How Racist Stereotypes Make Police Bias Almost Impossible to FightIn the Vox mental universe, nobody ever learns anything from walking down the street with his eyes open. I mean, Vox scribes don’t learn anything, so how could black Baltimore cops learn anything?
An episode of the Science Channel's Through the Wormhole documentary series, hosted by Morgan Freeman, explained the research on this topic. Even more disturbing than the racial discrepancies themselves were the additional findings of one psychologist featured in the episode who studies them: that this racialized shooter bias is carried out by black people just as often as by white people. In a finding that complicates how we understand racial bias by law enforcement officers, Correll found that black subjects were just as likely to shoot a black man as their white counterparts were.
It’s also, in part, an answer to observers who questioned whether an analysis of racial bias could possibly apply in Freddie Gray’s death, given that three of his six arresting officers appeared to be black.
Their identities don’t mean race didn’t play a role in Gray’s death. Instead (although of course this doesn’t appear to involve a mistake of the type that Correll studied), they could also be interpreted to confirm that cultural stereotypes run so deep that they impact black people, too.
Correll explained, “We think this represents an awareness of a cultural stereotype — not that our participants believe necessarily that black men are more dangerous than white men, but by virtue of movies they watch, music they listen to, etc., they’re getting the idea that black male goes with violent. The group and the idea are linked together in their minds whether they agree with that stereotype or not.”
But what if the black Baltimore cops learned their stereotypes from watching the Vox-beloved The Wire? Hmmmhmmmhmmm …