Implicit vs Explicit Racism

Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 5.16.30 PM.png

Table of Contents

Explicit vs Implicit Racism
Racial Biases vs Stereotypes
Overcoming Racial Stereotypes
Stereotype Threat & Racial Imposter Syndrome
Racial Bias
Types of Racial Biases
Internalizations From Implicit Racism
Understanding Your Own Implicit Racism

Explicit vs Implicit Racism

Explicit Racism

According to Quianna Canada,

“Explicit racism is overt and often intentional, for it is practiced by individuals and institutions that openly embrace racial discrimination and hold prejudicial attitudes toward racially defined groups, which they assume to be scientifically identified through genetics.”

Examples of Explicit or Overt Racism

  • Hate groups (KKK, Neo Nazi, Alt-Right, White Nationalist)
  • Political groups that publicly attack non-white people (Trump, Tea Party)
  • Using a racial slur against a non-white person
  • Publicly and consciously supporting racism
  • Racist jokes

Implicit Racism

According to Quianna Canada,

“Implicit Racism, however, is not the opposite of explicit racism but a different, yet no less harmful, form of racism.  Implicit racism, broadly defined, refers to an individuals’ utilization of unconscious biases when making judgements about people from different racial land ethnic groups.  According to a number of observers, implicit racism is an automatic negative reaction to someone of a different race or ethnicity than one’s own.  Underlying and unconscious racist attitudes are brought forth when a person is face with race-related triggers, including preconceived phenotypic (relating to the observable characteristics of an individual resulting from the interaction of its genotype with the environment) differences or assumed cultural or environmental associations.”

Examples of Implicit Covert Racism

  • Unconscious fear, mistrust or judgement of non-white people from both white people and non-white people (often children)
  • Fear of black people that causes police to pullover, arrest and shoot unarmed black people more than white people
  • Biasness towards black people that cause juries to acquit white police officers responsible for the murder of black people and convict non-white people more often
  • Dismissing job and college applicants with non-white sounding names
  • Ignoring the racist platform of a conservative political party while voting for them based on issues that effect you directly
  • White Savior complex
  • Stereotypes in media that portray non-white people in a negative way
  • Refusing to date or fetishizing certain color of skins
  • Microaggressions

Brave New Films: Racism is Real

Back to Top

Racial Biases vs Stereotypes

Diffen: Bias vs. Stereotype

The difference between bias and stereotype is that a bias is a personal preference, like or dislike, especially when the tendency interferes with the ability to be impartial, unprejudiced, or objective. On the other hand, a stereotype is a preconceived idea that attributes certain characteristics (in general) to all the members of class or set.

If you think that all Asians are smart, or white men can’t dance, that is a stereotype. But if you hire an Asian for a job that also has an equally qualified black applicant because you think blacks are not as smart as Asians, you are biased.


Bias is a term used to describe a tendency or preference towards a particular perspective, ideology or result, especially when the tendency interferes with the ability to be impartial, unprejudiced, or objective.


A stereotype is a preconceived idea that attributes certain characteristics to all the members of class or set. The term is often used with a negative connotation when referring to an oversimplified, exaggerated, or demeaning assumption.

Mometrix: Bias and Stereotype

MIC: We All Have Racial Bias

Back to Top

Overcoming Racial Stereotypes

According to the Notre Dame: University Counseling Center

What Are Racial Stereotypes?

Racial stereotypes are automatic and exaggerated mental pictures that we hold about all members of a particular racial group. When we stereotype people based on race, we don’t take into account individual differences. Because our racial stereotypes are so rigid, we tend to ignore or discard any information that is not consistent with the stereotype that we have developed about the racial group.

How Do We Develop Racial Stereotypes?

We develop our racial stereotypes in a variety of ways. On a very simple level, it’s human nature to categorize people. It’s our way of making a complex world simpler. From an early age, we learn to place people and objects into categories. However, when we’re very young, we tend to put less of an emphasis on attributing values to these categories. As we grow older and are influenced by parents, peers, and the media, our tendency to label different racial groups as superior/good or inferior/bad increases significantly. Additionally, the less contact we have with a particular racial group, the more likely we are to have negative feelings about the group. Any negative experiences that we have with a member of a particular group will strengthen our racial stereotypes and create fears about particular races. Based on our fears, we develop an us-versus-them mentality that tends to be self-protective in nature. As a result, we miss opportunities to learn and thrive from our differences.

Are Our Racial Stereotypes Harmful?

Some people might say, “There’s no harm in having racial stereotypes or making racial or ethnic jokes based on stereotypes. People these days are so politically correct and should just loosen up. Anyway, there’s always a kernel of truth in every stereotype.” In some instances, all of the above might be true. However, in most cases, racial stereotypes are harmful because they ignore the full humanity and uniqueness of all people. When our perceptions of different races are distorted and stereotypical, it’s demeaning, devaluing, limiting, and hurtful to others. In some cases, people who are repeatedly labeled in negative ways will begin to develop feelings of inferiority. Sometimes, these feelings of inferiority can lead to self-fulfilling prophecies that perpetuate the stereotype. Racial stereotypes can also foster feelings of hate and aggression that might lead to a false sense of entitlement and superiority. For those individuals who have power, this can lead to their engaging in discriminatory and racist practices.

How Do We Overcome Our Racial Stereotypes?

Because of their harmful effects, we should make a real commitment to try to overcome our racial stereotypes. This can be achieved by first acknowledging that we’re human and that we do harbor racial stereotypes. Next, we should work to become more aware of our inner thoughts and feelings and how they affect our beliefs and actions. When we have a stereotypical thought about a racial group, we should follow it up with an alternative thought based on factual information that discounts the stereotype. We can obtain this factual information by leaving our comfort zones and exposing ourselves to people of different races. We should be willing to engage in honest dialogue with others about race that at times might be difficult, risky, and uncomfortable. We should also seek out media portrayals of different races that are realistic and positive. Attending churches, plays, concerts, and movies that celebrate diversity will also broaden our worldview. As we gain more awareness and knowledge about racial groups, not only will our racial stereotypes lessen, but we will also become better equipped to educate and challenge others about their racial stereotypes. As we change ourselves, we can elicit changes in others through our examples and the quality of our conversations. In doing this, we work to create a society in which all races are valued, appreciated, and embraced.

The History of Racial Stereotypes

Racial Stereotypes in the Media

Examples of Racial Stereotypes

VOX: White people keep calling the cops on black people for no reason. That’s dangerous.

Calling 911 means different things to white and black people.

NY Times: The Myth of the Criminal Immigrant

Screen Shot 2018-03-31 at 12.35.51 PM.png

“The Trump administration’s first year of immigration policy has relied on claims that immigrants bring crime into America. President Trump’s latest target is sanctuary cities.

“Every day, sanctuary cities release illegal immigrants, drug dealers, traffickers, gang members back into our communities,” he said last week. “They’re safe havens for just some terrible people.”

As of 2017, according to Gallup polls, almost half of Americans agreed that immigrants make crime worse. But is it true that immigration drives crime? Many studies have shown that it does not.

Immigrant populations in the United States have been growing fast for decades now. Crime in the same period, however, has moved in the opposite direction, with the national rate of violent crime today well below what it was in 1980.

In a large-scale collaboration by four universities, led by Robert Adelman, a sociologist at the State University of New York at Buffalo, researchers compared immigration rates with crime rates for 200 metropolitan areas over the last several decades. The selected areas included huge urban hubs like New York and smaller manufacturing centers less than a hundredth that size, like Muncie, Ind., and were dispersed geographically across the country.

Screen Shot 2018-03-31 at 12.36.28 PM.png

According to data from the study, a large majority of the areas have many more immigrants today than they did in 1980 and fewer violent crimes. The Marshall Project extended the study’s data up to 2016, showing that crime fell more often than it rose even as immigrant populations grew almost across the board.

In 136 metro areas, almost 70 percent of those studied, the immigrant population increased between 1980 and 2016 while crime stayed stable or fell. The number of areas where crime and immigration both increased was much lower — 54 areas, slightly more than a quarter of the total. The 10 places with the largest increases in immigrants all had lower levels of crime in 2016 than in 1980.

And yet the argument that immigrants bring crime into America has driven many of the policies enacted or proposed by the administration so far: restrictions to entry, travel and visas; heightened border enforcement; plans for a wall along the border with Mexico. This month, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against California in response to the state’s restrictions on local police to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers in detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants charged with crimes. On Tuesday, California’s Orange County signed on in support of that suit. But while the immigrant population in the county has more than doubled since 1980, overall violent crime has decreased by more than 50 percent.

