Blog Against Racism Day

I find other people’s overt racism deeply offensive. On the other hand I score rather badly on the race version of the Implicit Association Test which is supposed to measure unconscious bias.

I don’t think the test result means that the offended reaction is any less genuine, but it does suggest it’s not the whole story. A strong social taboo against overtly racist behaviour is a good start, but it’s only a start.

Blog Against Racism Day

3 Comments

  1. 2 December 2005 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    Well, like I’ve said before, the IAT probably measures anxiety or discomfort with black people*, rather than actual hostility. And implicit measures are usually uncorrelated with self-report measures of racism. People who score as “racist” on implicit measures of racism, while deploring racism on a conscious level, are usually sincere in their desire to be egalitarian. But when they actually meet a person of color, they’re looking at the floor and shuffling and coughing rather more often than is strictly speaking necessary. People whose scores on the IAT suggest that they are not racist towards black people usually either are black themselves, or spend a lot of time with black people — everyone else gets their unconscious associations about race straight off the television, where black people are portrayed as criminals or basketball players, usually.

    (*And I’m talking about black people, rather than racism towards other groups, because most, though not all, of the IAT racism research has been done by white American scholars about racism against black Americans.)

  2. Harry
    2 December 2005 at 1:22 am | Permalink

    Yes, I know. But still.

    There are so many nuances, as well, in the ways that class, gender, age, culture and so on affect the way we respond to people. Class particularly, perhaps.

  3. Harry
    2 December 2005 at 1:41 am | Permalink

    I think the most useful and interesting posts for this sort of event are the very personalised ones. But I have no intention of indulging in auto-psychoanalysis in public. So my post was a compromise between mouthing completely abstract platitudes and actually saying something about myself.

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