Racial bias is in the news lately, and I’ve come across a couple of articles that may interest you.
In the Stanford Magazine, Sam Scott offers “A Hard Look at How We See Race,” an article on Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt’s research on “subconscious connections in people’s minds between black faces and crime.”
In one experiment, participants were shown subliminal images of black or white faces, and then asked to identify a blurry image. Participants (regardless of their race) who were primed with subliminal images of black faces were able to identify a gun in the blurry image nine frames sooner than those who had been primed with images of white faces. The findings are disturbing, but what makes this article really worth reading is how Eberhardt is using her research to work with police departments and effect social change to reduce the effects of such unconscious biases on actual police practices.
This past Sunday, The New York Times ran a major feature on “The Disproportionate Risks of Driving While Black.” Journalists Sharon LaFraniere and Andrew W. Lehren examined thousands of police records of traffic stops and arrests in Greensboro, N.C., uncovering persistent racial disparities in police conduct. This article is of interest for several reasons: its relevance to our final unit on prisons and mass-incarceration; its focus on North Carolina, the state where you’ve chosen to pursue your college education, and on the city of Greensboro (only an hour away), home of the Woolworth’s counter that was the site of the first sit-ins in 1960, early in the Civil Rights movement; and its effective use of digital media and design (the online version is more compelling than the print version I read on Sunday).
I also managed to track down an editorial on “President Obama’s Department of Injustice,” which I read in the Charlotte Observer months ago, just after Obama commuted the sentences of dozens of federal prisoners. Alec Karakatsanis’s editorial provides upsetting evidence that the injustices Stevenson describes in Just Mercy are still occurring today.