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The Racism Industry

Rikki has a good post on racism on KnoxViews. Gene Patterson just posted a different look at racism on his blog. Between reading the two different posts I found myself asking a question.

Is there an industry that uses racism as a product? Are there race merchants? I am not talking about anything as obvious as Jesse Jackson, is there a hidden industry of race merchants disguised under the cloak of academia or human resources management?

In Gene Patterson’s post he quotes a column in the Knoxville News Sentinel by Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, who points to a Harvard test as proof that we all have latent racist attitudes. Gene took one of the tests and he writes, “I took the test and it showed that I – on a scale of slight, moderate and strong – have a slight preference for European Americans. That, according to the test, makes me a racist.”

the rest of the story…

Welcome to the club. Me too. According to the test I took I am a racist. I took a different test on race and weapons and my results were, “Your data suggest a moderate association of European American with Harmless Objects and African American with Weapons compared to African American with Harmless Objects and European American with Weapons.”

I wondered if anyone could take this test and not be a racist. So where does the test come from? You guest it, Harvard University. In fact in the FAQ section the authors go to great lengths to explain why the test is fair and accurate.

But is it?

I got to wondering if this test used objects like a tea cup and a dinner plate if the same results would occur. Could the results have anything to do with “handedness”? The biological preference of using one hand versus the other. In these tests there is a picture on the left and right hand side of the screen. To respond the picture on the left you press the “e” key on your keyboard. To respond to a picture on the right hand side of the screen you press the “i” key on your keyboard. Ask a right handed person to do almost anything with their left hand. The results will be comical. Few people are ambidextrous.

The resumes of the scientists that developed this test are beyond reproach. The author Michael Shermer is the publisher of Skeptic magazine. Yet none of these people considered if the condition of handedness for the test could affect the results. Is it because there is a subconscious desire for a certain outcome? If almost everyone that takes the test has a result that they are a racist then you have a product.

Project Implicit has recently partnered with Mentametrix, “a multicultural research and marketing solutions company that combines the insights of the New Mainstream with the predictive power of the Implicit Association Test”.

Project Implicit recently received a grant from the Level Playing Field Institute.

So will perspective employees be taking the Project Implicit test as a condition of employment in the near future? If so, will that actually help race relations?

Decide for yourself, you can take the test here. Are you a racist? Welcome to the club.

17 Responses to “The Racism Industry”

  1. chris Says:

    Is organizing public support to curb “black on black” crime racist?

    What if someone tried to organize a movement to decrease “white on white” crime?

  2. ben Says:

    That’s funny. I’m a racist, but I didn’t make any mistakes.

    Now then, anyone who claims that a person is a racist for “preferring” something to which they are accustomed over something to which they are not, in an automatic response setting is a retard.

    Also, I wonder if the results would have been different if they had associated whitey with good words first, and bad words second. The order might matter, since in playing the game, I was also learning the game.

  3. trainer Says:

    Because I love my wife who is white and not my neighbor’s who is Chinese – I’m a racist.
    Because I prefer and can afford to live in a quiet suburb instead of a city – I’m a racist.
    Because I prefer to celebrate Christmas instead of Kwanza – I’m a racist.
    Because I get tired of Jackson and Sharpton whinging all the time – I’m a racist.

    I guess that settles it; I’m a racist. Or maybe not. Maybe I just love my wife, quiet neighborhood, Christmas, and hate race baiters.


  4. #9 Says:

    Also, I wonder if the results would have been different if they had associated whitey with good words first, and bad words second. The order might matter, since in playing the game, I was also learning the game.

    Could you think of a way to make a test that has more chances to affect the outcome than this test?

    But if you read the FAQ’s the “scientists” say they have factored in all considerations.

    Is it just me or do I smell money? I predict this is the next big thing in human resources management and that these “scientists” will become very wealthy.

    So what will the book title be? Maybe “I’m a racist, you’re a racist, how can we learn to get along?”

  5. SteveM Says:

    I am curious about the comment that one is racist, but didn’t make any mistakes. I don’t understand this test enough to reconcile.

    My biggest problem with the test is even if one were to conceded that every last non-African American was to some degree racist, what does that mean? There comes a point when a social phenomenon (or ill) is made so dilluted and pedestrian that it would be very difficult to conclude what the hell one should do about it? I once asked a black activist — who had just said that whites (including me) were all racist — “so what should anyone do about it?” His answer, in short: “admit it and change.” I admitted it right on the spot. But he said that I hadn’t changed. I said that I had, but in any case his method of pointing out my racism hadn’t changed in upteen years, and by his own admission, “we” (whites) were still all racist. So I asked him why did he continues this method of identifying me as racist if nothing was going to change? He didn’t have an answer, so I suggested one: he got off to it.

  6. chuck from redneckin Says:

    racist or bigot?
    There is a difference

  7. Rustmeister Says:

    I think everyone has a predisposition to feel comfortable around people who look like themselves. It’s just human nature.

    At one time I was going to get into the racism (aka diversity training/consulting) business, but then I figured out diversity in the real world wasn’t about equality, it’s about “what’s in it for my group”, and everyone else be damned.

