Is ‘unconscious bias’ just a convenient way to avoid acknowledging racism?

All of us have biases; snap judgements and assumptions that we make about groups of people based on a flawed system of beliefs. These become discrimination – racism, sexism, ageism, ableism – when we act on these beliefs in a way that has a negative impact on people from these groups. There has long been a narrative that some of our biased beliefs are conscious, and some are unconscious – meaning that we don’t even know they’re there. ‘Unconscious bias’ – or implicit bias – is frequently used to explain instances of systemic discrimination, like why a white boss might not promote a Black employee, for example, or why a Black child is more likely to be expelled from school.

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