Black culture and White culture have diametrically opposed meanings when it comes to eye contact. Studies have shown that in Japanese, African and American black cultures, eye contact is a symbol of rebellion and disrespect and avoiding eye contact is a sign of subordination and submission (Gilliam & Van Den Berg, 1980, p. 84). In white culture, the opposite is true: eye contact communicates “trustworthiness, masculinity, sincerity” (Gilliam et al, 1980, p. 84) and avoidance of eye contact indicates an absence of these qualities.
Gilliam, HVB & Van Den Berg, S 1980, ‘Different Levels of Eye Contact: Effects on Black and White College Students’, Urban Education, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 83-92.