During the Presidential Nominee Debate that took place on September 26, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, when asked about police brutality against minorities, mentioned how most people in America have implicit biases. This reference caused an uproar of anger amongst conservatives, who viewed her statement as calling everyone in America racist, which is not true.
The Stanford Encyclopedia defines implicit biases as “relatively unconscious and relatively automatic features of prejudiced judgment and social behavior.” These biases impact our everyday lives, from health care services to police interactions. A study published on Kirwan Institution’s website shows that pediatricians that show pro-white biases, are more likely to prescribe white children with painkillers as they are a black child who is suffering from the same illness/pain. Another study published on the same website “explored the connection between criminal sentencing and Afrocentric features bias, which refers to the generally negative judgments and beliefs that many people hold regarding individuals who possess Afrocentric features such as dark skin, a wide nose, and full lips. Researchers found that when controlling for numerous factors (e.g., seriousness of the primary offense, the number of prior offenses, etc.), individuals with the most prominent Afrocentric features received longer sentences than their less Afrocentrically featured counterparts.”
Harvard released an online series of tests, in which one can discover their own implicit biases towards many different issues (white/black bias, female/male bias, fat/skinny bias, etc.). Upon completion of the test, individuals can choose whether or not they would like their information to be released to Harvard’s research group.The tests first ask a series of demographic questions, which helps the researchers later on in documenting and reviewing the information. These tests have been taken by over two million people and have revealed that a large majority of white America does have implicit biases disfavoring black Americans. It is important to note, as The Washington Post revealed, that this study was taken primarily by young, liberal students, so this information is not accurate to America as a whole. However, other research shows that older Americans tend to be more biased than younger Americans.
So what does this mean? Biases are not set in stone, however, one cannot change the biases that they have if they do not know of them. An article published in late 2014, discussed the impact that these implicit biases have upon police brutality towards black Americans. These cops may not know, or even believe, that they implicitly disfavor black individuals when compared to white individuals, but the truth is that they probably do, since a majority of Americans do. However, if more Americans were encouraged to learn about their own implicit biases, and not just refute them, the world might change just a little bit more for the better. A large portion of white America likes to believe that they are not racist and do not hold racist beliefs towards non-white Americans, however, as these statistics show, they probably do to some degree. Yet, if they never realize the slight biases that they have they can never change them.