There’s a similar pattern in two other places where Mr. Trump has recently feuded with local leaders: Oakland, Calif., and Lawrence, Mass. He described both cities as breeding grounds for drugs and crime brought by immigrants. But Oakland, like Orange County, has had increasing immigration and falling crime. In Lawrence, though murder and robbery rates grew, overall violent crime rates still fell by 10 percent.

In general, the study’s data suggests either that immigration has the effect of reducing average crime, or that there is simply no relationship between the two, and that the 54 areas in the study where both grew were instances of coincidence, not cause and effect. This was a consistent pattern in each decade from 1980 to 2016, with immigrant populations and crime failing to grow together.

Screen Shot 2018-03-31 at 12.37.19 PM.png

In a majority of areas, the number of immigrants increased at least 57 percent and as much as 183 percent, with the greatest increases occurring in the 1990s and early 2000s. Violent crime rates in most areas ranged between a 43 percent decline and a 6 percent rise, often trending downward by the 2000s. Places with a sharp rise in the immigrant population experienced increases in crime rates no more frequently than those with modest or no growth in immigration. On average, the immigrant population grew by 137 percent between 1980 and 2016, with average crime falling 12 percent over the same period.

Because the F.B.I. changed how rape was defined in its crime figures, that category could not be included in this analysis. Focusing on the other components of the violent crime rate — assaults, robberies and murders — still fails to reveal a relationship with immigration rates.

Screen Shot 2018-03-31 at 12.37.53 PM.png

Most areas experienced decreases in all types of violent crime. The change in assault rates ranged from a 34 percent decline to a 29 percent rise, while robbery rates declined in the range of 12 percent to 57 percent, and murder rates declined in the range of 15 percent to 54 percent.

This analysis is one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies of the local immigrant-crime relationship. It spans decades of metropolitan area data, incorporating places with widely differing social, cultural and economic backgrounds, and a broad range of types of violent crime.

Areas were chosen to reflect a range of immigrant composition, from Wheeling, W.Va., where one in 100 people was born outside the United States, to Miami, where every second person was. Some areas were home to newly formed immigrant communities; other immigrant pockets went back generations. Controlling for population characteristics, unemployment rates and other socioeconomic conditions, the researchers still found that, on average, as immigration increases in American metropolises, crime decreases.

The foreign-born data, which is collected through the census, most likely undercounts the numbers of undocumented immigrants, many of whom might wish to avoid the risk of identifying themselves. They are, however, at least partly represented in the overall foreign-born population counts.

This is not the only study showing that immigration does not increase crime. A broad survey released in January examined years of research on the immigrant-crime connection, concluding that an overwhelming majority of studies found either no relationship between the two or a beneficial one, in which immigrant communities bring economic and cultural revitalization to the neighborhoods they join.”

Everyday Feminism: 4 Racist Stereotypes White Patriarchy Invented to ‘Protect’ White Womanhood

Under patriarchy, women and gender non-conforming folks are systemically oppressed. But because of the intersections of race, class, dis/ability, sexual orientation, and other identities, not all women and gender non-conforming folks experience oppression in the same ways.  For example, while all women are objectified under patriarchy, the concept of white womanhood has a very different connotation than Black womanhood does.

In her book The Fair Sex: White Women and Racial Patriarchy in the Early American Republic, Pauline Schloesser traces some historical ideas about white womanhood. She explains that the idea of “the fair sex” directly tied white womanhood to domesticity and sexual purity.

These ideas emerge even more in the nineteenth century with the myth of the “Cult of True Womanhood.” “True Women” – which were limited to white, mainly upper class women – were expected to uphold the four virtues of piety, purity, submission, and domesticity. These “virtues” were directly tied to white women’s sexuality and ability to reproduce.

Dora Apel goes into this more in Imagery of Lynching: Black Men, White Women, and the Mob. She says, “White women where thus considered naturally superior because of the purity of their whiteness… [They are] assigned a single, undivided nature; she is a vessel for reproduction who remains somehow untouched by sexual drives.”

Because white women’s value was directly tied to their purity, it became the duty of white men to make sure they were pristine. White women were seen as objects whose only duty is was to continue the white race.

This myth was especially antiblack, and was used to demonize white woman/black man relationships in the 1900s. In Race Mixing: Black-White Marriage in Postwar America, Renee Romano talks about how this idea supported anti-miscegenation laws and fear of interracial relationships. She explains, “Whiteness was easily corruptible and blackness was all-consuming… The survival of the white race depended upon its women, who were designated as the guardians of white racial purity.”

These myths of “pure” white womanhood are obviously extremely harmful for white women. It creates a misogynistic where white women have very little agency, particularly sexually. However, this myth also negatively – and deeply – affects Men of Color.

Men of Color, especially Black men, have historically been coded as animalistic abusers and rapists when it comes to white women. This stems from the idea that Men of Color literally want to steal and sully the belongings of white men. In turn, it becomes the “duty” of white men to protect white women – not because they truly care about white women, but because white women are the property of white men.

A number of racist, cissexist stereotypes about Men of Color have emerged in contrast to “protecting” and “defending” white womanhood. These stereotypes, which are racialized and gendered biases against Men of Color, have led to emotional, mental, and physical violence.

As Sally Kitch explains in her book The Specter of Sex: Gendered Foundations of Racial Formation in the United States, “[V]iolence against men of color usually entailed explicit or implicit suspicious of sexual aggression, perversion, or intention; and implications that all competition between men of color and white men – over land or horses or sex – somehow threatened white manhood and white women’s virtue.”

Although the idea of white women needing “protecting” might sound old-fashioned, these ideas haven’t been left in the past. While all of these stereotypes have historical starting points that are very important, these ideas have continued on in the present. These stereotypes about Men of Color are ever growing and have continued a vicious cycle: Men of Color have literally been killed for white women.

I want to make it clear that this is not about playing “Oppression Olympics.”  I’m not saying that Men of Color necessarily suffer more than white women under patriarchy. This also isn’t to say that Men of Color don’t rape or assault women.  This is about creating a more nuanced understanding of how oppression is very much horizontal.

We know that patriarchy creates a system of toxic masculinity that negatively affects people of all genders, and is an extremely harmful system for boys and menBut when we look at how patriarchy creates a system of privilege and oppression, it can also be very easy to say, “all men benefit from patriarchy, and everyone else suffers under it.” Often, we don’t make nuanced connections about how one aspect of it can affect two seemingly very different communities.

While white women really have no say under patriarchy, it’s also important for us all to recognize how we can both be marginalized by a system and be complicit in it. White men haven’t been the only ones who perpetuate these stereotypes and harm Men of Color.

Historically, white women have been both proactive and apathetic to the violence that Men of Color face in their name. I know that I have personally heard a wealth of stories about white women crossing the street, clutching their purses, and locking their car doors when a Black or Brown man passes by.

We all need to confront these stereotypes because they cause harm on multiple levels. It’s not only about giving examples, but also understanding how these show up in our everyday lives. Men of Color like my brother deserve so much more than to be reduced to these myths. They deserve so much more than to look at themselves though these violent lenses.

Just a few of the stereotypes perpetuated to “protect” white womanhood are below:

1. The ‘Black Brute’

One of the most long-lasting stereotypes that’s been used to harm Black men is the myth of the “Black Brute.”

Most of the earliest references to this stereotype were created during the late 1800s. In Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880 – 1917, Gail Bederman explains that this stereotype was used to categorize Black men as inherently violent, uninhibited, and hypersexual. This stereotype, which is very similar to the Black Jezebel trope, was used to dehumanize Black men.

The “Black Brute” stereotype was mainly used as an explanation for why Black people needed to be kept enslaved – namely through perpetuating the idea that that Black men uncontrollably preyed on white women. White men saw themselves as the main line of defense to protect white womanhood and societal power.

As bell hooks explains in We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity, “[T]he black male body continues to be perceived as an embodiment of bestial, violent, penis-as-weapon, hypermasculine assertion.”

During Reconstruction and Integration, this stereotype became even more widespread: The myth of the “Black Brute” was often used as a catalyst for lynching and killing Black men throughout the United States.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett’s work, especially The Red Record, highlights that this stereotype was used to perpetuate mass killings. Emmett Till – a young Black boy who allegedly whistled at a white woman and then was savagely beaten and killed – is one of the most famous examples of this common occurrence.

Unfortunately, the stereotype of the “Black Brute” persists today in the media and in everyday occurrences. And this stereotype has also contributed to physical violence as well.

It was just one year ago that nine Black people were shot and murdered in a Charleston church. The killer explicitly stated that he killed them because “You rape our women, and you’re taking over our country, and you have to go.”

Although this stereotype is over 100 years old, it is still being used today to defend white womanhood. Black men are still seen as animalistic things that are incapable of anything but violence – and thus need to be killed because of it.

