As I make my way through my feminist journey, I have come to notice that many people believe that gender issues and race issues have almost completely vanished. I have to say I felt like this before I read article after article about inequality seen today. It is interesting to me that many people choose to ignore the little things that occur which shows that racism and sexism still exist in a fairly big way. Sure we have made significant improvements, we do have an African American president, but what does that really mean? There are still so many hidden occurrences of discrimination out there that it is important we realize our work is never done. We have to keep fighting for equality and this small incident that I found on Jezebel’s blog site proves that many people still hold racist thoughts and base their actions off of them…
A recent research study conducted by Nextions asked a group of lawyers to evaluate a memo written by either a white or African-American author. There were 22 errors in the memo no matter who the author was and each contained 7 spelling/grammar issues, 6 writing errors, and 4 analytic errors. Half of the partners at the law firm were told the author was African American while the other half were told the author was Caucasian. The results were shocking. Overall the memo “written” by the Caucasians were said to be better than the memos “written” by the African Americans. In fact, the evaluators said they found an average of 5.8 spelling and grammar errors for the “African American” authors while only finding an average of 2.9 of the same errors for the Caucasians.
Here is what I find interesting. I can almost guarantee (although not proven) that if you asked these lawyers whether or not they had racial prejudices they would quickly say no and deny having any racist thoughts. However, this study proves that it still seems to be a subconscious (or even conscious) feeling/thought. The African American who makes mistakes is looked at as stupid and lazy while the white person who makes mistakes was probably just in a rush or did not notice the error. While we may not realize it, the color of your skin still has an effect on how people treat and perceive you. As a woman, I know that if I were to make a mistake it would probably be perceived as “ditzy” or as if I was not competent. A man would probably get away with a lot more.
For those of us who say racism does not exist or it is no longer a problem. Please think again. The fact that unconsciously these evaluators found more errors for African Americans means the idea of inequality based on skin color still exists. From a psychological point of view, I almost feel like this article works well with the idea of “Confirmation Bias.” This is where one has a thought and whether you realize it or not, you look for things that confirm that thought. For example, if you think African Americans are “more stupid” than whites, you may notice more errors about them in order to confirm your beliefs that they are in fact “more stupid.” I am not sure this is exactly what is happening here, but if it is, we have to look at the big issue of people initially thinking someone is more stupid than another just because they have darker skin. That my friends, is a problem.
What do you think of this experiment? Does is show racism still exists?