Race in America

This is one of those New York Times trend pieces that’s wholly anecdotal and for that reason a bit dubious. (Though unlike others, it’s not just interviews with people NY journalists are likely to bump into at parties.) The trend it suggests is one that fits with the evidence on implicit bias— white people being more friendly to black people now that there’s a really prominent highly admired black person who they’re seeing images of all the time. Reading the article was both disturbing and hopeful (on the assumption that there’s a real trend here). Disturbing (and depressing) to read of a black man being called ‘sir’ and treated with respect on a regular basis for the first time. Disturbing (and depressing) to read white people saying that now they feel they have something to talk about to black people so they’re now able to make conversation (WTF!?) and happy that they can do this. (Though this may be a kind of rationalisation offered when the guy in question is asked to reflect on his new-found friendliness to black people.) But hopeful in that at least some changes may be taking place. Maybe. (Thanks, Mr Jender!)

2 thoughts on “Race in America

  1. I’ve thought about this off and on, but today it suddenly hit me that there’s quite possibly a common cause here, with one effect reinforcing another.

    I don’t think that we should lose sight of the fact that a lot of these people voted for a black president. What we might see in part in the article, then, is another expression of what made that possible. People can be motivated to change, but not have much in the way of ideas about how to change.

    Which is not to deny the role of biases.

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