Sharon Davies, executive director of Ohio State’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, said Zimmerman’s decisions may have been guided by an unconscious bias. She said racism in America today is more subtle.
“We made it through the civil rights era and we think of those scenes as racism – that’s what it looked like and we don’t see that anymore,” Davies said. “So we convince ourselves that race doesn’t operate on the human mind but the reality is that race does shape judgments about individuals.”
“Unconscious racism is a bigger issue for us today,” Davies said. “It’s an issue for whether we’re talking about police officers and the way police officers engage citizens on the street and it is an issue when we’re talking about a civilian like George Zimmerman who, without even realizing it, may be judging someone like Trayvon Martin in a way in which he wouldn’t judge someone who wasn’t a young black male.”