For HW: Check out this post about Dying of Whiteness by Jonathon Metzel and choose one of:
(b) listen to Dr. Metzel’s interview with Mr. Hayes
c) read the transcript of the interview
d) (or you can do both b and c)
In the last lesson, we learned about how racism affects people indirectly through institutions, enabling dynamics like wealth accumulation and segregation in housing and schools. However, implicit racism can also manifest itself in more mundane ways. Dubois’ wage of whiteness and McIntosh’s privilege are implicit in everyday interactions. As Americans realized the harmful effects of racism, many Americans sought to become “colorblind” due to race. The idea was that making race invisible would get rid of the race-based institutional policies that shaped racism in the US from 1619 to 1970. Also, because racism was so stigmatized, many Americans were afraid to talk about race. Many people assumed that if they could not see race they would treat everyone the same. Cdeliberately trying to ignore race became a deliberate goal of American culture.
From color blindness to race awareness
But the sudden taboo of race in American culture did not reverse the racist effects of the previous 350 years. Sociologists have responded to this new trend by pointing to the ways in which race continues to shape our everyday interactions in subconscious, implicit ways.
Duke University professor Eduardo Bonilla-Silva in his speech at Texas A&M in 2001. talked about “color blindness”. here. And he wrote about the effects of implicit racism in his 2003 in the book Racism without racists. Bonilla-Silva noted that turning a blind eye to race has actually worsened racial inequality because society can now appear benevolent while ignoring and even exacerbating inequality. Rather than being “color blind,” Bonilla-Silva said, we should strive to be race-conscious.
What is Bonilla-Silva’s important contribution to race theory?
As you finish this lesson, think about the examples below and how they can allow inequality to exist if we ignore race.
In addition to the examples of implicit bias by researchers published by the Kirwan Institute, implicit bias that ignores race is also shown in more mundane examples.
What color dress is Mrs. Obama wearing in this photo?
This photo of Michelle Obama was posted with the caption that she was wearing a “flesh colored” dress. Do they mean Michelle’s skin is not meat? I don’t think so, but this is an example of the privilege of being white; white skin is considered normal/flesh colored. It’s just one of the many privileges of being white in a culture where whiteness is normal, desirable, or better than other “colors.” If we see society through color blindness, then we implicitly accept that white skin is the normal skin of the United States.
How are the two examples above examples of implicit racism?
Part of the privilege of being white and the implicit bias of not being perceived as white is the idea of belonging. Similar to Nina Davuluri being perceived as un-American, here are some examples (A NY Police Lt., Harvard US President, State Senator Obama) where Americans who are perceived as black are treated as independent. Sometimes they are considered not to belong to the US or not to be American, but in other cases they do not belong to a more micro-sociological context, such as living in a particular house or neighborhood. Below are examples of this from 2018.
And these are just the incidents reported by CNN! No doubt many others. A review of the news headlines this year shows that other people of color have also been called to the police. But it seemed to happen mostly to black people: black people just going about their business.
Have you ever called the cops to do something that was normal (and not illegal) in your life? If so, what was it? If not, are these examples surprising?
Implicit racism in Chicago media
Building on and developing theories of “colorblind racism,” the authors examine the process by which the news media supports and validates the devaluation of black and Hispanic lives through ostensibly race-neutral language, storylines, and cultural narratives. Based on the original data set, which includes all news articles (n = 2,245) written about each homicide victim (n = 762) in Chicago, Illinois, in 2016, the authors use multilevel models to estimate the magnitude of victim race and neighborhood race. . composition is associated with the level of attention or “news value” given to their death. Using two measures of newsworthiness—volume of coverage and recognition of “complex personality”—the authors find that homicide victims in predominantly black neighborhoods receive less news coverage than those murdered in non-Hispanic white neighborhoods. Those killed in predominantly black or Hispanic neighborhoods are also less likely to be discussed as multifaceted complex people. Our analysis highlights the importance of place, particularly the racialization of place, in determining which victims are considered important.
Here’s another example of different news coverage:
two sociologists recently publishedda study that looked at a decade of March Madness broadcasts, and they found that sometimes racial bias sounds like this:
“It’s a tough matchup for JJ Redick on the glass. Redick isn’t known for rebounding. Tasmin Mitchell is much stronger, bigger and more athletic.”
“Of course we can highlight some of these larger comments that most people would consider racist,” says Dr. AS Rashawn Ray, who teaches sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park. “But what we’ve highlighted in many ways is the implicit biases and the subtle ways that race actually works when it comes to talking about some of these historical stereotypes, about what it means to be black and physically superior and at the same time intellectually inferior and, on the other hand, what it means to be lighter-skinned or white”.
Same action, different description
Dr. Ray and his co-author Dr. Steven Foy of the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley transcribed 52 men’s college basketball broadcasts, including 11 championship games. They looked at how broadcasters talked about players of different skin tones and whether there was racial bias.
5. How do the three examples above indirectly affect Americans who are perceived as black?
A great example of implicit racism (and white privilege) was highlighted on the TV show What Would You Do? You will be surprised how different the behavior of the two men is. Watch this video (embedded below).
Sociology of education and school discipline
Research by Edward Morris and Brea Perry has shown that school discipline for subjective offenses can be shaped by implicit bias. Read the summary and try to answer the question below. Please don’t rush. Either read it and actually attempt it or skip the question. See their research published in the ASA Journal here or here.
6. What conclusions have researchers made about who is punished and why in high school?
A girl like me
7. Where was there clear and implicit bias in the video?
The Police Officer’s Dilemma from the University of Colorado at Boulder
If minorities themselves can be socialized to make their race less desirable, then obviously the same can apply to everyone in the United States. This means teachers, doctors and also police officers. But because police officers are authorized to use deadly force, implicit bias has far more serious consequences when it comes to policing. TA study by Joshua Corell of the University of Chicago shows that unconscious bias accounts for the split-second differences between all people (not just police) who encounter a white person or a black person. Soc Images explains it here. You can try the study by clicking here for a link to the game and findings, or try clicking here to see the simulation.
In short, the bottom line is that we live in a society that teaches us all implicit bias. This includes the police and even other minorities.
For more on policing and bias, see
8. Do you understand how implicit bias can lead to more black men being shot by police than other groups? (And this is an acknowledgment that this is not anti-police, just being realistic about race in America)
Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan published a study on implicit bias and the labor market in The American Economic Review. Are Emily and Greg more employable than Lakisha and Jamal? An experiment in labor market discrimination?
Labor market and crime
From the NY Times, When Dissertation Makes a Difference shows not only how unconscious bias can influence hiring in the most unequal ways, but also how sociology can influence policy.
As a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin, Devah Pager studied the struggles of ex-prisoners trying to find work and came to the alarming conclusion that a white person with a felony conviction has an easier time getting a job than a black person with a clean record.
9. What evidence is there that implicit bias makes it harder for Americans who identify as black to get jobs than Americans who identify as white?
finally, this video is called Slip of the tongue uses slam poetry to explore how one girl is strong enough to embrace her identity without succumbing to societal pressure to change who she is.
To learn more about implicit bias:
Sometimes these subtle instances of racism are called “microaggressions.”
Look at the chart above and find the microaggression (from the middle column) that you said or said to you. What topic does it fall into? What message does it send?
And here are some perks that come with Christmas.
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