2. The ‘Yellow Peril’

Today, East Asian men are mainly stereotyped as effeminate, thus supposedly making them terrible sexual and romantic partners. While this stereotype has a long history in the United States, it’s not the only sexual stereotype that’s been used against East Asian men.

The stereotype of “Yellow Peril” emerged in two different time periods.  First, it was used against mainly Chinese men in the 1800s. It was used again mainly against Japanese folks during World War II.

During these times, East Asian men were coded as predatory foreigners whose main goals were to colonize Western Europe and the United States. And part of this fear of colonization included threats to white womanhood. White patriarchy perpetuated the idea that East Asian men would systematically rape and kill white women if they had a chance.

The “Yellow Peril” stereotype relied on the idea that East Asian sexuality was inherently violent. East Asian men were stereotyped as cunning men with insatiable desires. In Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People, Helen Zia quotes 1800s orator Horace Greely, who summed up these stereotypes by saying,  “The Chinese are uncivilized, unclean, and filthy… lustful and sensual in their dispositions.”

Propaganda was widespread to perpetuate these stereotypes. Chinese men were portrayed as men who strategically stole white men’s jobs and tricked white women; Japanese men were portrayed as warmongers and rapists.

One major example was the widespread tabloid articles in the late 1800s. They suggested that Chinese men were using opium to seduce and rape white women at alarming rates: Newspapers like The Hearst were “periodically frantic about an oncoming ‘Yellow Peril,’ with the Tong Wars in Chinatown as proof that Chinese were bloodthirsty, sneaky, and… lustful for white women.”

Another example is the actor Sessue Hayakwawa, a famous Japanese-American actor from the 1900s. Sessue was often fetishized and acted in roles where his sexuality was a threat to white female characters. His characters were often the epitome of the “Yellow Peril.”

This is important because as one of the only East Asian stars at the time, this was the kind of representation mainstream America had of East Asians. They perpetuated idea that East Asian men were all villainous and predatory. This urged on the violent stereotypes that white women needed protection from East Asian men.

3. The ‘Muslim Predator’

In the media, Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) people are often categorized as Muslim and Arab, whether or not folks claim either or both of those identities. MENA folks are homogenized, racialized, and treated interchangeably with no regard to the different peoples, cultures, and languages of these two regions.

In Race and Arab Americans Before and After 9/11: From Invisible Citizens to Visible Subjects, Nadine Naber explains that the media has “increasingly portrayed persons associated with the category ‘Arab/Middle Eastern/Muslim’ as not only culturally backward, uncivilized, exotic, or potentially dangerous, but also as potential enemies of the U.S.”

A recurring stereotype that is often used against Middle Eastern and North African men is the idea of the “Muslim Predator.” This stereotype claims that Muslim men want to destroy Western civilization, and that in their quest to do so, they will rape and kidnap white women.

The trope of the “Muslim Predator” can be found in many different media time periods, but was especially prominent in the early 1900s and again in the 1980s, due to colonization and war.

Lauren Michalak explains, “These 1920s films about the Middle East fall into two main groups. Most are exotic adventure melodramas set in the desert. In these, Arabs are associated with violence and sexuality – abducting white women or sweeping in hordes out of the desert to attack the Foreign Legion outpost.”

Because of white patriarchy, there is a fear that MENA men will take over the Western world and treat white women just as “savagely” as they treat MENA women. Regardless of the level of misogynistic violence happening in the United States, Non-Western people are categorized as uncivilized and dangerously sexist. MENA women need to be “saved.”

It’s not that white men particularly care about MENA women, it’s that they are scared that these MENA men will treat white women – the property of white men – just as violently.

Since September 11th, there has been an increase of this stereotype used in the news. Many conservative sources, for example, suggest that MENA refugees shouldn’t be allowed to enter the United States or European countries. These men are treated not only as potential terrorists, but also as rapists.

Again, we have a stereotype that is specifically racialized to cause violence. In this case, white women are used as the excuse to not only physically harm folks, but to create discriminatory laws.

4. The ‘Hispanic Criminal’

The stereotype of the “Hispanic Criminal” isn’t something that Donald Trump just made up, although it has certainly gained popularity due to him.

The idea that Latinos – specifically Mexican, Central, and South American men – are criminals and rapists has been perpetuated for a long time.

A major sexual stereotype about Latinos is that they’re suave lovers who can seduce anyone, especially white women. Another aspect of this stereotype is that Latinos specifically target white women in order to corrupt them. The trope goes that Latino criminals, usually drug dealers, kill white men and steal their women and money.

An important historical moment in the perpetuation of this stereotype emerged when weed was made illegal. During the 1930s, the Drug Enforcement Administration began to use racist propaganda. They said that most weed users were Black and Chicano men who would rape and murder their white neighbors.

Unfortunately, with growing rates of racism and xenophobia, this stereotype has only gained traction, even amongst “liberal” white women such as Amy Schumer. Media isn’t consumed in a vacuum. Racist jokes aren’t just tasteless; they perpetuate harmful ideas. Perpetuating violent stereotypes, even as jokes, simply normalizes them.

It not only makes it seem okay for everyone to “joke around” about racialized rape, but it also makes it difficult to have real, intra-community conversations about sexual assault.

When violent stereotypes are perpetuated about a community, these are the only characteristics attributed to folks. That makes it very easy to have a gut-reaction of “that never happens!” in order to dispel these stereotypes. When that happens, it can be very impossible for survivors of assault to speak their truth.

These stereotypes not only perpetuate violence against Latinos, but against all Latinxs.


These stereotypes are important to reflect on because intersectionality is important!

These stereotypes have not only been used in the past to perpetuate violence against Men of Color. They’re ever-present factors in how Black and Brown men navigate the world. The violence they face and their fears are very real.

It’s just like Audre Lorde said in Sister Outsider: “Some problems we share as women, some we do not. You fear your children will grow up to join the patriarchy and testify against you; we fear our children will be dragged from a car and shot down in the street, and you will turn your backs on the reasons they are dying.”

This is so important because it’s vital for us all to reflect on the ways that a system can oppress us, use us against others, and give us power.

It’s not only white men who perpetuate these stereotypes. These are ideas that we all internalize. My brother, and other Men of Color, shouldn’t have to make themselves smaller to “protect” you or themselves.

If you are a white woman, you need to analyze your complacency and your active participation in the violence done to Men of Color. This isn’t about guilt or placing blame. It’s about working in a nuanced way to dismantle an oppressive system that negatively affects us all.

Back to Top

Stereotype Threat & Racial Imposter Syndrome

Stereotype Threat

“Stereotype threat is a situational predicament in which people are or feel themselves to be at risk of conforming to stereotypes about their social group.” Wikipedia

APA:  Stereotype Threat Widens Achievement Gap

Reminders of stereotyped inferiority hurt test scores

“A growing body of studies undercuts conventional assumptions that genetics or cultural differences lead some students – such as African Americans or girls – to do poorly on standardized academic tests and other academic performances. Instead, it’s become clear that negative stereotypes raise inhibiting doubts and high-pressure anxieties in a test-taker’s mind, resulting in the phenomenon of “stereotype threat.” Psychologists Claude Steele, PhD, Joshua Aronson, PhD, and Steven Spencer, PhD, have found that even passing reminders that someone belongs to one group or another, such as a group stereotyped as inferior in academics, can wreak havoc with test performance.

Steele, Aronson and Spencer, have examined how group stereotypes can threaten how students evaluate themselves, which then alters academic identity and intellectual performance. This social-psychological predicament can, researchers believe, beset members of any group about whom negative stereotypes exist.

Steele and Aronson gave Black and White college students a half-hour test using difficult items from the verbal Graduate Record Exam (GRE). In the stereotype-threat condition, they told students the test diagnosed intellectual ability, thus potentially eliciting the stereotype that Blacks are less intelligent than Whites. In the no-stereotype-threat condition, the researchers told students that the test was a problem-solving lab task that said nothing about ability, presumably rendering stereotypes irrelevant. In the stereotype threat condition, Blacks – who were matched with Whites in their group by SAT scores — did less well than Whites. In the no stereotype- threat condition-in which the exact same test was described as a lab task that did not indicate ability-Blacks’ performance rose to match that of equally skilled Whites. Additional experiments that minimized the stereotype threat endemic to standardized tests also resulted in equal performance. One study found that when students merely recorded their race (presumably making the stereotype salient), and were not told the test was diagnostic of their ability, Blacks still performed worse than Whites.

