Do not make eye contact with a predator; this allows it to pick you out of the herd. Even worse is to RUN AWAY. This triggers the chase and kill instinct. Do not run.
I have thought quite a bit about socially dictated “rules” of eye contact that help define Aspergers as “developmentally disordered.” But – these rules are culturally subjective and diverse. I think it’s the instinctive response between animals that is causing huge problems. “Policing authorities” are designated predators-by-law and empowered to execute predatory behavior. Policing is not all about predation; police do protect and serve their communities, however, it’s no surprise that individuals who are comfortable with being a predator gravitate toward specific jobs. But, weaker individuals, who may be very uncomfortable with the task of wielding power, may end up in such jobs and that’s also a problem.
The following also applies to autistic, Asperger, disabled and those with mental vulnerabilities: contrary to modern sentiment, predators “select” the vulnerable as their targets; the young, the old, the injured.
There are situations that trigger the predatory response, especially if the person stopped by the police unwittingly switches into prey behavior – notably, running away. A natural response (especially for young black males, who ARE prey) that may jump-starts predatory behavior in a police officer.
The racial aspect of this is huge. The history of White and African relationships is one of predation of black people by white people. There is something else that is overlooked: the stereotyping of black males by entertainment, the media, sports, etc. is utterly skewed: Big, black, aggressive, out-of-control and criminally active are adjectives that dominate the white view of black males: dangerous on all counts.
Stop and take one minute to examine this stereotype: black males are always the aggressors. Ridiculous! These are human beings who way more often than not are frightened, intimidated, harassed, and tragically, are often trying to live up to the “Big Bad Black Male” stereotype. Are black men allowed to feel fear, pain, and sorrow? Are they allowed to be gentle, caring and intelligent?
To the public observer, the act of running away is “non-threatening” and the police reaction is baffling and “over the top.” We are viewing the event rationally – a given situation has escalated way beyond what we would imagine ourselves doing. A person who is running away is obviously not a threat. It’s not about threat; it’s about acting like prey and pulling the predatory trigger.
As an Asperger, I can describe my reactions regarding eye contact. (I do not react well to aggressive people.)
1. The other person is invading my comfort zone. It’s a breach of “boundary etiquette.” If the person stands too close (and stares) I will gain space in any number of benign ways, including calculated removal of myself from the area. I will avoid eye contact naturally, instinctively, because eye contact with predators rings their bell.
2. If the person is not aggressive, and a conversation takes place, I will switch to listening mode, because his or her appearance is no longer vital; my visual system has sized up the person and decided that he or she is “friendly.” This is intuitive. I will likely keep adjusting the “space” between us, which probably looks weird to other people.