Skip to comments.Trayvon Martin and implicit bias
Posted on 08/05/2013 12:13:54 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
As we continue to struggle with the verdict in this murder case as the only juror of color states that George Zimmerman got away with murder and as the nation lurches through yet another tragic episode that forces us to deal with our racial legacy new ways of viewing race are surfacing.
Commentators suggest that the Department of Justice will have a difficult time prosecuting George Zimmerman because it will be nearly impossible to show that the shooting was motivated by racial animus in an intentional manner.
As I listen to these discouraging words, I think of psychological concepts articulated by Charles Lawrence, a legal scholar whom I greatly admire.
Several decades ago in his ground breaking article, The Id, the Ego, and Equal Protection: Reckoning with Unconscious Racism, Lawrence asserted that much of racial bias operates out of our conscious mind/brain. Mankind is hard wired to make split-second decisions based on limited information.
Early man and woman when seeing a form coming towards them from afar had to think: Is that Uncle Leo or a saber toothed tiger? Making the correct decision was a matter of life and death.
I have read that the brain processes 400 billion bits of information a second, but we are only aware of 2,000 of those. We do not have time to sort through and analyze all this information, so our brain and mind takes shortcuts.
Stereotypes are a way for the brain to take shortcuts. If the object coming towards pre-historic man or woman was only a couple of feet high, it was more than likely a tiger and not Uncle Leo. The fact that the object coming might be a short person or a child gets factored out because of the pressure of having to make a quick decision.
In the Trayvon Martin murder trial, the defense consciously or unconsciously used stereotypes about young Black men to great advantage. The infamous Juror B-37 said that Zimmerman was not racially profiling young Trayvon but was merely profiling him based on the fact that Black men had been involved with burglaries in that neighborhood.
One way to activate stereotypes in the brain is through priming. I am an attorney and not a psychologist, but my understanding of priming is that you evoke certain images that trigger a cascade of associations.
By showing Trayvon bare chested, the defense primed the jurors to think of him as a dangerous Black man. Social science research indicates that many white Americans associate Black faces with criminality and aggression.
Many Black men, including the president of the United States and Questlove, have come forward with heartbreaking stories of how they are viewed as threatening by their mere presence. Talk with any Black man in this country and he will have a story that tracks this perspective.
Devastating social science research
Social scientists have been studying these issues for decades. Unconscious bias. Implicit bias. We are learning that we all have biases about many things.
These views are often outside of our conscious minds. There is an important study called Are Jamal and Lakeisha as Employable as Brandon and Emily. The authors of the study took identical resumes and put Black sounding names at the top of one set of resumes and white sounding names at the top of the second set.
The resumes with white sounding names got more call backs and offers of employment. When the qualifications of the applicants with Black sounding names were more stellar than the qualifications of the applicants with white sounding names, the whites still fared better.
Social scientists have been studying these issues for decades. Unconscious bias. Implicit bias. We are learning that we all have biases about many things.
Yet, if you asked the decision-makers if they harbored racial prejudice, they would assert and believe in their hearts of hearts that they were colorblind. They would tell you about their Black friends. They would accuse you of being overly sensitive. They would assert that we have a Black president and that we are in post-racial America. They would tell you that they are tired of talking about race and that if you pesky Black folks would just stop harping on perceived injustice, the problem would go away.
I heard that a poll taken this week indicates that white folks by 54 percent feel that race relations are just fine. Only 19 percent of Black folks agreed! This is more evidence that we live in at least two radically different realities.
George Zimmerman and implicit bias
There is an amazing video that my new friend, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Bennett (Northern District of Iowa), shared with a number of us who attended a mind science conference at Northwestern Universitys Law School this past April.
The premise is as follows. There is a bicycle chained to a fence. Three different individuals openly and quite brazenly use bolt cutters to try to cut the chain and take the bike. These three individuals assert that the bike is not theirs, but they want it.
The first scenario involves a young white man. He is asked questions about what he is doing by passersby. He boldly states that the bike is not his but that he wants it. Many people stop by.
The second scenario involves a Black man. Within moments, passersby are calling the police, are taking his picture with their smart phones and are generally quite vocal in expressing their dismay at this criminal behavior.
The last bicycle thief is an attractive white woman. Not only are there no calls to the police, but some men actually stop to help her liberate the bike, much to the chagrin of their girlfriends. This experiment speaks to how our internalized views of Black folks as opposed to how we see white folks color our reactions.
