Michael Jordan has been one celebrity and sports superstar that had remained silent, maybe for too long, about political and social issues. He has been criticized for a while for his apolitical stance. Recently, Jordan issued a statement and donated a total of $2 million to help deal with the shooting of African-Americans by law enforcement and the targeting and killing of police officers in retaliation.
— ESPN (@espn) July 25, 2016
Jordan issued his full statement via The Undefeated on Monday morning. Michael Jordan donated $1 million each to two organizations to support his cause. The first organization is the International Association of Chiefs of Police?s newly established Institute for Community-Police Relations. The other organization is the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
The former?s work focuses on supporting reforms in building trust in promoting best policies in community policing. The latter, to the oldest civil rights law organization, is to help it build trust and respect between communities and law enforcement.
One current basketball star, Carmelo Anthony, via USA Today, said that it is ?about time? that Michael Jordan had said something about the issue. He also praised Jordan for his effort and for putting his money where his mouth is. Anthony called Jordan?s gesture ?brilliant.?
Scientific studies, though, show that these racial biases are in most, if not all, of us–even in people who explicitly say and are genuinely not racist. In a 2014 article by Chris Mooney in Mother Jones, he explored this phenomena with two scientists. He found that ?an impressive body of psychological research suggests that the men who killed Brown and Martin (black men) need not have been conscious, overt racist to do what they did.? They were likely intuitive impulses that guided that action resulting into unfavorable outcomes. This is what researchers call implicit biases.
Implicit racial biases had been studied using Implicit Association Test or IAT. You can take one here to help the research here.
Evolutionarily-speaking, this implicit associations with races (in-groups and out-groups) in our brains have helped us survive. This helped us distinguish our in-groups and our out-groups–kept us safe in times past. This is even observable in other species. A Time article by Jeffrey Kluger also explains this very well. What?s very interesting is that this implicit associations do not only occur in adults, they occur to humans as early as 15 months old.
This are inert survival mechanism that we inherited from our evolutionary past. Now, they become adaptive lags as we live in multi-racial societies with higher standards for inclusiveness and fairness.
There is still hope though because as we progress as a species, we have been on a relative tear in overcoming unwanted conditions such as diseases and irrationality through tools both cognitive and tangible.
Kluger ended his article concluding that:
?The sweet phase of simply noticing racial differences fades, to be replaced either by a higher awareness of the meaningless of such matters or a toxic descent into assigning ugly, negative values to them. Which way any one baby goes depends on upbringing, community, era, temperament and a whole range of other variables. What we will never be, like it or not, is an entirely post-racial species. Our better impulses may wish that weren?t so, but our ancient impulses will always test us. They are tests we must, from babyhood, learn to pass.?
What we have learned using science is that our moral actions come from intuitions first and we can curb these through external factors and training ourselves. The U.S. Justice Department has announced on Monday, according to Reuters, that more than 33,000 federal agents and prosecutors will receive training to prevent unconscious bias from influencing their behavior especially in the line of duty. This can be one of the first steps to help curb unfortunate incidences.
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