Inside the Racist Mind

Using a conversation with an admitted racist as a jumping-off point, Touré uses his column at Time to explore the nuances of the "mental tumor" that causes such an attitude.

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Using a conversation with an admitted racist as a jumping-off point, Touré uses his column at Time to explore the nuances of the "mental tumor" that causes such an attitude.  

After a recent event where I spoke about racial identity, a white woman sidled up to me, leaned in close so no one near us could hear, and said, "I'm racist." Many people would be repelled. I was entranced. Here was someone who could tell me first hand how the racist mind worked. Social scientists have done studies on Klansmen and Neo-Nazis but those sorts of people are outliers, socially and mentally, while this woman was the sort of person you might encounter on a normal day. She seemed indicative of the sort of racist mind we’d be mostly likely to meet. She seemed normal. So I decided to talk to her and find out how her mind worked.

Studies show most people have some sort of prejudice or bias. "Decades of cognitive bias research demonstrates that both unconscious and conscious biases lead to discriminatory actions even when an individual does not want to discriminate," write Michelle Alexander in her book The New Jim Crow. "The fact that you may honestly believe that you are not biased against African Americans, and that you may have black friends and relatives, does not mean that you are free from unconscious bias. Implicit bias tests may still show that you hold negative attitudes and stereotypes about blacks even though you do not believe you do and do not want to."

Read Touré's entire piece at Time.

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