The Oakland police murders, President Obama’s teleprompter, and implicit processing by Kevin MacDonald
In recent years, it became fashionable to talk about how Karl Rove was George W. Bush's brain. Suggestions that David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel are Obama's brain have a whole different connotation. And a very significant effect on how whites view blacks.
The headline of Sunday’s LA Times screamed “Oakland mourns 3 slain officers” (online version). Immediately I constructed a mental model that the murderer was a low-life black man between the ages of 18 and 30.
And of course, I was right. His name was Lovelle Mixon, age 27. Mixon, who was killed in the gun battle, was wanted on a no-bail warrant for violating his parole on a conviction for assault with deadly weapon. A fourth officer is near death.
My mental model was based partly on the reputation of Oakland as famous for black crime. This is an excerpt from the Wikipedia article on Oakland:
Despite comprising only 30–35% of the population, African-Americans are over-represented in crime statistics, with the majority of crimes occurring in heavily African-American neighborhoods. Earl Ofari Hutchinson mentions crime in Oakland as an example of a rising problem of “black-on-black” crime, which Oakland shares with other major cities in the US. Bill Cosby mentions Oakland as one of the many American cities where crime is “endemic” and young African-American men are being murdered and incarcerated in disproportionate numbers. Cosby alleges that the parents of such youths and young men, and the Black community in general, have failed to inculcate proper standards of moral behavior.
In a November, 2008 Congressional Quarterly Press publication, the city of Oakland has the dubious distinction of ranking fifth worst in a nationwide ranking of violent crime. The ranking takes into account six crime categories: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft.
In other words, Oakland has a reputation— a reputation that I was well aware of and that fed into the way I processed a headline like “Oakland mourns 3 slain officers.” In my brain there was an automatic connection between this headline and the thought that the perpetrator was black. Of course, the hardcopy LA Times article did not mention that he was black, and there were no photos. But with the link to Oakland, there was little doubt in my mind, and finding out that his first name was Lovelle clinched it. Online newspaper articles did not mention his race, but did include photos. Here is a photo of Mr. Mixon:
The Oakland police murders, President Obama’s teleprompter, and implicit processing by Kevin MacDonald | National Policy Institute