Implicit Bias, Election '08, and the Myth of a Post-Racial America

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Rachlinski, Jeffrey J.; Parks, Gregory S.
Elections; Racism; Civil Rights and Discrimination; Law and Politics
article description
The election of Barack Obama as the forty-fourth President of the United States signals that the traditional modes of thinking about race in America are outdated. Commentators and pundits have begun to suggest that the election of a black man to the nation's highest office means that the United States has entered a post-racial era in which civil rights laws are becoming unnecessary. Although President Obama's election means that explicit, open anti-black racism has largely faded, an analysis of the campaign's rhetoric and themes suggests that unconscious racism is alive and well. Rather than suggest a retreat from traditional civil rights protections, the 2008 election calls for enhancing and maintaining efforts to ensure that civil rights laws address less virulent, but persistent, forms of racism that persist in America today.