This reality was at play that dreadful night when George Zimmerman murdered young Trayvon Benjamin Martin, as his dear mother calls him. Those fking punks get away with it all the time. His stereotypes about young Black men were triggered.
The jurors were primed to agree with this. The fear that many white people have about Black men was triggered and given credence. The judge handcuffed the prosecution by not allowing obvious racial profiling to be part of the analysis of the case.
The prosecution was more accustomed to dealing with Black defendants and was not equipped to adequately prosecute the case. Their handling of the testimony of the teenager Rachel Jeantel evidenced unfamiliarity with Black folks and how we sometime communicate.
Can the Department of Justice make it right?
To come full circle, I wonder if the Department of Justice can introduce notions of implicit bias to explain why George Zimmermans actions were motivated by negative views of Black people.
This is obviously a new area of law, but it tracks how racism plays out in the 21st century. One commentator described the current state of affairs as racism without racists. No one thinks they have any racial animus anymore. This is a good thing. We are at the place in our development as people where most people think that racism is a bad thing. The sad reality is that structural racism and racial bias still exist.
I wonder if the Department of Justice can introduce notions of implicit bias to explain why George Zimmermans actions were motivated by negative views of Black people.
I do not have expertise in how to plead and prove a case against Mr. Zimmerman using implicit bias concepts, but I feel it would be helpful for the body politic to have to face how racism manifests itself today.
Tony West, our good Bay Area brother, was confirmed yesterday as associate attorney general. I will be in touch with him about this approach.
Debiasing: a ray of hope
My organization, the Equal Justice Society, has been fortunate enough to be part of two very important gatherings focusing on mind science one at Harvard Law and the other at Northwestern Law.
We learned that social scientists, including Dr. Trish Devine at the University of Wisconsin and Dr. Nilanga Dasgupta at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, are working on ways for us to rewire our brains so that we do not make decisions based on stereotypes and implicit bias.
My friends, the therapist Mara Romanak and her husband Paul, gave me The Brain That Changes Itself, a book by Dr. Norman Doidge. The book talks of the neuroplasticity of the brain and gives examples of how peoples brains and minds have been rewired and have overcome physical problems. If the brain is this agile in the physical realm, I am confident that we can rewire our brains and minds to view all people in more objective ways that involve less unacknowledged bias.
Ever the optimist, I feel we can heal ourselves of this racial sickness.
Eva Jefferson Paterson
Eva Paterson is president and co-founder of the Equal Justice Society. Now in its 13th year, the Equal Justice Society is a national legal organization focused on restoring constitutional safeguards against discrimination. Our goal is to help achieve a society where race is no longer a barrier to opportunity. Specifically, EJS is working to fully restore the constitutional protections of the 14th Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause by replacing the Intent Doctrine with a Disparate Impact standard that addresses contemporary forms of racism. Learn more at equaljusticesociety.org.
Implicit bias - yep. George Zimmerman was “white” so he must have killed Travon Martin out of sheer hate. Sure looks like implicit bias to me.
I can’t get enough of these crybaby whines from liberal race-hustlers.
there is plenty of racial animus. Look for it in Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Obama.
“Equal Justice Society”?
And just what is this and who funds it?
Not to mention what a biased, ignorant fool this woman is
Shameful . . but just keep on spittin out the company line, baby. You’ll never think for yourself anyway.
Thousands of young black men are gunned down in cities across America every year. Yet one isolated incident where a young black man was shot dead in some non-descript Florida locale nobody ever heard of becomes the media sh**storm of the year. Why? Because the shooter in this case was white. Oops... A “white Hispanic”. Close enough.
Across America guilty white liberals and race hustlers are outraged, disgusted, and feeling pity for Trayvon Martin’s mother. Meanwhile, thousands of other mothers won’t even get the time of day from the guilty white liberals, the race whores, or the scumbag Democrat “mainstream” newsrooms. Nobody even knows their names. If only their sons had been shot by a “white Hispanic”...
Welcome to Ubama’s “post racial” America.
non-blacks ‘common sense’ == blacks ‘implicit bias’
after reviewing trayvon’s behavior that night around the houses, casing them, and then knowing his burglary past, his fighting history, it confirms that non-blacks ‘common sense’ about blacks ought to be listened to.
Before we can “de-bias” and “re-wire” our brains and no longer profile, some folks are going to need to stop fitting the profile.
