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21 July 2016

Racist Policing without Racist Police

I read a blog post recently at Gin and Tacos, a blog and Facebook feed that I recommend, that got me thinking. It's worth a read first.

I find myself disagreeing with Ed. We know that individual level racism has been in decline for decades. Implicit bias and institutional racism, however, are persistent because they are subtle (i.e. difficult to recognize). I don't see any reason to believe that police officers and police departments are any different from the rest of society. The proportion of police officers who are overtly racist have likely been in decline for decades even as most remain implicitly biased against people of color and even as police departments organize in ways that unintentionally lead to racist outcomes (e.g focusing policing on "bad" neighborhoods). If we envision the disproportionately unjust experiences of people of color with police (including but not limited to being killed) as attributable to "bad seeds," we miss the larger social trend, but more troublingly, we miss the opportunity for actually make things better.

See Racism without Racists.

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