Spencer, Steele, and Diane Quinn, PhD, also found that merely telling women that a math test does not show gender differences improved their test performance. The researchers gave a math test to men and women after telling half the women that the test had shown gender differences, and telling the rest that it found none. When test administrators told women that that tests showed no gender differences, the women performed equal to men. Those who were told the test showed gender differences did significantly worse than men, just like women who were told nothing about the test. This experiment was conducted with women who were top performers in math, just as the experiments on race were conducted with strong, motivated students.

What the Research Means

Psychologist and educators are, through this innovative research, coming to understand the true nature of one of the barriers to equal educational achievement. Although psychologists such as Steele, Aronson and Spencer concede that test-score gaps probably can’t be totally attributed to stereotype threat, the threat appears to be sufficiently influential to be heeded by teachers, students, researchers, policymakers and parents. At the very least, the findings undercut the tendency to lay the blame on unsupported genetic and cultural factors, such as whether African Americans “value” education or girls can’t do math.

Through careful design, the studies have also shown the subtle and insidious nature of stereotype threat. For example, because stereotype threat affected women even when the researchers said the test showed no gender differences – thus still flagging the possibility – social psychologists believe that even mentioning a stereotype in a benign context can sensitize people.”

Threat of Stereotypes | Social Experiments Illustrated | Channel NewsAsia Connect

Racial Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is defined as the feeling of inadequacy or phoniness that make one believe they are undeserving of success” BuzzFeedVideo

Imposter syndrome can also refer to

“when people with biracial and multi-ethnic identities feel like imposters of one or more of their identities because they don’t fit neatly into any one category.” DiversityEdu

Inside Higher Ed: Feeling Like Impostors

“Minority college students often face discrimination and report higher rates of depression and anxiety than their white peers — and there’s another factor that could exacerbate those feelings.

A new study out of the University of Texas at Austin and published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology suggests that the impostor phenomenon in some cases can degrade the mental health of minority students who already perceive prejudices against them.

Those who suffer from impostor feelings cannot grasp or believe in their successes, even if they’re high achieving — leading them to feel like frauds. In the 1970s, impostor syndrome was first considered a trend among women who were advancing professionally, according to the American Psychological Association. Many experts have discussed the influence of impostor syndrome on minority and female academics, though the University of Texas study focused on undergraduate students.

The authors surveyed 332 minority undergraduate students from a Southwestern university. The institution’s identity was shielded in the study to ensure student anonymity. Black, Asian and Latino students were included in the study. All the racial groups were represented relatively equally.

In three separate tests, the students were asked to evaluate their own competency — related to impostor feelings — how often they experience discrimination, and their mental health.

As the study authors predicted, black students who dealt with significant “impostorism” also reported higher levels of anxiety, as well as depression related to discrimination they perceived. Among Asian students, more impostor-related feelings were associated with increased depression and anxiety, but not related to any racism they perceived.

The authors could not explain why with Latino students, the trends essentially reversed — those Latino students with more impostor-related feelings didn’t suffer from much anxiety or depression. Those who did indicate they were anxious or depressed did not have many impostor-related thoughts.

The authors guessed that Latino students, hyperaware of certain stereotypes, did not internalize impostor-related feelings in the same way as other minority students. They also cited fatalism, a popular concept in some Latino cultures in which people believe they cannot control their destinies.

“It is possible that among this sample of Latino/a American students, having low impostor feelings was associated in some way to fatalism (e.g., ‘People are going to think whatever they want to about me and there is nothing I can do about it’),” the authors wrote.

The study’s findings led its authors to recommend that in counseling, clinicians should explore specifically if students of color are grappling with these feelings.”

Women Of Color Share Their Imposter Syndrome Stories

NPR: ‘Racial Impostor Syndrome’: Here Are Your Stories

“It’s tricky to nail down exactly what makes someone feel like a “racial impostor.” For one Code Switch follower, it’s the feeling she gets from whipping out “broken but strangely colloquial Arabic” in front of other Middle Easterners.

For another — a white-passing, Native American woman — it’s being treated like “just another tourist” when she shows up at powwows. And one woman described watching her white, black and Korean-American toddler bump along to the new Kendrick and wondering, “Is this allowed?”

In this week’s podcast, we go deep into what we’re calling Racial Impostor Syndrome — the feeling, the science and a giant festival this weekend in Los Angelesthat’s, in some ways, all about this.

Here’s how we got started down this track. A couple months ago, listener Kristina Ogilvie wrote in to tell us that “living at the intersection of different identities and cultures” was like “stumbling around in a forest in the dark.”

She asked, “Do you hear from other listeners who feel like fakes?”

Good question. So we took it to our audience, and what we heard back was a resounding “yes.”

We got 127 emails from people who are stumbling through that dark, racially ambiguous forest. (And yes, we read every single one.)

Here are excerpts drawn from a few of the many letters that made us laugh, cry and argue — and that guided this week’s episode.

Let’s start with Angie Yingst of Pennsylvania:

“My mother is a Panamanian immigrant and my father is a white guy from Pennsylvania. I’ve always felt liminal, like I drift between race and culture. When I was young (20s) and living in the city, I would get asked multiple times a day where I was from, where my people were from, because Allentown, Pennsylvania, clearly wasn’t the answer they were looking for … It always felt like the undercurrent of that question was, ‘You aren’t white, but you aren’t black. What are you?’

“But truthfully, I don’t feel like I fit with Latinas either. My Spanish is atrocious and I grew up in rural PA. Even my cousin said a few weeks ago, ‘Well, you aren’t really Spanish, because your dad is white.’ Which gutted me, truly. I identify as Latina. I identify with my mother’s culture and country as well as American culture. In shops, I’m treated like every other Latina, followed around, then ignored at the counter. I married a white guy and had children who are blonde and blue eyed, and I’m frequently asked if I’m the nanny or babysitter. And white acquaintances often say, ‘You are white. You act white.’ And I saltily retort, ‘Why? Because I’m not doing your lawn, or taking care of your kids? You need to broaden your idea of what Latina means.’ ”

Jen Boggs of Hawaii says she often feels like a racial impostor, but isn’t quite sure which race she’s faking:

“I was born in the Philippines and moved to Hawaii when I was three. … I grew up thinking that I was half-Filipina and half-white, under the impression that my mom’s first husband was my biological father. I embraced this ‘hapa-haole’ identity (as they say in Hawaii), and loved my ethnic ambiguity. My mom wanted me to speak perfect English, so never spoke anything but to me. After she divorced her first husband and re-married my stepdad from Michigan, my whiteness became cemented.

“Except. As it turns out, my biological father was a Filipino man whom I’ve never met. I didn’t find out until I tried to apply for a passport in my late twenties and the truth came out. So, at age 28 I learned that I was not half white but all Filipina. …

“This new knowledge was a huge blow to my identity and, admittedly, to my self esteem. ‘But I’m white,’ I remember thinking. ‘I’m so so white.’ After much therapy, I’m happy and comfortable in my brown skin, though I’m still working out how others perceive me as this Other, Asian person.”

Indigo Goodson’s mom is Jamaican and her dad is African-American. She wrote about the way people’s perceptions of her change based on where she lives:

“Culturally we grew up as Jamaican as two California-born black American children could have in the Bay Area. … We ate mostly Jamaican food (prepared by both our mother and father), our Jamaican family lived with us growing up, and it was my mother that told us Anansi stories and other tales or sayings popular in Jamaica.

” … Both my parents are black, so no one ever asked ‘What are you?’ … But then when folks would meet my mum they would say things like, ‘Oh I thought you were black!’ or ‘You do look Jamaican!’ And I would tell people I’m still black and clearly Jamaicans look like black Americans because we are both the descendants of enslaved West Africans. Now that I live in New York City, where if you’re black people assume you are first generation Caribbean, I often have to remind people that my dad is black American and so am I.”

Helen Seely is originally from California. She told us what it’s like for her to interact with different groups as a light-skinned biracial woman:

“White people like to believe I’m Caucasian like them; I think it makes their life less complicated. But I don’t identify as 100% white, so there always comes a time in the conversation or relationship where I need to ‘out’ myself and tell them that I’m biracial.

“It’s a vulnerable experience, but it becomes even harder when I’m with black Americans. It may sound strange — and there are so many layers to this that are hard to unpack — but I think what it comes down to is: they have more of a claim to ‘blackness’ than I ever will and therefore have the power to tell me I don’t belong, I’m not enough, that I should stay on the white side of the identity line.

“You know that question we always get asked? ‘What are you?’ Well, I still don’t know. I’ve never had an answer that I can say with confidence; I still don’t know what I’m allowed to claim.”

