Columnist Clarence Page on ‘My Implicit Bias Against Black People’


In case you missed the vice presidential debate — and who didn’t? — the most memorable moment came when Indiana Gov. Mike Pence sounded shocked, shocked, at the very idea that a black police officer could be biased against black people.

I’ve got news for you, governor. A lot of black people don’t like black people all that much.

I know. I’m one of them.

I don’t dislike all black people. Most of us are fine.

When people tell me they are surprised to hear that I don’t like all black people, I remind them of how little African-Americans were exposed — until recent decades — to positive images of themselves in media and elsewhere.

I think my condition began at age 4. My parents broke the news that I could not go to the amusement park near our southern Ohio home because it did not admit “colored people.”

I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the beginning of my re-education in being part of an underprivileged class of Americans. Almost everywhere I looked, I saw images of white people achieving things and black people singing, dancing or getting arrested.

The world has changed a lot since then, thanks largely to the hard-won victories of the civil rights revolution. But black self-hatred is not dead, even in this era of a half-black president; it has merely diversified.

That’s why I was disappointed to hear Indiana’s Republican governor, Donald Trump’s running mate, take offense with Democrat Hillary Clinton’s suggestion during her first debate with Trump that everyone has “implicit bias,” including black police officers.

The “bad-mouthing” of police by people who “use a broad brush to accuse law enforcement of implicit bias or institutional racism really has got to stop,” Pence said in his debate with U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, Clinton’s running mate.

Pence cited the recent fatal shooting in Charlotte, N.C., of a black man, Keith Lamont Scott, that involved a black Charlotte police officer, Brentley Vinson, and touched off several days of riots.

Pence expressed dismay that “Hillary Clinton actually referred to that moment as an example of implicit bias in the police force,” as if a black officer could not be biased against black people. I am not prejudging Vinson’s guilt or innocence when I say that black officers not only can have — but in some communities actually have — long histories of bias against black people.

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Source: Chicago Tribune | Clarence Page