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American Denial

  1. American Denial By: Randi Hovey
  2. Jenee Desmond-Harris “Why so many Americans still deny racism exists when the evidence is everywhere”
  3. The Inspiration • An American Dilemma • Swedish sociologist Gunnar Myrdal (1944) • Hypocrisy of Jim Crow South • “How can a society that is so devoted to equality, justice, and equal opportunity both allow and enable a system of laws and practices that oppress a significant percentage of the population?” • Unconscious bias
  4. • Racial profiling – police violence • Educational inequality • Economic disparity • Incarceration crisis
  5. American Denial • Christine Herbes-Sommers and Kelly Thompson • Llewellyn Smith • Implicit bias (unconscious racism) • Common root of discrimination in modern society • Historic and Modern studies • Objectives • Raise the questions, “Why do I think this?/What are the consequences?” • Open conversation • Determine solutions for bias
  6. The Research • Mahzarin R. Banaji (Harvard) • Implicit and explicit memory applied to social constructs • Implicit Association Test (IAT) • ”a measure within social psychology designed to detect the strength of a person's automatic association between mental representations of objects (concepts) in memory.” • Controls for social-desirability bias
  7. The Research • Implicit Association Test (cont.) • Computer-based test of subconscious memory associations • Seven tasks • Categorization of stimuli into two categories using Black/White and various positive and negative words • Measures implicit memory using response latency • association-test.html
  8. The Research • Kenneth and Mamie Clarke • Black doll/white doll test (1940s) • Young children are asked to identify which doll represents certain adjectives • Children are then asked what doll they are • 1/3 of black children identify the white doll with positive adjectives • Faced with the question of what doll they are, they don’t want to identify themselves with all the negative adjectives they associated with the black doll. • Suggests internalized biases that effect racial minorities as well as dominant groups • May represent earlier evidence of implicit bias • Modern replications have found identical results
  9. Other Research • Test for implicit bias in medical care • Patients equal in all respects except skin color • Black men with identical symptoms are given blood pressure medicine much less often • Studies on employment bias • Identical resumes treated differently after race identification • Research on identification by teachers and officers • Black boys are deemed older and less innocent
  10. Conclusion • Asking people to think about racism in a way that is not apportioning blame • “It’s about how we are all victimized by the destructive ideas we’ve internalized … and how that affects the institutions we depend on.” • There is a significant capacity for denial in our culture • “…a lot of it is self-protective, but in the end a lot of the stuff that is self-protective is destructive to others and to society as a whole.”