PRRAC Poverty & Race Research Action Council
Home About PRRAC Current Projects Publications Newsletters Resources Contact Us Support PRRAC Join Our Email List

"Implicit Bias: A Forum"

September/October 2011 issue of Poverty & Race

The insight that we are all, in different ways, subject to “unconscious” or “implicit” bias is a continuing theme in modern anti-discrimination theory, even though it is still largely ignored in civil rights legal jurisprudence. Tracing back at least to Charles Lawrence’s path-breaking 1987 article “The Id, the Ego, and Equal Protection: Reckoning with Unconscious Racism,” the concept has gained momentum in recent years with research results from the “Implicit Association Test” and the increasingly sophisticated use of racial images in political advertising. For proponents of using the research in legal advocacy (political and litigation), it offers a possible strategy to garner support from those who are skeptical that racial bias continues to exist. The theory is also thought by some to allow for a more open and less defensive discussion about race. At the same time, there are those who believe that placing too much emphasis on implicit bias undermines the more important project of addressing structural discrimination and its outcomes; that it lets people off the hook for their conscious racist views; and that it is a potential trap for anti-discrimination law. The forum that follows presents several aspects of this debate from some of the leading proponents and critics of the implicit bias approach. We hope that the discussion will shed some light on this important issue.

Join Our Email List
Search for:             
Join Our Email List