According to the AP, race and ethnicity writers serve a vital purpose:
Few subjects permeate every corner of American life -- and can expand our understanding of America -- more than issues of race and ethnicity.Ever eager to expand my understanding of America, I dive head first into Jesse Washington's latest article: "Does racial bias fuel Obama foes? How to tell?" I expect the article will shine a clarifying light on all the accusations of racism that are being flung around like horse manure in this current presidential election.
As I begin to read, I am immediately disappointed.
Three sentences into his article Washington writes that racial bias against Barack Obama is "an accusation almost impossible to prove."
Shoot, I wonder. Should I continue reading? I mean, how can even a skilled race and ethnicity writer explain something that is "almost" impossible to prove?
Nevertheless, that pesky word "almost" persuades me to continue reading. And, boy, am I glad I do!
Just a few sentences later Washington quotes Susan Glisson, director of the Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi:
"...I am...quite certain that there are others who object to the president because of his race, because they have a fear of blacks that is embedded in our culture.Whoa! I'm white! Could I be an Obama foe simply because fear of blacks is somehow "embedded" in my psyche by American culture?
A few words later and I have my answer. Washington explains that Glisson's "conclusion is based on something called 'implicit bias'- prejudices that people don't realize they have."
There you have it. I am indeed a victim of implicit bias, which must be something like colon cancer because I don't feel any symptoms. I begin to wonder if maybe I need the cultural equivalent of a colonoscopy. I should nip this implicit bias stuff in the butt before it gets out of hand.
...Naw. After a few minutes of reflection, I reconsider. Washington and Glisson are probably exaggerating. There's nothing to worry about. Besides, I don't think Blue Cross/Blue Shield covers a cultural colonoscopy. ObamaCare probably does, but it hasn't fully kicked in yet.
Washington's next paragraph seals the deal. It's got me sweating bullets:
Studies show that due to longstanding negative stereotypes about African-Americans - which give such false impressions as most black people are dangerous, unintelligent or prefer welfare to work - many people harbor anti-black biases yet don't even know it."Studies show!" Those are the two most fearsome words in the English language. And if that isn't bad enough, Washington quotes an expert! Gail Christopher, vice president of program strategy for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which has "funded research" on bias, says:
Our [American] history has created...unconscious bias. Now we need to create safe places to discuss and educate people about unconscious bias, where we are not blaming and shaming them.Fear now is pushing me over the edge. Unconscious bias sounds a whole lot worse than implicit bias. Although, I must admit, it's a bit of a relief to know that having unconscious bias is nothing to be ashamed of. Maybe it's like picking up something from a toilet seat in a public rest room. How can I be blamed for that?
Then I focus on something else Washington says that goes off like a bomb in my head:
Such unconscious biases, the studies show, are present in people of all backgrounds, not just whites.Unbelievable! Not just whites like me, but Latinos and Asians can catch unconscious bias too? Even blacks?
Well, that tidbit of information puts a whole different light on things! If blacks can have unconscious bias, why does Washington's article dwell on white unconscious bias against Obama? Maybe he should have written about black unconscious bias against Romney.
I mean black unconscious bias against whites must exist too, don't you think?
Take, for instance, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. He recently went on a rant about "Tea Party types." He said they wanted "to push voters away from the polls," and that "they don't want racial minorities to vote at all."
It's now obvious to me what's going on here. Brown's embedded, implicit bias is making him assume that "they" -- all the Tea Party activists -- are white. And his unconscious bias against whites is making him believe that whites don't want blacks to vote.
Which, when you think about it, is not altogether bat-crap crazy either. Maybe blacks have way more unconscious bias than whites and should be prevented from voting. I mean, in 2008 43% of whites voted for a black guy while only 5% of blacks voted for a white guy.
But then again that kind of thinking might be due to my own, disturbing unconscious bias against blacks.
You know, I'm so confused I don't know what to think... ...Wait a minute! Wait a minute!! I wonder what color Jesse Washington is...?
...On the other hand, if unconscious bias does exist, then I might have white unconscious bias against Jesse Washington, the black race and ethnicity writer.
Darn! This unconscious bias stuff can tie you into knots so bad you don't know whether you're coming or going.
...However, I do know one thing for sure. Jesse Washington ain't much of a race and ethnicity writer.
His article sure doesn't serve a vital purpose by expanding my understanding of America.
Jesse Washington makes the issue of racism about as clear as a pile of horse manure.