Notes & Quotes: Biased by Jennifer L. Eberhardt

The following are my favorite notes from Jennifer L. Eberhardt's Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do.
  1. That cringe-worthy expression "They all look alike" has long been considered the province of being a bigot. But it is actually a function of biology and exposure. Our brains are better at processing faces that evoke a sense of familiarity.
  2. Although we tend to think about seeing as objective and straightforward, how and what we see can be heavily shaped by our own mind-set.
  3. Without our permission or even awareness, stereotypes come to guide what we see, and in so doing seem to validate themselves. That makes them stronger, more pervasive, and resistant to change.
  4. Black people are stopped by the police at disproportionate levels and are more likely to have force used upon them. I know how our sons are perceived in society generally, and that can affect how they're perceived and treated by police.
  5. Our attention can be driven by stereotypic associations that we are not even aware are operating on us.
  6. The researchers examined whether racial bias was related to the capacity to do harm. White participants rated black men as more capable of doing harm than white men of the same physical stature and size. Black participants exhibited no such bias. They then showed nonblack study participants a series of faces and asked them to imagine that the person depicted had "behaved aggressively toward a police officer but was not wielding a weapon." Study participants thought that the police officer would be justified in using more force to subdue the black men in this situation compared with the white men.
  7. When black drivers are pulled over, they are more than twice as likely as white drivers to have been stopped for a high-discretion equipment violation as opposed to a moving violation. That's according to a meta-analysis of 18.5 million traffic stops across the country between 2010 and 2016.
  8. The United States has the highest incarceration rate of any industrialized nation in the world. We account for only 4.4 percent of the world's population but house 22 percent of the world's prisoners.
  9. In death penalty cases, where the stakes are irrevocably high, race can act as the thumb on the scale of justice. Decades of research have shown that murderers of white victims are significantly more likely to be sentenced to death than murderers of black people -- even when controlling for nonracial factors that could influence sentencing. 
  10. There is something destabilizing about having to accept that your tribe is seen as a permanent outlier in your country's collective consciousness. That, still, your dark skin is seen as a stain that no measure of progress can cleanly erase.
  11. Part of the stigma of black skin has to do with cultural associations that mark white as a sign of purity and black as something else entirely. 
  12. The South was especially perilous for colored girls, who were often preyed upon by white men who knew there would be no consequences for raping and assaulting them. According to the city's historical records, it wasn't until 1965 -- long after my mother's family had left the South -- that a white man was ever convicted of a crime committed against a black person in Anniston.
  13. Living with diversity means getting comfortable with people who might not always think like you, people who don't have the same experience or perspectives. That process can be challenging. But it might also be an opportunity to expand your horizons and examine your own buried bias.
  14. As recently as 2015, one of the nation's largest textbook companies was still publishing a high school geography text in Texas that portrayed slaves as "workers" who'd cruised here on ships from their native Africa to toil in southern agricultural fields.
  15. Research shows that people tend to grossly overestimate the extent to which they will speak out against prejudice, particularly when they are not the target of the offense. And standing up against racism can be dangerous.
  16. A study of flourishing white supremacist networks on Twitter in 2016 found that two hashtags drew the most retweets: #WhiteGenocide and #DonaldTrump.
  17. Moving forward requires continued vigilance. It requires us to constantly attend to who we are, how we got that way, and all the selves we have the capacity to be.
  18. The applications with black-sounding names were 50 percent less likely to get a callback than applicants with white-sounding names. The racial difference emerged regardless of the applicant's gender, regardless of where the ad was placed (Chicago or Boston), regardless of the occupational category of the job (sales, administrative support, clerical, or customer service), and regardless of whether the position was entry level or management.
  19. This particular practice of fitting in is so widespread that it even has a name: Whitening the Resume. Two-thirds of the students the team interviewed either engaged in the practice or knew someone who did. In the same way that minorities on the home-stay platform Airbnb might curate their profiles to increase their odds of booking a spot, these students -- all from top-tier private universities -- curate their resumes to keep from getting knocked out of the job process in the very first round.
  20. Neuroimaging studies show that our brains work harder to process positive information about out-group members than negative information. And we do just the opposite with in-group members.
  21. Black people regularly encounter racial bias in all types of businesses and in all types of routine interactions. They attract outsized attention from sales and security personnel, who follow them around in retail stores. They pay more than whites for cars at auto dealerships, even when they have equivalent credit histories. They wait longer to be helped at restaurants. They receive poorer service. And as social media has so graphically made clear, individual black consumers are often subjected to racial epithets from other customers, insulted by clerks, and challenged -- or even physically removed -- by police.