a desire for security that one keeps to one’s group and anyone outside of one’s own group represents a potential danger and therefore disliked resulting in a bias against other races of people as a result.

To recap, a bias against black people is racism and bias against black cats is not. It is simply a bias in preference of a certain coat type in my view. There is no connection between this bias and speciesism. The motivators in bias are completely different when comparing humans to cats. Throwing a spanner into the works, ‘Are we being unconsciously racist when rejecting a black cat at a shelter?

What are your views on this?

P.S. I believe that domestic cats are less popular with black people than white people but that is a different subject.

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What is the difference between a bias against black cats and a bias against black people? — 1 Comment

  1. I pretty much agree and at first thought I tend to think in even simpler terms, that black is a less attractive or more sinister color than white no matter what the object, person or animal behind it is. Maybe it’s as simple and ancient as the fact that night time is dark, cold and scary while daytime is bright, warm and brings life, and over time in our way of imposing order and values on the world it just started from there. We even make it a self fulfilling prophecy, such as the American westerns portraying the bad guys in black hats and the good guys in white, angels wear white. When food goes bad or bodies rot, they turn black, and so on. We may have built up our whole philosophy on life based a lot on what colors are more acceptable than others. We obviously perpetuate it with fables, superstitions and racism. Great article, you really got me thinking.

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