Natalia Romero echoes some of those feelings. Her family left Colombia for the U.S. when she was 9 years old, and she says that while she doesn’t consider herself white, she gets treated like she’s white all the time:

“My mother doesn’t speak English and so when I am home all we speak is Spanish and act like a bunch of rowdy, tight knit Colombians … I grew up experiencing what many poor young immigrants face — bad schools, hunger, poverty, a lack of resources — but eventually managed to pay my way through college and work now as a musician and teacher, often very white communities.

” … When people talk about the current political climate, they speak to me as if I were white, not someone who is terrified of the hatred of Latinx and Hispanic people, someone who walks around with my green card in my wallet, knowing that until I am a citizen (which I morally have a huge problem with) I am not safe. I exist and inhabit these white spaces, but my experience is not white. My experiences comes from being the sole English speaker in my house at age 9 and having to speak for my parents at the bank, at school, in apartments. My experience is from pretending my youngest sister wasn’t part of our family because the apartment complex only allowed 4 people to a 1 bedroom apartment and we couldn’t afford a 2 bedroom one. I come from a place where people speak poorly of Latinx people around me not realizing I am one … ”

Everyone’s story is different, and as is discussed on the podcast, we’re still learning how to talk about identities that fall outside of our traditional understandings of race in the United States. Luckily, for those who are confused, you’re in good company.”

Back to Top

Racial Bias

According to Look Different:

What it is

Racial bias is a form of discrimination, often unconscious, that results in the different and unequal treatment of racial groups.

How it Works

Racial bias happens in many different forms among all racial groups. For example, police are much more likely to pull over black drivers than white drivers – and black people, on average, receive longer jail sentences than whites for committing the same exact offense.

Why it Matters:

Research has suggested that racial bias negatively impacts treatment of people of color, even when biased individuals do not consciously feel any animosity towards people of color. Being aware of the many ways racial bias is expressed in society is an important strategy to challenging racism everywhere. When we allow bias to take root it can escalate, opening the door to prejudice and discrimination.

Ted Talks: Implicit Bias: Melanie Funchess

Back to Top

Types of Racial Biases

Racial Bias in Children

The 1940s “Doll Test” that was used in the Supreme Court Case that outlawed segregation, Brown v. Board of Education, as proof of implicit racial biases in segregated societies.  This test has been redone many times often with similar results

Racial Bias in Police

The Economist: Measuring racial bias in police forces

  • Young black boys/men, ages 15-19, are 21 times more likely to be to be shot and killed by the police than young white boys/men.
  • Blacks are less than 13% of the U.S. population, and yet they are 31% of all fatal police shooting victims, and 39% of those killed by police even though they weren’t attacking.
  • A 2007 U.S. Department of Justice report on racial profiling found that blacks and Latinos were 3 times as likely to be stopped as whites, and that blacks were twice as likely to be arrested and 4 times as likely “to experience the threat or use of force during interactions with the police.”

Source: The New Progressive: The Ultimate White Privilege Statistics & Data Post

Stanford Alumni: A Hard Look at How We See Race

Jennifer Eberhardt’s research shows subconscious connections in people’s minds between black faces and crime, and how those links may pervert justice. Law enforcement officers across the country are taking note.

The first time Jennifer Eberhardt presented her research at a law enforcement conference, she braced for a cold shoulder. How much would streetwise cops care what a social psychology professor had to say about the hidden reaches of racial bias?

Instead, she heard gasps, the loudest after she described an experiment that showed how quickly people link black faces with crime or danger at a subconscious level. In the experiment, students looking at a screen were exposed to a subliminal flurry of black or white faces. The subjects were then asked to identify blurry images as they came into focus frame by frame.

The makeup of the facial prompts had little effect on how quickly people recognized mundane items like staplers or books. But with images of weapons, the difference was stark—subjects who had unknowingly seen black faces needed far fewer frames to identify a gun or a knife than those who had been shown white faces. For a profession dealing in split-second decisions, the implications were powerful…

…Eberhardt’s message is not an easy one to hear, particularly for the many Americans who think racial discrimination is largely a thing of the past, or that they themselves would never treat someone differently because of race, or that racism is somewhere else.

In one study capturing how high the stakes are, Eberhardt and her colleagues analyzed two decades’ worth of capital murder cases in Philadelphia involving white victims and black defendants—44 cases in all. The defendants’ photographs were independently rated according to how stereotypically black they appeared.

The results of the research were startling. The half of defendants rated as the most stereotypically black were more than twice as likely to have received a death sentence as those in the other half. “No matter what we controlled for, the black defendants appeared to be punished in proportion to the blackness of their features,” she said.

In another study in 2012, commuters at a Bay Area train station were shown informational slides about the California prison system and then asked if they’d sign a petition in support of a proposed (and ultimately successful) amendment to lessen the severity of the state’s Three Strikes law, which gives mandatory life sentences to certain repeat offenders.

Approximately 25 percent of the state prison population at the time was black. But 45 percent of prisoners serving a life sentence under the Three Strikes law then were black. Commuters who saw a presentation in which 25 percent of the inmates depicted were black were almost twice as likely to sign the petition as were those shown a presentation in which 45 percent of the inmates were black.

The conclusion seemed perverse: Someone seeking to mitigate racial disparities in sentencing might be best served by not pointing them out. It’s not that the respondents were necessarily bigots or even bad people, Eberhardt says. But the reach of implicit bias, arising from America’s tortured racial history, from culture and from still pervasive inequities, is powerful, enduring and underrecognized, especially in the context of criminal justice.

Much of Eberhardt’s work has focused on revealing the wide-ranging consequences of those biases. Her research has shown that police—black and white officers alike—are more likely to mistakenly identify black faces as criminal than white faces; that people show greater support for life sentences for juveniles when they read about a case involving a black defendant than when the case involves a white defendant; and that words associated with crime can cause people to instinctively focus on black faces. A picture of post-racial America it is not.

Eberhardt - Gun

Photo: Courtesy Jennifer Eberhardt
In one experiment, subjects were subliminally shown black or white faces, then asked to identify a blurry image as it came into focus over 41 frames. On average, participants primed with black faces could identify a weapon nine frames sooner (middle-left) than those primed with white faces could (middle-right).”

Implicit Racial Bias in Court Cases

  • Blacks are 21% more likely to receive mandatory minimum sentences.
  • Blacks are 20% more likely to be sentenced to prison than whites.
  • Once convicted, black offenders receive sentences that are 10% longer than white offenders for the same crimes.

Source: The New Progressive: The Ultimate White Privilege Statistics & Data Post

  • A black person and a white person each commit a crime, the black person has a better chance of being arrested. Once arrested, black people are convicted more often than white people. And for many years, laws assigned much harsher sentences for using or possessing crack, for example, compared to cocaine. Finally, when black people are convicted, they are more likely to be sent to jail. And their sentences tend to be both harsher and longer than those for whites who were convicted of similar crimes. And as we know, a felony conviction means, in many states, that you lose your right to vote. Right now in America, as many as 13% of black men are not allowed to vote.

Source: 7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real


NY Times: To Curb Bad Verdicts, Court Adds Lesson on Racial Bias for Juries

“The classic courtroom scene of a witness confidently identifying an attacker by pointing toward the defendant is a moment that can make a powerful impression on a jury.

But it is an impression that most psychologists agree is unreliable, especially when the victim or other eyewitness and the defendant are of different races. And it has resulted in people going to prison for crimes they did not commit.

Six years ago, state court administrators gave trial judges in New York the option of telling jurors that in their deliberations, they may consider the unreliability of cross-racial identification.

The state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, went further in a decision issued on Thursday. It told judges that in criminal cases where the identifying witness and defendant appear to be of different races, the defense is entitled to have the jurors told about the unreliability of cross-witness identification if requested.

In the majority opinion, Judge Eugene M. Fahey cited mounting scientific evidence and criminal exonerations in concluding that the “the risk of wrongful convictions involving cross-racial identification demands a new approach.”

People generally have greater difficulty identifying someone of a different race than their own, a phenomenon that scientists have observed for more than a century. One analysis of 39 studies found that participants were one-and-a-half times more likely to falsely identify the face of a stranger of a different race.

Often, jurors do not perceive problems with how witnesses identify people of a different race. In a 2006 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, only 36 percent of over 1,000 jurors understood that cross-racial identification was less reliable than same-race identification, while nearly half believed they were equally reliable.

“The need for a charge on the cross-race effect is evident,” the court said, referring to the instruction. “The question becomes how this instruction is best given.”

The rule issued by the Court of Appeals on Thursday applies to all cases where a witness’s identification of the perpetrator is an issue and the instruction is requested by the defendant, who the judges said must appear to be of a different race than the eyewitness who identified him.

State courts in Hawaii, Massachusetts and New Jersey have instituted rules similar to the new one in New York, while courts in Washington State and Georgia, as well as federal courts in Detroit, Indianapolis and the District of Columbia allow an instruction, at the discretion of the trial judge.

