CBA Record November-December 2021


U nconscious bias can cause just as much harm as explicit bias. Most people consider themselves free of prejudices. Reality says otherwise. This fact was driven home by a personal experience a judge shared at a conference I attended recently. The judge, my esteemed colleague Justice Milton Wharton, has permit- ted me to retell it. He is the only Black jurist on the Fifth District Illinois Appellate Court. Justice Wharton spoke about his hunting and fishing “buddy,” whom he described as “a very close friend” with a similar world outlook. Justice Wharton had not heard this man say or do anything that would have alerted him to his friend’s negative attitudes towards Blacks or his unquestioning endorsement of police conduct regardless of the specific circumstances. That is, until the man invited Justice Wharton to a gathering with his friends. When the conversation turned to the police shooting of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson, the friend asked the Justice, the only Black person in the room, for his reaction. JusticeWharton indicated that there is a difference between good and bad policing. His friend interjected that all law enforcement is good, that “they are not police to us,” but “our sons and daughters who we have sent to war zones to protect us,” meaning Whites, and that “as good citizens, in any war, it is our duty to be patriots and to support our soldiers and our troops.” Justice Wharton acknowledged his friend’s feelings but said that at times Blacks have been subjected to “aggressive policing for no valid reason.” The friend countered, “In any war there are going to be collateral casualties.” Astonished, the Justice looked straight at him, “Am I the enemy?” “You said that, I didn’t,” the friend scoffed. The story made me feel anger, disgust, and fear. Anger at the false friend’s support of white supremacy and view of police as soldiers deployed to a war zone whose residents he considered collateral casualties. Disgust at the indifference to Black lives and his unbounded admiration of whatever police do. And fear that biases like his undermine our democratic openness and pluralistic values. Justice Wharton told me that he never spoke to the man again. People of color can tell you similar stories that involve disrespect, harassment, humiliation, and worse. That is why, particularly Whites like me, must vigilantly monitor their personal biases and prejudices. We need to learn to detect the twin menaces of bigotry and intolerance, which continue to contaminate our society and public institutions, including the legal system. Ways to mitigate unconscious bias include: (i) learning as much as we can about commu- nities and cultures different than our own; (ii) avoiding generalizations; (iii) seeing people as individuals and not stereotypes; (iv) realizing that dismantling hundreds of years of oppression requires more than good intentions and acknowledging wrongs; (v) critically questioning our thinking and underlying assumptions; (vi) considering things from the perspectives of others; and (vii) treating everyone the same way we would want our mother to be treated. I conclude with a story: If you visit the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, after tracing the history of the Holo- caust, the museum focuses on the continuing existence of prejudice in the world. First, a film introduces visitors to various racial, ethnic, and religious stereotypes. Then, visitors enter the exhibit through two doors, one marked “Prejudiced” and the other “Unpreju- diced.” Those who try to open the “Unprejudiced” door will find it locked shut. EDITOR’S BRIEFCASE BY JUSTICE MICHAEL B. HYMAN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Unlock Your Unconscious Bias

EDITORIAL BOARD EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Justice Michael B. Hyman Illinois Appellate Court

ASSOCIATE EDITOR Anne Ellis Proactive Worldwide, Inc.

SUMMARY JUDGMENTS EDITOR Daniel A. Cotter Howard and Howard Attorneys PLLC

YLS JOURNAL EDITORS Jacob B. Berger Tabet DiVito & Rothstein LLC Kaitlin King

Hart David Carson LLP Theodore Kontopoulos BKD LLP

Carolyn Amadon Samuel, Son & Co. Daniel J. Berkowitz Illinois Attorney General’s Office Amy Cook Amy Cook Law LLC Nina Fain Janet Sugerman Schirn Family Trust Anthony F. Fata Cafferty Clobes Meriwether & Sprengel LLP Clifford Gately Judge Jasmine Villaflor Hernandez Circuit Court of Cook County Lynn Semptimphelter Kopon Kopon LLC John Levin Kathryn C. Liss DePaul University College of Law Bonnie McGrath Law Office of Bonnie McGrath Clare McMahon Hoffenberg & Block LLC Pamela S. Menaker Clifford Law Offices Kathleen Dillon Narko Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Alexander Passo Latimer LeVay Fyock LLC Adam J. Sheppard Sheppard Law Firm, PC Richard Lee Stavins Robbins, Saloman & Patt, Ltd. Rosemary Simota Thompson

Judge E. Kenneth Wright, Jr. Circuit Court of Cook County

THE CHICAGO BAR ASSOCIATION Sharon Nolan Director of Marketing

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