Otherwise those “wires” will be re-routed once again in short order...
I'll leave the whole “murdered” thing alone...
That juror apparently didn’t actually say that GZ got away with murder, though...
SO this must be the opposing view of that “Angry Black Man”
such intellectual diversity they have NOT
This stuff will get a lot less humorous if George Zimmerman is injured or killed.
And Trayvon had no biases and only had love for those white crackers?
Just more Black Ku Klux Klan Racism....
I am so tired of the Black Racists whining over a Miami Ghetto Thug who got capped while assaulting another person
Thanks for the reminder of that Slate link and the sleazoid “journalism” practiced in the ABC News editing suites.
George Zimmerman’s Brother: Trayvon Martin Skeletons Coming Out in Civil Trial
Well, most every word out of Obama's mouth is a lie - that's all he ever did was hang out with non-blacks. This is obviously taken from his "move to the other side of the street when you see a black man walking" spiel.
He's a liar and a manipulator - has been since he was taught this by mentors unknown.
As for Questlove, I have no earthly idea who that is, nor care to.
I had an interesting experience yesterday. I took my daughters to eat at a Steak and Shake restaurant. The service was terrible. There was no one else in the restaurant, which should have been our first clue. We sat down and waited 15 minutes just to order drinks. The waitress had trouble getting our order correct, the food was slow in coming and it wasn’t right but we ate it anyway. Waited for the waitress to come back because we wanted shakes for dessert. She never came back so we paid out and left, never to return. One important note: the entire staff was black so I was afraid to complain, I would have been labeled a racist. It couldn’t have been the service, I was just a racist. Detroit, I’m looking at you....
This link, right side of pages shows their sponsors.
My guess is that they’ve omitted a lot of grants they’ve gotten from Obama and Holder.
Trayvon Martin has shown the whole country (including white, drug-induced liberals) how our black youth are being raised. No getting around it. And it is not whitey’s fault. It is black mama and daddy’s fault.
Racism or recurring past experience with the same outcome? Change the behavior, change how you are viewed, and stop making excuses for it. Thats how you get people to stop viewing you as criminals / thugs.
The regime and the media set the premise for the trial narrative and their presentations ignoring the setting where the incident took place..
An area having a “Neighborhood Watch”. If some of those so called conservative talk show hosts had interviewed guests who run such watches they would have exposed the regime and the media for the frauds they are. Particularly a “gated” neighborhood watch.
When you enter one of these and start wandering around no matter if you are white, blue, red, green, or black. You can be asked your purpose for being there. You are on private property. And yes those on patrol can and do leave their vehicle and follow on foot if they lose sight of the person they’re observing..That’s the Neighborhood Watch Captain’s a fancy name that’s really a security guard’s job. .
Since the Zimmernan not guilty verdict has been rendered, the facts of this case are still being shamefully being concealed by the media to the extent they are advancing and are complicit in permitting a putrid injstice to be committed of the worst order,organized and instituted by our governent.While denied. It began as a miscalculation when a surname of a Jewish origin shot up and lighted the heavens like a star shell in the darkest of nights.
It would have been difused if the media used pictures of both side by side because they look like cousins. And the area where this occured of paycheck to paycheck struggling homeowners of all races trying to protect themselves had been reported and not some ritzy all white enclave.they portrayed..
Worse yet the media is still pilling it on with ABC editing a a black jury members (remember when they were all white)t remarks to make it sound like she accused Zimmerman of murder which has been used by this writer in this newspaper,
Its the second time this President of the United States has interjected himself into a confrontation between those in authority on legal grounds reasonably questioned and released someone involved in a curious activity in a patrolled area. Could this attitude be based from the idealized communist concept that there is no such thing as “private” property because the state (collective) owns the land ? .
Obama is demonstrating that he and the socialists can whip up the black population to create civil strife should it be necessary if congressional investigating bodies get too close to impeachment time at a moments notice . That includes; Bengahzi, IRS,EPA, MSA, Windgate,solar panel gate, and yet untouched travelgate 2. And congress has gotten the message by treading lightly.
The result as we have seen is that another marxist axiom (division) has been implemented which has resulted with gangs of black youths murdering happless whites who happen into areas usually where a black population is the majority. Those media outlets who by their delberate misuse of the instrument of the 1st amendment are just as complicit in those deaths as the regime is. And that includes Ms Paterson and The San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper.
