Diversity

Implicit Bias: The Silent Killer Of Diversity In The Legal Profession

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“It’s beauty in the struggle, ugliness in the success / Hear my words or listen to my signal of distress.” – J. Cole

According to the Sentencing Project, “If current trends continue, one of every three black American males born today can expect to go to prison in his lifetime, as can one of every six Latino males — compared to one of every seventeen white males.” Cornell Law School notes, “Race matters in the criminal justice system. Black defendants appear to fare worse than similarly situated white defendants. Why? Implicit bias is one possibility… Judges hold implicit racial biases. These biases can influence their judgment.”

In other words, justice is not blind. Unconscious racial bias can lead to racial inequality. It is important to be conscious of our hidden biases, but as Stanford Law School points out, “The goal of racial justice efforts should be the alleviation ofsubstantive inequalities, not the eradication of unconscious bias.”

Implicit or unconscious bias is a mental shortcut “that fills in gaps in our knowledge with similar data from past experiences and cultural norms.” It is a normal part of how we make decisions. Unconscious racial bias pervades our law, education, and politics. It is not always a bad thing, but it often tends to be negative. National Public Radio notes, “There are big racial differences in how school discipline is meted out: students of color are much more likely to be suspended or expelled than white students, even when the infractions are the same.”

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