The concept of unconscious bias is “the child of neoliberalism”, argues Jenny Bourne of the Institute of Race Relations. According to the new narrative, “racism is covert not overt; it is psychological not social; it is individual not structural; it is subconscious not conscious”.
The emphasis on individual bias runs fundamentally against a materialist view of society. It puts the chicken before the egg. Do ‘white’ attitudes and biases create the discrimination that blights the lives of BAME people? Or are those biases being inculcated and constantly being redefined by the political culture around us, itself being reproduced by the laws of the land, the steers from the media, and in fact the larger processes of globalisation and its flipside austerity – which provide the wrapper for class and power relations?