An internationally renowned expert on implicit racial bias breaks down the science behind our prejudices and their influence in nearly all areas of society and culture.
MacArthur Fellow Eberhardt (Psychology/Stanford Univ.; co-editor: Confronting Racism, 1998) challenges the idea that addressing bias is merely a personal choice. Rather, “it is a social agenda, a moral stance.” Relying on her neuroscientific research, consulting work, and personal anecdotes, the author astutely examines how stereotypes influence our perceptions, thoughts, and actions. Stereotypes, such as “the association of black people and crime,” are shaped by media, history, culture, and our families. A leader in the law enforcement training movement, Eberhardt recounts high-profile cases of police shooting unarmed black people, and she documents her own fears as a mother of three black sons. Though “more than 99 percent of police contacts happen with no police use of force at all,” black people are stopped by police disproportionately and are more likely to suffer physical violence. Only a tiny fraction of officers involved in questionable shootings are prosecuted, and convictions are rare. Through her work, the author teaches officers to understand how their biases inform their interactions with the communities they are charged with protecting and serving. She shares informative case studies from her work with Airbnb and Nextdoor, an online information-sharing platform for neighbors, when bias among the sites’ users led to racial profiling and discrimination. Eberhardt also looks at bias in the criminal justice system, education, housing and immigration, and the workplace. A chapter on her visit to the University of Virginia after the 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville is, much like the book as a whole, simultaneously scholarly illuminating, and heartbreaking. Throughout, Eberhardt makes it clear that diversity is not enough. Only through the hard work of recognizing our biases and controlling them can we “free ourselves from the tight grip of history.”
Compelling and provocative, this is a game-changing book about how unconscious racial bias impacts our society and what each of us can do about it.