The final scenes of the 2014 film Selma, which depicts Martin Luther King Jr.’s struggle for federal voting rights legislation to protect African Americans in the South, leave viewers applauding, content with our nation’s civil rights progress after witnessing a concrete example of how a protest effected meaningful national change. But what the movie doesn’t provide is an update — a scene that flashes forward almost 50 years to show how the exact rights granted to blacks who marched across Alabama in demonstration have recently been eroded by our highest court and then by states across the country.
In the popular imagination and in conventional discourse — especially in the context of highly charged news events such as the shooting of Trayvon Martin — prejudice is all about hatred and animosity.
Scientists agree there’s little doubt that hate-filled racism is real, but a growing body of social science research suggests that racial disparities and other biased outcomes in the criminal justice system, in medicine and in professional settings can be explained by unconscious attitudes and stereotypes.
Subtle biases are linked to police cadets being more likely to shoot unarmed black men than they are unarmed white men. (Some academics have also linked the research into unconscious bias to the Trayvon Martin case.)