Monday, June 18, 2012

Conference and Book on Implicit Bias Elevate the Discourse on Race

I attended a conference last week at Harvard Law School launching a book entitled “Implicit Racial Bias Across The Law” edited by Justin Levinson and Robert Smith.  I moderated one of the concurrent sessions on implicit bias and organizations where the presenters discussed the racial climates and cultures of private corporations, law firms and academic institutions.  Typically, discussions about organizations and how they deal with issues of race are constrained and confined by the discourse itself.  Spokespersons for universities and private firms rarely speak of bias, discrimination, or racism.  Instead, they typically talk about diversity, affirmative action, inclusion, access and equal opportunity.  These relatively cheerful words obscure the reality of the abysmal prospects for workers, suppliers, consumers, and students of color in the business world and the university setting.  Justin and Robert’s book and the panel on organizational bias forced conference presenters to move beyond diversity doublespeak to explore the continuing and pervasive problem of racial bias.  I applaud Justin and Robert for elevating the discourse about twenty-first century racial bias.

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