At first, our project wanted to just focus on Asian-American discrimination during COVID-19. We wanted to expand to other seasons focusing on other races afterwards. However, after the resurfacing of police brutality against African-Americans and nationwide (now global wide) protests, we feel that time to expand should be now. People were discriminating against each other based on their race even before 2020. It’s just more obvious with these two tangibly demonstrable moments.
How do we help people empathize with one another better?
According to what I call the Purple Hand Study, “racial bias weakens our ability to feel someone else’s pain.” The study first measured if people were biased against people of a certain skin color through this Implicit Association Test. Then, people were shown videos of people’s hands being pricked with a pin, then measured how much pain (thus empathy) they also felt when watching the video. The hands were either a white person’s hand, black person’s hand, or a purple hand. The result? As a whole, people with or without racial biases were most empathetic to people of their own skin color AND the purple hand.
So empathy is natural! It just becomes corrupted over time. To help people feel empathy for others, sometimes, visually seeing people they’re racially biased against works against our goal of increasing empathy.
So what if we hid their faces?
That’s why our video series will intentionally hide speakers' faces and only reveal who they are in the end, taking advantage of hand gestures, animations, and object-based metaphors to convey their story.
The idea of our project is supported by prior studies that show that books can help create more empathy than movies because of their ability to let the reader imagine the character – without visual context – to be more like themselves. We hope to also take advantage of this lack of visual context to create empathy and understanding in our videos about speaker experiences.
Maybe this way, it’ll be easier for us to help viewers realize: the color of our voices goes beyond the colors of our skin. And those colors aren’t worth missing.