Well, the above statement, while true, is just a tiny bit beyond the peer reviewed paper I’m reporting to you today, but this paper supports the assertion and the results presented in the paper should not be a surprise to anyone.
Here’s the basic idea:
If you focus on categorizing people into races at the expense of recognizing variation within these alleged racial groups, you will a) get ‘good’ at categorizing races, b) get bad at recognizing individual differences within the “other” races (other = not you), and c) become more racist.
If, on the other hand, you focus on … learn, train, etc. … recognizing individuals at the expense of learning to place people into these sacred racial categories, you become better at seeing individuals for being the individuals that they are, and you will become less racist.
From the study:
Implicit racial bias denotes socio-cognitive attitudes towards other-race groups that are exempt from conscious awareness. In parallel, other-race faces are more difficult to differentiate relative to own-race faces – the “Other-Race Effect.” To examine the relationship between these two biases, we trained Caucasian subjects to better individuate other-race faces and measured implicit racial bias for those faces both before and after training.
Two groups of Caucasian subjects were exposed equally to the same African American faces in a training protocol run over 5 sessions. In the individuation condition, subjects learned to discriminate between African American faces. In the categorization condition, subjects learned to categorize faces as African American or not. For both conditions, both pre- and post-training we measured the Other-Race Effect using old-new recognition and implicit racial biases using a novel implicit social measure – the “Affective Lexical Priming Score” (ALPS). Subjects in the individuation condition, but not in the categorization condition, showed improved discrimination of African American faces with training. Concomitantly, subjects in the individuation condition, but not the categorization condition, showed a reduction in their ALPS. Critically, for the individuation condition only, the degree to which an individual subject’s ALPS decreased was significantly correlated with the degree of improvement that subject showed in their ability to differentiate African American faces.
Our results establish a causal link between the Other-Race Effect and implicit racial bias. We demonstrate that training that ameliorates the perceptual Other-Race Effect also reduces socio-cognitive implicit racial bias. These findings suggest that implicit racial biases are multifaceted, and include malleable perceptual skills that can be modified with relatively little training.
Do you see why the insistence on a race-based model, which is questionable at best from a biological perspective, is potentially thought of as an overt racist act?
Sophie Lebrecht, Lara J. Pierce, Michael J. Tarr, James W. Tanaka (2009). Perceptual Other-Race Training Reduces Implicit Racial Bias PLoS ONE, 4 (1) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004215