Recent high-profile deaths of black people at the hands of police have put discussions of racism and bias squarely at the center of the presidential race. During the first presidential debate, the moderator, Lester Holt, asked Hillary Clinton if she believed that police are “implicitly biased against black people” to which Clinton responded, “Implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police.”
During the vice presidential debate, the topic of bias and policing was raised again. “Enough of this seeking every opportunity to demean law enforcement broadly by making the accusation of implicit bias whenever tragedy happens,” said Republican Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence.
But the highly visible election debate platforms are not the only spaces where the role of implicit bias is being discussed publicly. Last year, Justice Anthony Kennedy recognized the way in which “unconscious prejudice” contributes to inequality in a landmark decision involving the Fair Housing Act. FBI Director James Comey publicly acknowledged the overwhelming research demonstrating the presence of widespread unconscious biases, and the way in which these biases may manifest in policing.