Thanks as always for your thoughtful comments Dave Murray. I completely concur that what sells in the media is strife and angst. I haven’t watched tv new for 25 years for that reason. I haven’t read a newspaper for maybe 4, except on very rare occasion. I try to seek out a variety of perspectives with on-line sources, but it can be difficult.

I’m not entirely sure that I buy the extremist explanation. Racism and sexism are deeply woven into every aspect of our culture (in part because of the recent history of it being so overt and in part because of the nature of living in a dominance hierarchy) and even people who really don’t intend to hold those kinds of views quite often subconsciously do. Most racism, sexism, and homophobia is not the kind that extremists exhibit. Malcolm Gladwell, who is half Jamaican, talked about how disturbing his own subconscious racism was in his book Blink.

If as recently as 50 years ago we had laws where interracial marriage was illegal (due to the inferiority of Blacks), women could not get home loans or credit cards in their own name or go to Ivy League colleges (due to their inherently inferior status) then why do we imagine that those beliefs have substantially changed just because the laws and rules have? As I recently wrote in You Are Not An Individual, unless people have done the intentional and conscious work to deprogram themselves from cultural narratives they are quite often being run by them from behind the scenes.

“Upon publishing their landmark paper in 1998, the team described “a new tool that measures the unconscious roots of prejudice” that they said affected 90–95% of people.

Since then, countless studies have confirmed the power of racial biases to shape everyday decisions in almost every aspect of life. White job applicants were found to be 74% more likely to have success than applicants from ethnic minorities with identical CVs. University professors were found to be far more likely to respond to emails from students with white-sounding names. US doctors have been found to recommend less pain medication for black or Latino patients than white patients with the same injury. White participants in a study were found to perceive black faces as more threatening than white faces with the same expression.

Neuroscientists have uncovered brain regions involved in racial and gender stereotyping and shown that such stereotypes begin to form early in childhood. Recent work found that the brain responds more strongly to information about ethnic groups who are portrayed unfavourably, suggesting that the negative depiction of minorities in the media can fuel bias.

Scientists believe that stereotypes in general serve a purpose because clustering people into groups with expected traits help us navigate the world without being overwhelmed by information. The downside is that the potential for prejudice is hard-wired into human cognition.

The evidence is overwhelming that unconscious bias seeps into decisions that affect recruitment, access to healthcare and outcomes in criminal justice in ways that can disadvantage people from ethnic minorities.

However, at the individual level, the extent to which such biases are internalised and acted on varies widely and in complex ways. Life experience, such as dating outside your racial group or having a boss from a minority group, can strongly protect against holding negative stereotypes.”

Jennifer Richmond, I appreciate your response, but I still stand with Brene Brown that it is not the job of the oppressed to clean this shit up. When we as a society start taking ourselves on in behalf of those who have historically and currently are being marginalized and discriminated against, when we as a society apologize and take ownership of the wrongs, then the people who are hurt can stop talking so loudly. Until then, they have every right to continue speaking as loudly as they can. More on this when I write my longer response.

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Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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