“We have this whole system that has been corrupted by decades of admitted inequality and unfairness when it comes to the management of cases involving African-American defendants,” says Bryan Stevenson, a New York University Law School professor and founder of the Montgomery, Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative, who was one of several national figures who applauded the North Carolina reform. “A lot of the bias and discrimination that people perpetrate in these systems is the kind that we perpetrate because we’re not actually aware of what it means to be biased and discriminatory. It’s not overt. I’m not saying anybody hates African Americans. I’m not saying they want to see lynching. They have undeveloped understandings of the ways racial bias manifests itself and plays out in the system of justice. They’ve thought very little about it.”They're encouraged to think very little about it. In fact, they're encouraged to be dismissive of the idea it's even possible. Ask Bill O'Reilly.
It's hard to have a productive discussion about a problem almost nobody wants to admit, or is even capable of admitting, is a problem in the first place. Harder still when the moneyed interests that do know there's a problem don't see it as a problem, but as the natural order of things.
Everybody recognizes the apoplectic face of white supremacist thinking when they see it. When it's upstanding citizens in suits and ties, educated professionals, and otherwise non-threatening, reasonable-looking folks lying to themselves first, and then to society at large, about their ideology ... it becomes invisible to the people who aren't direct victims of it. The devil doesn't exist, so it's no trick us being convinced he doesn't. But evil is real, and its greatest trick is hiding in plain sight, in the blind spots we all have -- the ones illusionists know how to exploit. No devils, but bad, bad men.