CBA Record January-February 2020
inclusion, and implicit bias. Although this list is by no means complete, they include Circuit Court Judge Thomas Mulroy, Circuit Court Judge Sophia Hall, Circuit Court Judge Sybil King Thomas, Circuit Court Judge Iesha Gray, and Circuit Court Judge Fred Bates. Additionally, Illinois Appellate Justices Michael B. Hyman and Justice Cynthia Cobbs have also been lead- ers in various educational initiatives. Conclusion and Next Steps Later articles in this series will provide more detail on implicit bias research and offer strategies to interrupt it. But before leaving this segment, we add a teaser from Professor Rachlinski’s research. While these researchers did identify blindspots as described above, they also concluded that suppressing implicit bias was doable: Our research supports three conclu- sions. First, judges, like the rest of us, carry implicit biases concerning race. Second, these implicit biases can affect judges’ judgment, at least in contexts where judges are unaware of a need to monitor their decisions for racial bias. Third, and conversely, when judges are aware of a need to monitor their own responses for the influence of implicit racial biases, and are motivated to suppress that bias, they appear able to do so. This article has offered a primer on the background and significance of implicit bias. There is much to learn. At this point, we reiterate that implicit bias is absorbed from all around us, starting at home and then reinforced by the dominant culture all around us—in marketing, in the media, even by the trauma we witness or experi- ence. Our communities’ acceptance of biased behavior and decisions is part of this environment. Evident in Chicago is the deep segregation of people by neigh- borhoods, which has resulted in housing disparities, food deserts, poverty, crime, slums, and blight. In the coming year, the CBA, our local judiciary, and its Implicit Bias training partner, the American Bar Association, will continue this series of articles together with a series of workshops to teach mem- bers more about strategies and activities they can implement in their lives and workplaces to help interrupt implicit
may be present at law firms. Reeves asked over 50 law firm partners to review a legal memo to help study the writing abilities of young associates. There were two identical memos, one labeled Thomas Meyer, third- year associate from NYU, Caucasian; and a second labeledThomas Meyer, third-year associate from NYU, African American. Overall scores were 4.1 for the Caucasian TomMeyer’s memo and 3.2 for the African American Tom Meyer’s (identical) memo. Far more spelling and technical writing errors were identified in the memo labeled African American. The comments also dif- fered considerably: “Good analytic skills” and “generally good writer with potential” for the Caucasian Tom Meyer, compared to “needs lots of work; average at best; and can’t believe went to NYU” for the African American Meyer. While Dr. Reeves was studying implicit bias, it seems likely that, if asked, these partners would have legiti- mately said they held no bias—no explicit bias. Still, implicitly their responses showed otherwise, as their reviews confirmed what they expected. Blindspots The research is all too clear that most all of us think we are better, including less biased, than others. This is sometimes called blindspot bias, but is perhaps more fondly known as the Lake Wobegon effect after Garrison Keillor’s “all the children are above average.” Professor Redfield joined psychologist Keith Payne in identifying as a “favorite study in this genre” one where fellow college professors were asked to rate their teaching abilities compared with those of their colleagues. A stunning 94% said they were better than average. Cornell law professor Jeffrey Rachlinski and his coauthors have identified similar self-perceptions among judges. When they asked judges at an educational conference about their own abilities to “avoid racial prejudice in decision-making” compared to other judges who were attending the same conference, 97% rated themselves in the top half. However, in Cook County, IL, the judiciary understands that it is imperative to overcome such biases, and has initiated training for all of its members. Several members of the judiciary have not only participated in training, but have begun programs to discuss issues of diversity,
biases throughout our communities. We anticipate this will parallel training and strategies on procedural justice and implicit bias being taught in police departments in and around Chicago. We look forward to using these efforts to strengthen our own. However, although we say there is no blame for implicit bias, that we are all human, and that we all absorb that bias from the world around us, that is not quite the whole story. Once we become aware of implicit bias and its manifestations and implications, then blame does exist if we do not act in ways to interrupt those impacts. This series of articles and trainings offers learning opportunities to do just that. We look forward to the challenge – please join us! Nina Fain is a member of the CBA Board of Managers and the CBA Editorial Board. She is counsel to the JS Schirn Family Trust and a Partner Alumna to Holland & Knight LLP. Sarah E. Redfield is Professor Emerita from the University of New Hampshire. She is a nationally known speaker and author on topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion, with a focus on implicit bias. Additional Resources/Reading on Implicit Bias Project Implicit, https://implicit.harvard. edu/implicit Enhancing Justice: Reducing Bias by Sarah E. Redfield The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Affects theWayWe Think, Live, and Die by Keith Payne Confronting Racism: The Problem and the Response by Jennifer Lynn Eberhardt and Susan T. Fiske
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CBA RECORD 27
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