Towards a Psychological Science of Racism: From Prejudice to Structures

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Union South, Industry Room (3rd floor)
@ 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm
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In the aftermath of the Amadou Diallo shooting in 1999, social psychology appeared perfectly poised to address one of the most pressing issues of racism in the United States—how police could misidentify a wallet for a gun, and with deadly consequences. The social cognitive revolution that coincided with the turn of century had already spent a decade cataloging exactly these types of errors and how to combat them. After the uprisings in Ferguson, the literature on procedural justice seemed similarly well suited to answer a nation’s questions about how to prevent the next shooting. But in the wake of the lynching of George Floyd, social psychology was comparatively silent. I argue that this disciplinary silence stems from the national clarity that came in 2020 around the nature of racism. Namely that racism is a fundamentally structural concern (in addition to being a question of prejudice), a type of phenomenon to which social psychology had not bent its attentions in any meaningful way for several decades. The research I will present is my own best attempt to provide both the beginnings of a psychological science of racism beyond prejudice and a framework that may be useful to the broader field.