NAACP President Derrick Johnson says his organization would like to see a mandatory ‘implicit bias testing” scheme in place to determine whether public officials who enforce laws or “receive public dollars” for their work have racist tendencies.
In an article for USA Today, Johnson explains that internal bias “impacts us subconsciously,” and that racism has become so institutionalized in American government that police officers and other public officials can no longer recognize how these biases impact their decision-making.
“We are unable to grasp that implicit bias functions like a powdered drug stirred into our societal drink and continuously seeping out our societal pores, ranging from law enforcement to education to religion, entertainment and media,” Johnson writes. “It’s like our shadow and travels with all of us everywhere we go, regardless of our self-proclaimed objectivity or colorblindness.”
To that end, Johnson suggests that all public officials (and perhaps all Americans) should have their thoughts and internal processes examined for signs of this internal bias.
“The NAACP is calling for an expansion of the movement to demand mandatory testing for implicit bias, particularly for officials paid with public dollars. For major corporations, implicit bias training must become a part of corporate responsibility rather than always as a response to video-taped intolerance,” Johnson “suggests.”
The test administered in corporate environments isn’t designed to determine one’s fitness for holding a job. In fact, as John Sexton points out at Hot Air, the test isn’t even considered determinative by the people who designed it. But even if it did, it’s not clear what Johnson believes should happen to people who “fail” the test. Are they no longer fit for public office? Should they undergo some sort of retraining program? And at what point do we start judging people in other areas of their life for their “implicit bias” — something we can’t reliably test and have no effective way to treat?
Johnson obviously hasn’t considered these ramifications of his new, exciting policy. He just knows he wants it to be intrusive.