I want to disagree about race without being disagreeable.
Michael Kelly

My fellow liberals have a way of using mushy terminology and provocative accusations. If the kind of racism and sexism being talked about are the “classical” kind, then you are probably right. Hood wearing, black hating, KKK white supremacist types who don’t believe women should vote are not running out technology industry. When thinking about racism and sexism in our culture, what is mostly being discussed (in the United States at least), are lingering social biases from the days when classical racism and sexism were a major problem. These biases may not be as obvious as classical racism, but there are some pretty good arguments why they have a pretty significant impact anyway. The problem with racial and sexual bias is that it is pretty hard to pin down. I will use a brief example of implicit bias to highlight my point.

In the 50’s through the 80’s, we were struggling with the lingering effects of classical racism and integration. In that time, black representation in the media was pretty negative. Newspapers and Nightly news focused heavily on “black” crime, movies and TV shows often caricatured the role of the black male as a gangster, thug, or buffoon. Now, things did get much better as representation got better, but, we ended up with two generations of people who were raised in a culture that stigmatized and presented black Americans as violent, unintelligent, thugs.

Now, we are smart people. We can recognize our biases and change how we behave so that we don’t discriminate. But it does take a little awareness and introspection. But without that introspection, I could make a decision that is discriminatory without me even being aware of it. If I were hiring for a job, for example, and I had a stack of resumes on my desk, I might subconsciously pick white sounding names over black sounding names because my instinct would be that the black sounding names might be less competent at the job. This, by the way, is exactly what happens and has been examined in several social experiments.

This is the kind of bias that good education and personal introspection can eliminate and, I think, is still worth rooting out in all areas of our society. Just how we go about doing that on a scale larger than the desire for personal embetterment though, I have no idea.

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