Implicit Bias 101



“But, Senator, please, you know, enough of this seeking every opportunity to demean law enforcement broadly by making the accusation of implicit bias every time tragedy occurs.”
– Indiana Gov. Mike Pence during the Vice Presidential Debate, 4 October 2016

Implicit bias. Black Lives Matter. Racism.

The 2016 presidential election. Riots.


How did we get here?

This morning I watched a video produced by the Jim Crow Museum located at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, far North of the Mason-Dixon line.

Watching that video I came to reflect on what I was taught in the public schools of New Jersey in the 1970s.

In the classroom we seemed to spend much more time studying World War II and the atrocities of the Holocaust as compared with the plight of African Americans and the impact of the Jim Crow laws.

This made me wonder;

How many kids graduating from American High Schools can explain what Jim Crow laws were as compared with the number of kids who can explain what the Holocaust was?

Predicting the result of such a survey is not difficult.

Racial segregation in the United States, along with all its related injustices, spans a couple of centuries, and its lasting impact and effects remain painfully obvious to this very day.

Right in the backyard of most Americans.

The Nazi genocide, on another continent, lasted for only five years.

This is not a question of which atrocity was worse. That is a pointless pursuit.

This is simply a point raised in an effort to understand how anyone today, during presidential debates no less, could deny that there is an implicit bias in the way Americans view people of other ethnic groups, in this case, specifically African-Americans.

Racism is not inherently found in Americans’ DNA, but rather it is the result of centuries of indoctrination delivered in entertainment (from Al Jolson to Dirty Harry), advertising and today by the news media and American politicians.

“We have a situation where we have our inner cities, African-Americans, Hispanics are living in hell because it’s so dangerous.”
– GOP Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump during the Presidential Debate, 26 September 2016

The lack of awareness and understanding of the origins of implicit bias only serves to perpetuate it.

Sure, some progress has been made, but current events, including the intentional reinforcement, manipulation and denial of the implicit bias reality, demonstrate that there is still much more that needs to be done.

And really, do we need anyone’s face on the Aunt Jemima’s Pancake Mix package?

Probably not.



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