Here are details of a study – which includes implicit association testing as a component – which suggest that white Americans unconsciously perceive blacks to be “superhuman.”
Whites are relatively quick to associate blacks with words like ghost, paranormal, and spirit. They are also more likely to think (unconsciously) that blacks have superhuman abilities and a higher tolerance for pain than whites.
The author of the news story linked above argues that this runs contrary to what comes to mind when we think of racism. However, these findings are logical when placed in historical context. In less enlightened times, whites spoke freely about fears of slave violence and described black men, in particular, as having mystical and uncontrollable sexual powers. In more modern times, black success in many high-profile sports might feed into this – how often do we watch football or basketball and hear an announcer describe a black athlete as a “freak of nature” or something along those lines?
The people at Mother Jones put an Obama spin on this, and speculate this might have something to do with how Americans perceived him back in 2008.
The full study is here, if you are interested in purchasing a copy.