Lawrence Bobo: Quiet Bias: The Racism of 2013

tags: racism, Lawrence D. Bobo, The Root



Lawrence D. Bobo is the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University. He is a contributing editor for The Root.

(The Root) -- America is not yet done with the illness of racism, the electoral success of Barack Obama notwithstanding. Yet most white folks don't want to talk about or hear about race anymore. And a good many black folks fret that it is strategically wiser for us to let it alone for now.

I am uncomfortable with both prescriptions. Some underlying maladies, to be sure, do heal on their own. Despite its modern subtlety and complexity, however, the current strain of racism infecting the U.S. is unlikely to be self-healing.

Let's be honest: Our culture is still deeply suffused with anti-black bias, despite an African-American president in office. National surveys (pdf) continue to reveal commonly held stereotypes of African Americans as less hardworking and less intelligent than whites. Political resentments of blacks remain a centerpiece -- indeed, a genuine third rail -- of American domestic politics: Do anything to seriously activate these resentments, and you run the risk of immediate political electrocution. The last time we saw any major political figure come close to touching the rail, of activating these political resentments against blacks, occurred when Obama offered his off-the-cuff remarks about the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr., The Root's editor-in-chief, by the Cambridge, Mass., police....



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