Supporters of such an instruction said it was necessary to reduce the risk of wrongful convictions, which disproportionately affect black men.

The Innocence Project, a nonprofit legal group, said in a brief filed with the court that over 70 percent of the 353 convictions it has had overturned on DNA evidence involved misidentification. And of those, nearly half involve a defendant and a witness of different races. Black men were the defendants in more than 200 of the exonerations handled by the group.

Marne Lenox, who co-authored a brief on behalf of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., said the ruling sends “an important signal” across the country.

“This decision helps level the playing field and prevent future wrongful convictions, especially of defendants of color, based on scientifically dubious cross-racial identifications,” Ms. Lenox said.

As courts, legislatures and law enforcement agencies revisit the use of eyewitnesses in criminal cases, she said she hoped they would look to New York and “enact common-sense reform.”


The case that led to the decision involved a black man, Otis Boone, who was convicted of robbery solely on the testimony of two white men who said he robbed them of their cellphones in Brooklyn in 2011.

The victims, a teenager and a man in his 20s, said the robber approached them and asked for the time before snatching their phones out of their hands and fleeing. The older victim gave chase until the robber pulled out a knife and warned him to stay back. The younger man put up a fight, but the robber stabbed him in the back.

Both victims picked Mr. Boone out of a six-man police lineup. The teenager hesitated until he heard Mr. Boone say, “What time is it?”

In ruling that the defense was entitled to the identification instruction, the court ordered a new trial for Mr. Boone, whose original sentence of 25 years in prison was reduced to 15 by a lower appellate court.

The Brooklyn district attorney’s office said it was reviewing the court’s decision and weighing how to proceed.

The trial judge in Brooklyn had rejected Mr. Boone’s request for the cross-racial instruction, partly on the belief that the instruction should not be given to jurors if no expert had testified on the subject at trial. An appellate court agreed with the trial court, but chose to reduce Mr. Boone’s sentence.

Judge Fahey, of the Appeals Court, whose opinion was joined by four of the panel’s seven judges, wrote that the lower courts were mistaken.


Judge Michael J. Garcia agreed that the trial judge had erred in not allowing the identification instruction, but in a concurring opinion, said that his colleagues went too far in effectively making the instruction mandatory. He said requiring the instruction “creates a substantial risk of juror confusion and serves only to hinder, rather than aid, the jury’s critical fact-finding function.”

Judge Leslie E. Stein joined in the concurring opinion. Judge Rowan D. Wilson did not participate in the decision.”

Racial Bias with Voters

According to Everyday Feminist: Here’s Your Proof That White Americans Don’t Face Systemic Racism

For one, a startling number of Americans – 49% – think that “discrimination against whites” is “as big a problem as discrimination against” black people and other people of color. Research by The Washington Post corroborates this poll: “Whites now think bias against white people is more of a problem than bias against black people.”

Before you start blaming Trump supporters for these results, a recent poll of 16,000 Americans revealed that Clinton supporters, too, have some serious work to do. For example, 20% of Clinton supporters described Black Americans as “less intelligent” than White Americans. And, not so long ago, two Black women exposed the racism of “progressives” when they dared interrupt Bernie Sanders at a rally in Seattle.

This is a problem all across the board.”


Racial Bias in Schools

Black students represent 16% of student enrollment but:

  • they make up nearly 50% of suspensions
  • three times more likely to be suspended than white students even when their infractions are similar
  • black students represent 16% of student enrollment
  • black students are half as likely as white students to be assigned to gifted programs, even when they have comparably high test scores

Black Girls are suspended 6x more than white girls for similar offenses

PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools

Let Her Learn: A Toolkit to Stop School Push Out For Girls of Color

Let Her Learn:  Join the Fight to Stop School Pushout

NeaToday: When School Dress Codes Discriminate

“While a dress code is supposed to make the school environment more conducive to learning, it frequently does the opposite…

‘White Male Default’

Kutzer says that she will only “dress code” students if their clothing is clearly so tight it is uncomfortable. Her school follows “standard school attire,” (SSA) so students wear uniforms. On laundry day, however, some students show up without. Other student’s families can’t afford to keep up with their growing children, so their uniforms are ill-fitting.

“We are told by our administrators to send non-compliance issues to the office, but I only refer kids who are clearly wearing too tight or uncomfortable clothing, and I send them to the nurse, who keeps a stash of extra clothing for this type of situation,” explains Kutzer.

The high school attended by her daughter, however, uses a dress code policy rather than the SSA. Kutzer noticed that it essentially targets female and minority students—the focus being on on parts of the female anatomy, like backs, shoulders, and legs.

school dress codes

“Targeting styles of clothing that are mostly associated with a particular minority group is discriminatory. When styles such as ‘sagging pants’ are the issue, we are putting a burden predominantly on black males,” says Kutzer.

She calls this the “white male default,” a common trend for school dress codes. “Dressing as most white young men do seems to be what is encouraged.’

In 17-year-old Maddie Reeser’s Baltimore City public school, it’s the black girls at her school who are the most frequently dress coded—a double discrimination. “My white friends rarely get sent to the office, but my black friends do quite often,” says Reeser.

Another student said she brought up this issue to a male administrator, who told her it was “because white girls don’t have as much to show.” The student says this comment made her feel uncomfortable, let along failing to address the inequality.

Despite the fact that Reeser’s school has a uniform, she and her peers still faced the same issues that Belsham described at her Duval County school. “The rule should be based on the clothes, not how they fit, because it’s different for each person,” says Belsham.

Despite the rules being the same for every girl, teachers end up enforcing the rules more strictly with black females, and in a way that is humiliating.

Many dress codes can cause black students to fall behind academically, according to a 2018 National Women’s Law Center study. Looking at public schools in the District of Columbia, the report found that three in four D.C. public high school dress codes say students can be pulled out of class or school for dress code violations.

“It’s outrageous that girls are losing critical class time simply for what they are wearing,” said NWLC Education Fellow and report co-author, Kayla Patrick. “This sends a disturbing message to all students: What a girl looks like is more important than what she learns and thinks. No girl should ever have to forfeit her education because her shirt is the wrong color or she has a hole in her jeans.”

The Glowup: The Dress Code Is Discrimination? First Grader Denied His First Day of School for Dreadlocks

“Imagine this: You escort your son to his first day of first grade, all buttoned up in his brand new uniform and eager to begin the school year, only to be turned away because your child has dreadlocks.

That’s what happened to Clinton Stanley and his son, Clinton Jr., when they arrived for their first day at A Book’s Christian Academy in Apopka, Fla. Upon seeing Clinton Jr.’s head full of dreadlocks, administration officials did the Christian thing and told the Stanleys that the six-year-old would not be able to attend, due to an unseen rule in the school’s handbook that states that all boys’ hair must be cut above the ear.

An emotional video of the incident taken by Stanley Sr. shows that even his request to braid his son’s hair down was met with denial. In fact, the only solution the school would offer in the moment was to allow him to unenroll his child, causing him to miss his first day of school.

As A Book’s is a private academy, they are legally within their rights to enforce a dress code. However, to include a grooming choice as personal and culturally relevant as wearing dreadlocks rightfully raises concerns.

“If a kid has dreadlocks, that’s your personal standard,” Stanley told local news station WESH 2 News. “Meaning, that’s a personal problem you haven’t overcome, because 95 percent of the kids who have dreadlocks are African American.”

But evangelist and school director John Book told WESH that he is “obviously not a racist,” countering that his school is “probably 95 percent black.” He then quoted the famous hymn, “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” emphasizing the phrase “All the children of the world; red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.”

But what A Book’s restrictive dress code indicates is that the cultural expressions of red, yellow, black and white children are not considered equally precious. After all, the school only offered to re-enroll Clinton Jr. under the condition that he cut his hair, an offer the Stanleys wisely declined.

Of course, this is far from the first time we’ve seen a traditionally black hairstyle become an issue in school. Much like the military, American schools both public and private have regularly policed hairstyles like locs, braids and naturals, proclaiming them unsanitary, unruly and even disruptive to the academic environment. In the process, black students have been denied days of learning, proms and even graduation, while repeatedly being given the message that their natural hairstyles are unacceptable or somehow abnormal.

It’s an issue no parent or child should have to address as they attempt to get an education, let alone on the very first day of school. But thankfully, this story has a happy ending: The very next day, Stanley found a school for his son accepting of his hairstyle of choice—which Clinton Jr. celebrated by wearing his locs in a mohawk for his second first day of school.

Bias Towards Darker Skin People

Teaching Tolerance: “What’s ‘Colorism’?”

