Others argue that tests like the IAT distract from the real problem — explicit bias. It’s a valid point. Why focus on subconscious biases when there are so many examples of blatant racism in this country that need our attention. It’s like punishing vandals when you have murderers in your neighborhood.
This also seems valid to me until I think about it a bit more.
Implicit bias is a driver of explicit bias. Racists hate because of deep-seated, internalized beliefs. Their explicit behaviors, including laws that perpetuate systemic racism and overt discrimination, are based on beliefs they may not even be aware of.
This is why they often come up with a justification or rationale that has nothing to do with race. Like the current drive to suppress the Black vote in numerous Republican-controlled states right now, for example.
It's not about race, they say. It's about making sure that every vote is legal. Sounds good on the surface. But all these proposed laws limiting access to absentee ballots, removing monitored ballot drop-off boxes, preventing someone other than the voter to deliver the ballot--all of them target Black voters, who tipped the 2020 presidential election.
All of these mechanisms to increase voter participation were okay until Black voters used them effectively during the pandemic. But to convince themselves that they're not motivated by race, these white GOP lawmakers and their white supporters claim they're just trying to prevent voter fraud.
By remaining unaware of their iimplicit biases, they're free to engage in overt discrimination. This is why becoming aware of implicit bias is so important. (Sorry, I didn't mean to hijack your excellent article with such a lengthy comment, Carlyn. But you really got me thinking, and I'm glad you did . It's a subject that needs to be clarified and amplified.)