“Did you know three of the police officers charged in Baltimore were black?”
“See, so it wasn’t racist!”
This is what systemic racism looks like. Racism is woven into the fabric of our society and wrapped around everyone within. We all see the negative images associated with black people and are given the same crime and welfare stats. Why would we expect different perceptions or beliefs about this information based on the color of skin? (Does anyone remember the black vs. white baby doll experiment?) Just as most people who are white will not believe that they could be racist against blacks, neither will most people who are black believe that they could be racist against people who are also black.
Unfortunately, our subconscious frequently has a different story to tell, and this is where implicit bias comes into play.
When I was about 13, I feared that I might be racist against black people. This fear remained in the back of my mind always taunting me about my possible self-hatred. A few years later when I was about 18, I took a race-based implicit bias test. The baseline and norm regardless of race shows a slight preference for white people. The test explained that given our society, this result could be seen as negligible. My results showed a slight preference toward black people. I definitely think that at some point I probably had a strong bias toward white people, but by consciously being aware of my possible bias, I had corrected the problem that I feared.
If you have been raised in the US and exposed to stats, t.v., advertising, news, or other people, you probably have an implicit bias against black people. That bias is inherent within our culture and structure of society. I will say once again, this is not about individuals, it is about a system that favors white over black. Brown or black skin does not make you immune. Like everyone else, you can still be infected by the system.