  8. Guy Montag Says:

    Over at The New Republic they use it as an interrogation technique. The attitude may be all over their articles, but I would not know as I stopped reading them much after Stephen Glass left, other than looking at a couple of Eve Fairbanks and Elspeth Reeve stories.

  9. Heartless Libertarian Says:

    On the subject of a “racism industry”

    How about all of the various ‘ethnic studies’ departments found at pretty much every major university?

    I know the Univ. of Wash. has just established a minor (no major/degree just yet) in something called “Diversity Studies” as well.

  10. tgirsch Says:

    I saw the Shermer article (I subscribe to eSkeptic) and was highly skeptical of it. (No pun or irony intended.) It came by way of defense of Michael Richards’ stupid outburst. I, too, question whether the methodology is all that sound.

    On a deeper level, though, you have the problem of what exactly constitutes a “racist.” If you define it merely as someone who has unsubstantiated and/or unfair preconceptions about people based on their race, then pretty much everybody on the planet is a racist.

    But there’s an important difference between having some racist notions (which virtually everyone does) and allowing those notions to substantially impact your words and deeds (which far fewer do). The more the former bleeds into the latter, the fairer it becomes to characterize someone as “racist.”

    Of course, there are problems with the term “racist,” too, insofar as it’s too broad. Not all racism is of the n-word-spewing, cross-burning, lynching variety. That something fails to rise to that level doesn’t mean it’s not racist. It’s a much more complicated calculus. So in that sense, many accusations of racism do in fact turn out to have meat to them, despite the fact that the offense in question isn’t so egregious as, say, a cross-burning. But since that’s what often springs to mind first when people think of “racism,” many dismiss the charge as overblown. We don’t have a separate term to describe this lesser racism, even if it is still racist. So how does one resolve that? I don’t know.

  11. Rustmeister Says:

    The problem with terms like racism, prejudice and discrimination is that people use them interchangeably, when they are not. They build on each other.

    Prejudice is a “negative attitude based on a faulty and inflexible generalization” if I recall correctly. It does not require action or power for it to take place.

    Discrimination requires power and action to take place. Racism in a form of discrimination. Prejudice in action, if you will.

  12. sailorcurt Says:

    I’m left handed and came out to “moderately” prefer European Americans with African Americans and to “moderately” associate weapons with African Americans and harmless objects with European Americans.

    The first result doesn’t surprise me because I know that I prefer “European American” culture to “African American” culture. The second result is strange considering that I am regularly exposed to people with weapons (at the range, VCDL meetings, competitions etc) and those people are almost universally (not 100% but close) European Americans. Why would my subconcious associate weapons with African Americans under those conditions?

    I do think the order of the test is important. In both cases, the result they expected and wanted was first. African American Bad, European American Good. African American Weapon, European American Harmless.

    Like it or not, in the short time that I took the test I felt conditioned to hit the buttons the way that the categories appeared the first time so when the second re-categorization came up, I felt confused and made more mistakes. I don’t know if that was indicative of a subconcious preference for one or the other as much as simply getting used to doing it one way, and then being expected to switch in mid stream.

    Their contention is that Americans are conditioned in this way…even African Americans. I find that difficult to believe. When any test comes out as one sided as this one seems to, my first instinct would be to assume the test is flawed, not the attitude of the test takers.

    How many people from other countries have taken this test? Any from Africa? How about Latinos? Asians? Have they experienced similar results?

    I’d personally say that this method of testing is extremely suspect.

  13. Steve Says:

    Speaking of race industry, now that John Conyers is in charge of Judiciary- anyone wanna place bets on when “Reparations” will come up?

  14. Diamondback Says:

    Everyone has preferences, I remember several years ago reading about a study that was done with monkeys where they found that similar monkeys prefered to segregate with the same type of monkeys. Sorry can’t remember the details, but I remember the gist of the study. Monkeys would attack any monkey of different group if it ventured within their boundaries. Racism?
    I didn’t used to give racism much thought until I moved to a predominently black community. I have never been treated with such hate by so many people due to the color of my skin before. It was an Alien concept to me most of my life. A few days ago someone actually spit at me as I stood waiting to cross the street, just because of the color of my skin. Racism works both ways. If you’re black and you don’t like whites, your a racist too.
    One of these days we’ll get past all this BS and move on as a society. The hate has got to stop on both sides though. People are always going to look at people with different skin color, ethnic background or culture as different. It doesn’t mean that you have to hate someone for it. I can acknowledge someone is short while I’m tall. I don’t hate him for being short or find myself superior for being tall. Life’s too short.

  15. Sailorcurt Says:

    I started another comment but it got to long so I turned it into a post. I’ll fire you a trackback.

  16. Captain of a Crew of One Says:


    There is a discussion going on over at SayUncle about Racism and an “Implicit Association Test” created by some people at a little college called “Harvard University”.

  17. #9 Says:

    There is a discussion going on over at SayUncle about Racism and an “Implicit Association Test” created by some people at a little college called “Harvard University”.

    Good post, I think a lot of people confuse culturism with racism. I also appreciated hearing from another lefty. I mean left handed person. The IAT is suspect. I also wonder what else will come our way. I hope this won’t be the next big thing to be taught in school but it is probably inevitable.