Like "Ebonics," or an inability to learn "cursive?" Or maybe pronouncing 'ask" as though it were written "ACKS," just because it's slightly easier, implying phenomenal, mind-boggling tongue-laziness?
My mind sorts through several million options in a couple-thousandths of a second, but then, I'm not a "Liberal," am I? Speak for yourself there, Buffalo Gal.
As my great-uncle Henry used to tell me, "Yes, Billy. All men are created equal. But 20 years later, there are some pretty glaring differences..."
With really odd facial coloration, at that.
They got affirmative action up the wazoo. WTH is she complaining about!!! Blacks are spoiled rotten here with affirmative action opportunities. If they are too discombobulated to take advantage of them for jobs and eduction then it’s not my fault or the whites fault or any Asians here who blacks are usually insanely jealous of because many immigrate here with a pittance and make good lives for themselves and their children who get into college and do well in general.
Asians children can come here knowing zero or minimal English and do great in school and university. So much for accusations of racism by blacks
And what implicit bias did this genius discover in the actions of Trayvon, and in the very detailed testimony of Rachel Jeantel where she described their speculations about Zimmerman and his possible motives?
The logic she uses in this piece is poor. From the general to the specific, without the aid of any evidence against GZ.
My wife, a school teacher, has only one question for Dr. Patterson, J.D.: “In the Martin/Zimmerman encounter, who threw the first punch?”
In other words, this nitwit now wants to convict Zimmerman not on any facts of racism, but unconscious racism. This goes beyond thoughtcrime. You are now guilty of thoughts you don't even have, because you're white.
“There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery - then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.” Jesse Jackson
I blame the White Devil that invented light bulbs for the poor lighting in that photo!
I agree that new views on race are surfacing. White guilt is quickly evaporating, and many people are becoming more comfortable on pointing out the black community's extreme tribalism. Further, many people are beginning to understand that genetics does play a role in group dynamics and group outcomes.
I’d never wait fifteen minutes to order drinks, I’d have been outta there after about five.
We are going to need something like the post-WW-II Denazification program for demoKKKrats...
It wasn’t right because they probably spit in it and did other things to it.
Trayvon posted that same picture on social media accounts, so the young thug clearly thought of himself as dangerous and wished others to think of him that way as well. Thanks for confirming that, Eva.
It would be DANGEROUS for us to short-circuit our “profiling” circuitry in favor of taking the time to evaluate each individual or situation to determine danger to ourselves or families.
In order to make this natural and healthy “profiling” work in your favor, if you are being unfavorably profiled, is to change the reason that the data favors such unfavorable profiling.
It would be a different story if the information weren’t based on truth. That could be “educated” out of us.
As it is, the society/left is trying to “educate” us against the truth.
There is a valid point there. Unfortunately the word prejudice has been rendered useless for understanding the broader concept by its almost universal equivalence with racism.
As mentioned our ancestors that survived didn’t wait around to see what was coming toward them in the bushes. Running was a prejudiced act. Any automatic act is an act of prejudice. It’s how we get through life without thinking about every little thing.
Prejudice is any action or decision without thinking about the facts. Even unlocking, getting into and starting your car in the morning may be a prejudiced act.
Every person alive unconsciously uses prejudice. It’s probably in our DNA.
I highly recommend the book, “The Nature of Prejudice” to those that want to confound racebaiters and their sympathizers.
For the word “implicit,” substitute “imaginary” and you have a more accurate picture.
It's OVER so lets move on with the important issues of today like getting odumbo, Holder and the rest of their ilk impeached.
Surely not, I was never ugly to anyone and still left a generous tip. I just won’t go back.
Not surprising. Far left on everything and slurping from taxpayers and “foundations” and those with a vested interest in racial pandering.
I know people like this woman and there’s no way they could get a real job in the real world.
Thirteen murders in my Parish this year, so far (used to be less than six per year). All of them committed by young back men (17-19).
Last one was down the street. The kids offend a relative for about $1,200 in payroll.
So Zimmerman used this ‘implicit bias’ to determine that the person beating him to death was not a friendly, but ‘one of them’ and then he murdered the guy he just profiled.
Yeah, that’s the ticket.
So Mr. Zimmerman is guilty of illegal thoughts based on the color his skin would be if he was a Jewish Zimmerman.
And we can profile a person’s thoughts based on his assumed skin color.
And profiling is a bad thing.
The rules keep changing, don’t they?