Implicit Bias, Election '08, and the Myth of a Post-Racial America

44 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2009

See all articles by Jeffrey J. Rachlinski

Jeffrey J. Rachlinski

Cornell Law School

Gregory Scott Parks

Wake Forest University - School of Law

Date Written: August 17, 2009


The election of Barack Obama as the Forty-fourth President of the United States signals that the traditional modes of thinking about race in America are outmoded. Commentators and pundits have begun to suggest that the election of a Black man to the nation's highest office means that the United States has entered a post-racial era in which civil rights laws are becoming unnecessary. Although President Obama's election means that explicit, open anti-Black racism has largely faded, an analysis of the campaign's rhetoric and themes suggests that unconscious racism is alive and well. Rather than suggest a retreat from traditional civil rights protections, the 2008 election calls for maintaining and enhancing efforts to ensure that civil rights laws to address less virulent, less explicit forms of racism that persist.

Keywords: Barack Obama, Election 2008, implicit bias, race

Suggested Citation

Rachlinski, Jeffrey John and Parks, Gregory Scott, Implicit Bias, Election '08, and the Myth of a Post-Racial America (August 17, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

Jeffrey John Rachlinski

Cornell Law School ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States
607-255-5878 (Phone)
607-255-7193 (Fax)

Gregory Scott Parks (Contact Author)

Wake Forest University - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 7206
Winston-Salem, NC 27109
United States
3367582170 (Phone)

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