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Biden administration moves to protect Alaska wilderness; opening statements and first witness in NY trial; SCOTUS hears Starbucks case, with implications for unions on the line; rural North Carolina town gets pathway to home ownership.

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The Supreme Court weighs cities ability to manage a growing homelessness crisis, anti-Israeli protests spread to college campuses nationwide, and more states consider legislation to ban firearms at voting sites and ballot drop boxes.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

Study: Racial prejudice related to where you live and learn

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Monday, February 19, 2024   

The city where you live could be making you, your family and your friends more unconsciously racist, or by contrast, it could make you less racist.

Study findings from New Mexico's Santa Fe Institute show how population, diversity and segregation combine to form a person's unconscious racial bias.

Andrew Stier, a psychologist, postdoctoral fellow at the Santa Fe Institute and lead author of the study, examined why it is true in some cities more than others. He said the research showed those who rub elbows with many different kinds of people revealed less prejudice.

"You learn to do that because you interact with people that are different from you, and you learn something that is not a stereotype of about them, and you think of that person as a person," Stier explained.

Stier pointed out diverse interactions force people to adapt to new situations and learning. The study is based on data from the popular online "Implicit Association Test," which asks volunteer participants to categorize their response when given a pairing of white or Black faces with positive or negative words. A faster association of white equals "good" or black equals "bad" can show inherent racial bias.

To build their model, the researchers took the average bias scores from almost 3 million individuals in different geographic areas and linked them to racial demographics and population data from the U.S. Census. Stier emphasized many cities create dense and diverse networks of social interaction, but not all, including Chicago where he lived for 10 years.

"If you have a city that is very diverse, but very segregated like Chicago is, that diversity doesn't get you that much in terms of not being racist," Stier observed. "It's not just the psychology but also who you can access and what types of opportunities you can have."

He noted in cities where people cannot encounter and interact with people and institutions used by other groups, racial biases create major barriers to equity and amplify disparities including access to medical care, education, employment, policing, mental health outcomes and physical health.


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