“Within-group and between-group prejudice in favor of lighter skin color—what feminist author Alice Walker calls “colorism”—is a global cultural practice. Emerging throughout European colonial and imperial history, colorism is prevalent in countries as distant as Brazil and India. Its legacy is evident in forums as public as the television and movie industries, which prefer to cast light-skinned people of color, and as private as the internalized thoughts of some Latino, South-Asian or black parents who hope their babies grow up light-skinned so their lives will be “just a little bit easier.”

Racial Bias in Voices: Linguistic Profiling

Business Insider: ‘Sorry to Bother You’ is right — minorities are judged by the sound of their voice, and there’s science to prove it

“In the upcoming movie “Sorry to Bother You,” a black telemarketer named Cash can’t finish a single call without getting hung up on.

But Cash’s fortunes change after a colleague instructs him to start calling customers using his “white voice.” Suddenly, by changing his accent to that of a white man, he achieves unheard-of levels of telemarketing success.

While “Sorry to Bother You” may be a comedy, its premise is rooted in science. Language experts have recognized for years that people face discrimination not just based on their race but the sound of their voice — especially when they sound like a minority.

John Baugh, a linguist at Washington University in St. Louis, was the first to document the “linguistic profiling” some minorities face over the phone. It started in the late 1980s when Baugh, who is black, said he was discriminated against while searching for apartments in Palo Alto, California, where he was living as a fellow at Stanford University.

Baugh launched an experiment in which he made hundreds of phone calls to landlords who had listed apartments in the San Francisco area. He greeted each landlord with the same line: “Hello, I’m calling about the apartment you have advertised in the paper.” But he didn’t always say it in the same accent — he alternated between using an African-American accent, a Mexican-American accent, and his natural accent, what he called professional standard English.

He found that in white areas, landlords were far less responsive to him when he used his black or Latino accent. In one predominantly white community, landlords offered to show him the apartment 70% of the time when he used his standard-English voice, but less than 30% of the time when he spoke in a black or Latino dialect.

Baugh’s research proved that racism extends further than just face-to-face interactions.

“For people who felt that they had been the victims of linguistic discrimination, they were happy to see it,” he told Business Insider. “And it was the kind of affirmation of like, well, we knew this all along. We knew it. We just didn’t know that it could be proved scientifically.”

Can you really tell someone’s race based on their voice?

Although language and ethnicity are closely intertwined, the notion that one can “sound white” or “sound black” has stirred controversy in the past. It came up in the OJ Simpson murder case, when Johnnie Cochran memorably argued that it was inherently racist to assume someone’s race based on the sound of their voice.

But as Baugh explains, we make inferences from people’s voices all the time. We can usually tell when a speaker is a man or a woman, for example, and we can get a sense if they’re old or young. Guessing someone’s race is the same thing.

“It’s not necessarily racist to draw an inference about a person’s race from their speech,” Baugh told Business Insider. “What is potentially racist is if you act on that inference in a discriminatory way.”

Although Baugh’s research uncovered a harsh reality for minorities, he said it did little to wipe out housing discrimination for good. Instead, it simply motivated the real estate industry to change its tactics.

Minorities still face discrimination in the housing market, as the Urban Institute think tank has shown. But now, instead of rejecting them over the phone, Baugh said brokers will often go through the process of having them fill out applications and granting them appointments before ultimately rejecting them, making it harder to take legal action.

“One of the unintended consequences of the research was that for those that wanted to discriminate, they realized, ‘Oh, I’d better be a little more sophisticated than just simply telling people no.'”

For Baugh, the issue goes far beyond fair housing — it cuts to the heart of the American identity.

“Many of the people who engage in linguistic profiling and linguistic discrimination are descendants of people that came from someplace where English is probably not spoken. And some of their ancestors at one point in time, whether they came from Italy, Germany, Vietnam, or the Philippines, were subject to a form of linguistic discrimination,” Baugh said.

“Accepting others who speak different than you do can potentially be a step toward healing divisions in the country.””

Is “Talking White” Actually A Thing?

Daily Beast: Black And Biracial Americans Wouldn’t Need To Code-Switch If We Lived In A Post-Racial Society

“Boots Riley’s new film “Sorry to Bother You” does anything but apologize.

In telling the story of Cassius, a young black man who becomes an extraordinarily successful telemarketer after he starts using his “white voice,” it showcases the magnitude of racial and class oppression.

Colloquially, Cassius’ use of a “white voice” is known as code-switching, and the film highlights something that most African-Americans could probably tell you: The ability to code-switch is often a prerequisite to becoming a successful black person in America.

As a race scholar and sociologist, I’ve studied biracial Americans who engage in code-switching. I found that the ability to deftly code-switch has some real advantages. But it also has its fair share of pitfalls.

More broadly, it has led me to wonder what the persistence of code-switching tells us about race, opportunities and making connections in America today.

Code-switching is the practice of interacting in different ways depending on the social context, and it isn’t limited to race. Most of us interact differently when hanging out with friends than we would during a job interview. 

However, due in large measure to structural inequality and centuries of segregation, different cultural norms and ways of speaking have emerged among white and black Americans.

But because dominant culture is white, whiteness has been baked into institutions as natural, normal and legitimate. So there’s much more incentive for people of color to code-swich – to adapt to the dominant culture to improve their prospects. White people rarely, if ever, feel this same pressure in their daily lives.

For this reason, the notion of a person of color deploying a “white voice” in the workplace (or anywhere in American society) isn’t a new phenomenon.

Biracial people create somewhat of a different dynamic due to their backgrounds. Often they have to navigate groups that are either all white or all black. In each instance, they’re outsiders who need to send certain signals – or avoid certain landmines – to fit in.

In my research, I explain how black and white biracial Americans deploy what I call “racial capital.”

I interviewed 60 black-white biracial Americans and asked them how their lives were shaped by race. I soon realized that they seemed to be pulling from a repertoire of resources in order to break down racial barriers and establish in-group membership among whites and blacks.

I categorized this repertoire into four areas: knowledge, experiences, meanings and language.

The language category involves code-switching.

For example, one of my interviewees bragged about her ability to code-switch: “To some people, I’ll say ‘He was handsome!’ versus ‘He fine as hell, girl!’ And I think I’m the baddest because I can talk to this group and that group in the same way that they talk.”

But this doesn’t always work. One person I interviewed explained that when he didn’t dap properly at his predominately black barbershop, the other patrons laughed at him and treated him like an outsider.

Other times, people are “caught in the act,” meaning people witness them interacting differently in ways that are shaped by race. This makes others question their authenticity, which ultimately jeopardizes any connection.

One participant in my study told me that he is perpetually self-conscious about code-switching out of fear that someone would witness his behavior and question his authenticity.

Another participant echoed his concern: “I feel almost bad sometimes when someone sees [me code-switch],” she said, “because they are like ‘What’s going on?’ Especially my boyfriend – he’ll be like ‘Who are you?’”

And one person I spoke with said that it was “humiliating” when others saw him code-switch because people “just don’t understand.”

These are the costs of code-switching, and my participants continually risked being misunderstood and treated as outsiders.

Because of societal pressures, it’s a risk black and biracial people are clearly willing to keep taking.

An oppressive script

Code-switching would not be necessary if white privilege hadn’t been embedded in every social institution in American society for centuries. More and more, researchers have been able to show how racism has been rooted in how American society is organized.

In the workplace, black people face more obstacles to career advancement and a growing racial wage gap. In education, schools in poor black neighborhoods receive less resources, while teachers mete out disproportionately harsh disciplinary treatment for students of color. In politics, we see a lack of proportional representation among elected officials and recently witnessed the election of a president who routinely disparages people of color. In entertainment, there is a lack of diverse, nuanced, fully human characters of color. Even in religion, deities have been whitewashed.

Despite this documented reality, there are those who think that racism in America is a myth, that reverse racism is a threat or that our society is largely colorblind – a convenient way to avoid grappling with the severe discrepancy between societal values like equality and the reality of structural, intergenerational inequality.

I argue that there would be no need for racial capital if we were truly in a “post-racial” society – that is, a society where race carried no meaning.

Why would black and biracial Americans feel compelled to change the way they interact – the words they use – if race no longer mattered?

Although my study is about biracial Americans engaging in code-switching to bond with whites and blacks – and “Sorry to Bother You” is about a monoracial black man engaging in code-switching to perform well in his job – for everyone involved, code-switching serves the same purpose: to create a connection that will generate opportunities.

Yet the fact that code-switching is blatantly referred to as the “white voice” in the film underscores the power of whiteness – and the persistence of white privilege.

Even though we are becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, we are seeing racial tensions rise. Rampant racial inequality is evidence that white privilege continues to prevail.

