Letters to the Editor: To fight racism, treat it as useless, not evil

Implicit bias training
A sign advises that a New York Starbucks store is closed for a bias training session in May 2018.
(Richard Drew / Associated Press)

To the editor: Implicit bias does not derive from racism. Rather, both implicit bias and racism appeared during our ancestors’ evolution within small multi-generational social groups. (“Implicit bias puts lives in jeopardy. Can mandatory training reduce the risk?” Opinion, July 12)

Biases are shortcuts for emergency decision-making. The bias of racism is one form of “groupism” in which we prefer “our” group over any “other” group.

Because of our American history of conquest, expansion and slavery, racism became a primary expression of our human drive for groupiness. Peoples of other nations might be less racist than we are, but they’re just as groupy and share our cognitive biases.

The pernicious effects of biases and racism will remain until we approach them as no-longer-useful manifestations of fundamental human nature, rather than something entirely learned.

The approach the Oakland police have taken — justify and document your reason for stopping anyone — is a good approach, as it forces officers to engage their frontal-cortex reasoning centers rather than relying on “hunches” which are nothing more than cognitive biases in operation.


Chuck Almdale, North Hills