Nov 24, 2008

Nobody's fault

Phillip Goff, a UCLA professor and psychologist, is working with the Denver Police Department on ways to lessen or eliminate racial and gender bias in its ranks. Goff is considered an expert in something called "racism without racists."

Say what?

Goff explained the "racism without racists" philosophy to Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times back in October:
“When we fixate on the racist individual, we’re focused on the least interesting way that race works,” said Phillip Goff, a social psychologist at U.C.L.A. who focuses his research on “racism without racists.” “Most of the way race functions is without the need for racial animus.”
The Kristof column continues:

John Dovidio, a psychologist at Yale University who has conducted this study over many years, noted that conscious prejudice as measured in surveys has declined over time. But unconscious discrimination — what psychologists call aversive racism — has stayed fairly constant.

“In the U.S., there’s a small percentage of people who in nationwide surveys say they won’t vote for a qualified black presidential candidate,” Professor Dovidio said. “But a bigger factor is the aversive racists, those who don’t think that they’re racist.”

Faced with a complex decision, he said, aversive racists feel doubts about a black person that they don’t feel about an identical white. “These doubts tend to be attributed not to the person’s race — because that would be racism — but deflected to other areas that can be talked about, such as lack of experience,” he added.

So, we have one professor who uses the phrase "racism without racists" to describe why bias persists despite a general belief that we are not racist people, and another professor who uses the term "aversive," which means causing avoidance of unpleasant things, to explain the same phenomenon.

My guess is that Goff's language gets you in the door of places like the Denver PD while Dovidio's language is more honest.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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