Franchesca Ramsey’s Decoded Tackles Own-Race Bias, or Why People Keep Mistaking Her for Jessica Williams
Decoded, MTV’s weekly series that features Franchesca Ramsey dissecting myths and misconceptions about race, bias, and history has just launched its fifth season.
Ramsey kicks off the season with a phenomenon that lots of us who consume pop culture recognize: celebrity doppelgängers. Yes, while we’ve all made jokes or seen memes about Amy Adams and Isla Fisher or Katy Perry and Zooey Deschanel, there’s a troubling tendency within media outlets to mistaken actors of color for one another, even when they look nothing alike.
Remember Eva Longoria and America Ferrera’s “neither one of us are Rosario Dawson” joke at the 2016 Golden Globes? In the video, Ramsey points out a few examples of actors of color being mistaken for one another and points out this is an example of “own-race bias,” a bias where it’s easier to tell people of your own race apart. She even accompanies it with a stealthy switch with Rachel Pegram and a joke that she’s not Jessica Williams. Of course, media isn’t the only one guilty of this as people of color will often hear “All ____ people look alike.”
Own-race bias is something we’re all guilty of, but putting in the effort is important. It’s something we all have to grapple with, but the solution is easy. See people as people, says Ramsey, “pay attention, and try your best.”
As someone who’s often been mistaken for the one other Asian girl in the room, I can tell you that it doesn’t feel good. Decoded has done consistently great work on making accessible and thought-provoking videos about pop-culture and history, and I’m glad they’re back.
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