Blatant Racists Aren't the Problem—You Are

Lots of people think they're more enlightened than they actually are: Nicholas Kristof

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 28, 2014 1:40 PM CDT

(Newser) – As America once again examines its race relations, Nicholas Kristof writes that it's not the guys in white sheets we need to worry about. Instead of "overt racists," we should instead focus on the "broad swath of people who consider themselves enlightened, who intellectually believe in racial equality, who deplore discrimination, yet who harbor unconscious attitudes that result in discriminatory policies and behavior," he writes in the New York Times. That's where the conversation needs to start.

Kristof cites a number of studies to bolster his point—video game players (including Kristof himself) are quicker to fire on a black person than a white person, doctors dole out more pain medication to white patients with a broken leg, etc.—but he stresses that the cause isn't hopeless. The nation has made huge progress on race over the decades, and good training and smart policies (police cameras, for example) can help. But we must acknowledge that "racial stereotyping remains ubiquitous," he writes. And the main problem is "people who believe in equality but who act in ways that perpetuate bias and inequality." Click for his full column.

In this Aug. 16 photo, people protest the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
In this Aug. 16 photo, people protest the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
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