Open thread

Talk amongst yourselves… Heres something to get you started from this week’s Newsweek magazine:

If my purse ever gets stolen, it’s Dave Chappelle’s fault. In the spring of 1997, I attended a barbecue at the home of a friend in Los Angeles. Since the party was almost exclusively populated by a particular type of television writer (think Conan O’Brien), I was taken aback when a young black gentleman entered the festivities. Given L.A.’s then-fearsome reputation as the home of rogue cops, riots, and drive-by shootings, I was scared that the newcomer was a crack-crazed Crip out for honky blood. But, no, it was Dave. Once I realized my mistake, I spent the entire evening agreeing with his every word and laughing at all the comedian’s jokes.

And I have spent the next 12 years leaving my purse wide open and at least six feet away from me. It’s my penance for having automatically assumed a black man in L.A. was a criminal. Being black doesn’t get me a pass on unconscious negative feelings about African-Americans or the shame we feel when they become conscious. We see the same cultural indicators as everybody else—back then, hours of riot footage, rap videos, and the O.J. trial had created an automatic connection in my mind between African-American Los Angelenos and danger.

So, I was actually excited to read about a new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in which researchers from the University of Washington confirmed the validity of the Implicit Association Test (IAT). The IAT made a lot of news late last year when results showed that 70 percent of those who took it harbor an unconscious preference for white people over black people. And no, I’m not talking about 70 percent of white people—I mean people of all races who took it, including African-Americans. Read more…

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About Tami

Tami Winfrey Harris writes about race, feminism, politics and pop culture at the blog What Tami Said. Her work has also appeared online at The Guardian’s Comment is Free, Ms. Magazine blog, Newsweek,, Huffington Post and Racialicious. She is a graduate of the Iowa State University Greenlee School of Journalism. She is mom to two awesome stepkids and spends her spare time researching her family history and cultivating a righteous 'fro.
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