To the Editor:
Most white people are taught not to be racists. We are viscerally offended at the idea of hate crimes that target minorities. We do not want to live in an unjust world. Yet, we have not yet come to terms with the deep and long-standing conditioning that we have all been exposed to. The fact is that although we stand up against visible hatred of others, we are just as uncomfortable when confronting our own privilege. Proof of this exists in our minds. What is the first thing we think when we conjure an image of a black person, a Mexican, an American? These thoughts are automatic and form our implicit biases.
The conditioning of implicit biases is invisible to us unless we look for it. We are taught to see people as human beings, as individuals, but we are also taught not to see people as part of groups. “I don’t see color/race” may seem magnanimous and open-minded, but it fully discredits the experiences of others based on group identity.
The sad truth is that minorities still struggle in our systems of education and employment based on implicit and explicit biases. They are not perceived as intelligent and competent as whites. Without the protection of affirmative action, minorities will continue to suffer, and this is bad for our general economy. If justice is as important to you as you claim, then own up to your privilege and use it for good because our Justice Department is anything but just.