In my post about race and criminal justice a few weeks ago, I mentioned that psychological research illustrates widespread racial bias. This recent piece from the New York Times contains much more information on that topic, with unsettling examples ranging from medical diagnoses, to car sales, to job interview call-backs. Definitely worth a read.
What makes this so tricky is that, for most of us, the bias is not conscious. People of good will may believe strongly in civil rights, deplore bigotry, work for equal opportunity — and yet, at the same time, unknowingly make decisions and take actions that have the subtle effect of intensifying racial divisions.
When you’re not even aware of a prejudicial instinct — indeed, when such an instinct directly contradicts your own conscious values — then it’s especially hard to root out. I don’t know the answer, but we should probably begin by at least acknowledging the facts honestly, rejecting the convenient notion that good intentions make us immune to bias, and accepting the idea that this is a problem and a responsibility for everybody.