What is “implicit racial bias”? Mike Pence sure as hell doesn’t know, so let’s discuss

During the vice presidential debate, the candidates were asked about law enforcement and race relations, and Republican VP candidate Mike Pence responded with an answer that attempted to condemn implicit bias… and, really, just proved that he has no idea what it actually is. Pence said that it it isn’t fair to use a “broad brush to accuse law enforcement of implicit bias,” which makes it seem like it’s an insult to say we have implicit bias, instead of, well, a fact. So, I’m gonna walk Pence through what implicit racial bias is, because, come on. It’s 2016, we all have bias, and we need to own up to it.

When Pence says it’s wrong to assume someone has implicit bias, he’s getting things so confused. He clearly thinks that saying someone has implicit bias is a means of insulting them, but it isn’t. It’s not an insult, and it’s nothing petty. It’s a fact, and it’s something that needs to be acknowledged.

As Inverse explains, the entire thing about implicit bias is that you DON’T KNOW YOU HAVE IT. It’s not something you do. It’s something you have. It’s just there, already, from day one, or like, day seven, or whenever TF we start recognizing humans as humans and ourselves as a part of something bigger.

Inverse suggests four major factors that drive implicit bias: culture, affective experiences, developmental history, and concept of self. We all have these things, so we’re all going to have implicit bias. It’s just how we work. This is why there are tests like the Implicit Association Test that seek to help us understand our own biases so we can begin challenging them.

When we deny implicit bias and try to brush it off, we make it impossible to target it, because until we recognize something, how the hell can we challenge it? And, clearly, as the continually high rates of police brutality, racism, and discrimination in this country prove, we can’t afford to go any longer without recognizing our own bias. Because it affects us all.

Pence said we’re somehow taking advantage of terrible tragedies to talk about issues of racism, sexism, and other forms of bias. But, to be frank, he’s wrong. We don’t want cops to have implicit bias. We’re not wishing any of this upon our country. There’s nothing fun about stopping during a tragedy to say, “OK, how can we recognize the ways that each of us, as individuals, and as a society, allowed this awful moment to happen?” But we’re doing it because we’re willing to put in whatever it takes to lessen these incidents, and it begins by looking inside of ourselves, as cheesy as it sounds.

We’re never going to be perfect, but we can at least start working toward something better than where we’re at now.