In the film, Cassius’ manager fervently urges him to “stick to the script.”

There is no room for individuality, nuance or variation, which precisely captures the oppression of being compelled to code-switch.

Whiteness is the script, and code-switching is merely a strategy to adapt.

Race relations will continue to deteriorate unless our society’s script undergoes some serious revisions.”

The Cost of Code Switching | Chandra Arthur | TEDxOrlando

Racial Bias in healthcare

  • A 2012 study found that a majority of doctors have “unconscious racial biases” when it comes to their black patients.

Source: 7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real

  • In a survey conducted this year by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 33 percent of black women said that they personally had been discriminated against because of their race when going to a doctor or health clinic, and 21 percent said they have avoided going to a doctor or seeking health care out of concern they would be racially discriminated against.

Source: Discrimination in American

Now This: How the Health Care System Has Racial Biases

PBS: Is there a racial ‘care gap’ in medical treatment?

Back to Top

Internalizations From Implicit Racism

Dismantling Racism: Internalizations

“Racism not only impacts us personally, culturally, and institutionally. Racism also operates on us mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. When racism targets us, we internalize that targeting; when racism benefits us, we internalize that privileging.

(affecting People of Color) 

  • carry internalized negative messages about ourselves and other people of color
  • believe there is something wrong with being a person of color
  • have lowered self-esteem, sense of inferiority, wrongness
  • have lowered expectations, limited sense of potential for self
  • have very limited choices: either ‘act in’ (white) or ‘act out’ (disrupt)
  • have a sense of limited possibility (limited by oppression and prejudice)
  • cycles through generations


Internalized Racist Oppression

Internalized Racist Oppression (IRO) is the internalization by People of Color (POC) of the images, stereotypes, prejudices, and myths promoted by the racist system about POC in this country. Our thoughts and feelings about ourselves, people of our own racial group, or other POC are based on the racist messages we receive from the broader system. For many People of Color in our communities, internalized racist oppression manifests itself as:

  • Self-Doubt
  • Sense of Inferiority
  • Self-Hate
  • Low Self Esteem
  • Powerlessness
  • Hopelessness
  • Apathy
  • Addictive Behavior
  • Abusive and Violent Relationships
  • Conflict Between Racial Groups
  • Mediocrity
  • Violence and the Threat of Violence
  • Change in Behavior
  • Destruction of Culture
  • Division, Separation, Isolation

The  Self  System

The Self System model illustrates the impact of racism on personal identity. This multi-generational process of dehumanization is known as Internalized Racial Oppression and Internalized Racial Superiority.

The four aspects of self include Mental (Self Concept), Spiritual (Self Esteem), Physical (Self Image), and Emotional (Self Love).


All aspects must be in balance for an individual to be balanced. An imbalance in one aspect results in an imbalance of the entire self. Additionally, there are two dimensions of well-being: personal well-being is the individual dimension and community well-being is the collective dimension. Communities consist of multiple individuals with varied states of well-being.

The Self System & Internalized  Racial  Oppression



In a racist system, the dominant culture regularly sends People and Communities of Color negative messages about who we are both individually and as a community. The Self System of People and Communities of Color is inevitably shaped by the images, values, norms, standards beliefs, attitudes and feelings that presume dominant group members and their culture are the standard by which all people are to be measured.

The arrows represent the messages, communicated by all institutions, that People of Color hear about ourselves and our communities. There is no insulation or escape from the messages. The messages affect our individual and collective psyche despite the affirmations we may receive at home and/or in our communities.

Some of the messages about who we are include (but are not limited to): Loud, Ignorant, Violent, Underachieving, High Risk, Minority, Extinct, Tokens, Mascots, Unworthy, Broken, Bad mothers, Promiscuous, Lazy, Dead beat dads, Inadequate, Poor, Criminal,


The  Impact  of  Negative  Messages

This graphic represents what happens to the Self System as a result of the internalization of racism. Some manifestations of the internalizations of consistent negative messages are: confusion, tolerance, a sense of owerlessness, anger, apathy, denial, colorism, shame, assimilation, rage, protectionism, invisibility, emotional numbness.

The process of internalization is like a coil that spirals inward into the psyche. The attack is ongoing and repetitive. As a result …

  • Self concept is limited
  • Self-esteem is lowered and corrupted
  • Self-image is negated
  • Self-love is absent

Actions we take individually or collectively because of IRO include:

  • Failing to seek support from other POC because we feel isolated in our experience;
  • Intra-racial challenges, for example Black-Brown conflict;
  • Holding positions of power is tenuous because these positions exist in a white supremacy system and are often challenged;
  • Fear and/or avoidance of risk-taking because our taking of risks is interpreted negatively;
  • Continued exploitation. For example if we share something about our experience of racism in a racially mixed group, white people benefit by learning about their privilege at the expense of our reliving of our experience of racism.

​The greatest loss is the damage done to the psyche, resulting in an inability to do that which is in our own best interest.

White Internalized Racial Superiority

Dismantling Racism: Internalizations

​(affecting white people)

  • “an invisible knapsack of special provisions and blank checks” (Peggy McIntosh)
  • the default; “to be white in America is not to have to think about it” (Robert Terry)
  • expect to be seen as an individual; what we do never reflects on the white race
  • we can choose to avoid the impact of racism without penalty
  • we live in a world where our worth and personhood as white people are continually validated
  • although hurt by racism, we can live just fine without ever having to deal with it

(affecting white people)

  • my world view is the universal world view; our standards and norms are universal
  • my achievements have to do with me, not with my membership in the white group
  • I have a right to be comfortable and if I am not, then whoever is making me uncomfortable is to blame
  • I can feel that I personally earned, through work and merit, any/all of my success
  • equating acts of unfairness experienced by white people with systemic racism experienced by People of Color
  • I have many choices, as I should; everyone else has those same choices
  • I am not responsible for what happened before, nor do I have to know anything about it; I have a right to be ignorant
  • I assume race equity benefits only People of Color

For a more in-depth look at white privilege and internalized white superiority, visit the SURJ Political Education website page on
White Benefits

The  Self System & ​Internalized Racial Superiority

Positive  Messages
In a racist system, the dominant culture regularly sends white people positive messages about who we are both individually and as a community. The Self System of white people and communities is inevitably shaped by the images, values, norms, standards beliefs, attitudes and feelings that presume dominant group members and their culture are the standard by which all people are to be measured.

The arrows represent the positive messages that white people hear about ourselves and our communities; there is no insulation or escape from the messages. The messages affect our individual and collective psyche despite the negative messages we may receive at home and/or in our communities.

​Some of the messages about who we include (but are not limited to): Better. Moral. Individual. Qualified. Smart. Pretty. The norm. The standard. Leader. Safe. Deserving. Entitled. Objective. Rational. Justified. Innocent. Picture
Impact  of  Positive  Messages

The positive messages and privileges received on a daily basis include, for example, assumed credibility, freedom of movement, unquestioned access, etc. These are then internalized, impacting the Self System and leading to an inflated sense of self.

These internalizations on both individuals and the community level lead to impacts like: assumptions about our ability to lead and/or “fix” POC; resistance to change, conflict avoidance, paternalism and caretaking, ignorance and misinformation (often about history and/or our role in racism), scapegoating, a sense of entitlement, blaming, labeling, self-righteousness, anger, continued oppression, defensiveness, idolizing the individual, assumption of normalcy, right to comfort.

Another consequence of internalized white superiority is known as white fragility, which Robin DiAngelo notes is a result of our socialization into a whiteness that “renders us racially illiterate.” For more on white fragility, read here.”

Understanding Your Own Implicit Racism

Project Implicit

Project Implicit a Harvard project to help assess a person’s implicit associations about race, gender, sexual orientation, and other topics.  Try it out for free.  According to this study of the 1000s who participated 70% showed racial bias.

Look Different: See that, Say This

Ever see something that made you feel uncomfortable and didn’t know what to say about it?  Get tips on making that awkward conversation less awkward here.

Look Different: What Can I do About Bias

Racism surrounds us every day, but our generation has a responsibility to confront it head on.  These tools and resources can help us all understand our biases and challenge racism in our daily lives.

Back to Top

Learn More

Note to My White Self: One Last Try At Explaining Racism To White People

Kirwan Institute: Understanding Implicit Bias

Quianna Canada: What is the Difference Between Explicit and Implict Racism

Citizenship and Social Justice: Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves on Race and Racism–from Ferguson to Charleston

Yes! Mag: The Racist Origins of 6 Common Phrases You Probably Use

Follow Campaign

Race Forward

Black Lives Matters

Color of Change

Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites (CARW)

Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)

Sentencing Project

Back to Top