Often times when racism is mentioned, it is seen as wild and abrasive. Whether it is portrayed as a Neo-Nazi harassing an innocent person of color or an elderly white man talking about how immigrants need to leave the country, these acts of violence are seen as the absolute definition of racism. What is not seen or mentioned is covert racism. Covert racism is racism that is usually hidden and rarely goes noticed, but when it happens, it feels like a slap in the face or something that happened unexpectedly. An example of covert racism is choosing a “Daniel” over a “DeShaun”, although DeShaun is equally or even sometimes more qualified simply because of the name of the applicant.
Another example of covert racism can be seen through affirmative action. Although affirmative action was made to end the discrimination of students of color in college admissions, it can sometimes hurt them in the long run. In a blog post, Robert Burns of Stanford University describes how his achievements felt discredited. He states, “The color of my skin immediately gave my acceptance an asterisk, footnoting that there must be more to the story than just, ‘he was smart enough to get into Stanford’… Other students at my high school gave my acceptance the same asterisk, attributing my acceptance to being a member of a minority group. Regardless of how smart or talented I may have been, many people simplified my acceptance down to skin color because of racial stereotypes”.
Implicit racism can even be found in the education system. A study by Yale University shows that teachers are more likely to expect black children, specifically black boys, to misbehave more than their white counterparts. Researchers showed videos of children to preschool teachers and asked them to look for troubling behavior. Using equipment that focused on their eye movements, the results were that the teachers were focused more on the black students, especially black boys. Yale child psychology professor Walter S. Gilliam talks about implicit bias and how it affects current race relations in America. Gilliam explains, “Implicit biases do not begin with black men and police. They begin with black preschoolers and their teachers, if not earlier. Implicit bias is like the wind: You can’t see it, but you can sure see its effects.”
“Implicit biases do not begin with black men and police. They begin with black preschoolers and their teachers, if not earlier. Implicit bias is like the wind: You can’t see it, but you can sure see its effects.”
The idea that racism is only seen through the naked eye is unrealistic. It distracts from the fact that racism is full of multiple layers and is prevalent throughout the world. It is systemic and comes in many different shapes, sizes and forms. Covert racism is due to social conditioning and biases deeply rooted in white supremacy. Although all prejudices are impossible to get rid of, it is vital that we think about the way these prejudgements affect those around us.