Bias in our justice system is empirically proven. Despite this, courts and legislators have been historically reluctant to change their procedures to mitigate the court’s bias. Social scientists and law officials are aware of racial disparities at various judiciary levels: at police stoppings, court procedures, sentencings, at many level of the judicial system not entirely explainable except by race. Bias should be considered a flaw in the system. The courts contended in a certain Supreme Court case that seems to escape my memory (McGautha vs. California, I believe) that resource constraints prohibited their capacity to pursue bias: If they were to pursue every hint of bias, they would be overwhelmed and would never accomplish anything. However, most typically, incidences of bias are against marginalized groups. Would they have been inactive, grounded themselves judgment over justice, if the bias was reported against the majority group? It correlates with some informational items which circulates claiming whites are less likely to mobilize against systematic bias in the judicial system if they know its targeting blacks, and the amount of financial aid one is willing to give in disaster circumstances depends of the victims. It seriously questions whether individuals in the majority group are unwilling to change their procedures because they aren’t being (negatively) affected by them. The logic of this can be explained through the concept of political apathy.
Apathy toward individuals of different races is political in nature for the opposite reaction, action, would change the current power structure, a power structure the majority group (generally) benefits from. In modern times, covert racism is more important to the perpetuation of racial inequality than overt racism. Action would portray the oppressing class as less worthy of the privileges they enjoy, or be faced with the idea that the individual has prejudiced beliefs, both of which they might find uncomfortable. Ignoring the “social reality of race in a racialized social system” allows its perpetuation in formal governmental institutions.
It seems to narrow it down to apathy by the masses isn’t enough. Individuals are generally reluctant to believe facts against their beliefs, such as that a systematic bias exists in a system glorified as fair and impartial. Bias against facts incongruent with their beliefs, as articulated in a news article by Scientific American written by the research conductor, solidly sums up what seems like one of the biggest problems and conundrum of Americans and our politics, particularly with systematically discriminatory institutions:
“We presented 174 American participants who supported or opposed same-sex marriage with (supposed) scientific facts that supported or disputed their position. When the facts opposed their views, our participants—on both sides of the issue—were more likely to state that same-sex marriage isn’t actually about facts, it’s more a question of moral opinion. But, when the facts were on their side, they more often stated that their opinions were fact-based and much less about morals. In other words, we observed something beyond the denial of particular facts: We observed a denial of the relevance of facts.”
The connection to institutional is almost too clear: When evidence of institutional discrepancies in an individual’s treatment is in favor of the individual’s argument, the individual bolster’s the evidence’s importance; and vice versa. The particular relevance of justifying action or inaction in each situation (the study claims) would be supported using very different reasoning. I would be willing to bet (all of my laundry quarters) this is broadly applicable to a variety of inter (and perhaps less relevantly intra) social group relations.
So (pick and choose as you feel compelled): Do you believe political apathy is a thing, and is/how is it racialized? Are there discernable patterns of fact bias and apathy, or an example you can think of? Do you see a symbiotic relationship in bias against contradictions to one’s beliefs and political apathy? And, more generally, how do you persuade a public unwilling to be persuaded?