Equal Justice Society

Project: Mind Science Research on Anti-Immigrant Racism and Xenophobia

EJS will conduct research on the mind science (implicit bias, racial anxiety, misuse of stereotypes) aspects of current anti-immigrant racism and xenophobia.

We will issue a report at the end of Summer 2016 complete with an analysis of the situation along with talking points for immigrant rights advocates to use in public discourse on this topic.

Future projects to build on the research may include quantitative and qualitative research on this subject matter through polling and focus group work.

EJS has done similar work on this in conjunction with attitudes on race conscious admissions to our colleges and universities.

The hard science of implicit bias redefines the conversation surrounding civil rights. When we talk about xenophobia, we must also talk about disproportionate amygdala activation. When we talk about disparate decision-making we must also talk about disparate medial Prefrontal Cortex activation.

Today’s civil rights leaders face a new challenge: to expose the subconscious and subtle forms of bias and fear that exist in us and of which we often are unaware.

If the law does not acknowledge the role of implicit bias and structural inequities, citizens and immigrants challenging unfair policies or decisions have to prove the people responsible for them intentionally discriminated, which is a near impossible hurdle.

Implicit bias is often how discrimination reveals itself today. If we can understand how our brains work, we finally may be able to figure out how to conquer these biases and work together toward a fair and just society.

The Equal Justice Society is transforming the nation’s consciousness on race through law, social science, and the arts. Our legal strategy aims to broaden conceptions of present-day discrimination to include unconscious and structural bias by using social science, structural analysis, and real-life experience. Currently, EJS targets its advocacy efforts on school discipline, special education, and the school-toprison pipeline, race-conscious remedies, and inequities in the criminal justice system. The Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit also engages the arts and artists in creating work and performances that allow wider audiences to understand social justice issues and struggles.