I’ve been away: downed by the November election and the deaths of unarmed black men; lifted by Obama’s new mojo. Down and up.
People claim racism must be over because—look—we elected a black president. My father would have agreed—he turned off the television when Ed Sullivan shook hands with Nat King Cole.
Here are a few examples of what skin color can do to you in America.
- Identical resumes were sent out for job openings, half with stereotypical black names, half using white names. The white names received 50% more callbacks.
- Actual people, with identical resumes and interview training, were sent to apply for low-wage jobs. African-Americans with no criminal record were offered jobs at a rate as low as white applicants with criminal records.
- Doctors, shown statistically identical patient records, were asked to make judgments about heart disease. They were much less likely to recommend a helpful procedure to black patients.
- Whites and blacks were sent to bargain for a used car. Blacks were offered prices $700 higher.
- Emails using black names sent to apartment-rental ads on Craigslist got fewer responses than white names.
- White state legislators (of either party) were less likely to respond to constituents with African-American-sounding names
- Emails to faculty at universities asking for research possibilities were more likely to be answered if the names sounded white.
- On eBay, a photo of an iPhone being auctioned held by a white hand received 21% more offers than the same phone held by a black hand.
- In a video game simulation, players were asked to shoot at people carrying a gun. African-Americans were shot at more, even when they were not holding a gun.
Most of us would claim we are not biased. Our racism is insidious. Psychologiest Daniel Kahneman says we think both fast and slow. In our slow thinking, we try to avoid discrimination, but it creeps into our quick, unconscious decisions.