If you think racism is dead in America…

… just watch what happens when the Simple Misfits run an experiment with two different people — one white and one black — attempting to break into a car.

Not only do the police show up within minutes of the black guy’s attempt, but at the end it looks like they have half a fucking squad there to handle him despite him being completely cooperative with the officer. Meanwhile the white guy spent half an hour doing the same thing and a passing cop didn’t even stop to question him about it.

A few years back ABC News did a similar experiment in a park where they staged a bike theft:

In that experiment some folks did question the white guy who admitted that he was stealing the bike and then didn’t bother to do anything else about it, but when the black guy showed up suddenly it was a showdown. Even more interesting is when they bring out an attractive blonde woman to steal the bike and people actually help her do it.

To be fair, there’s more than racism at work here. This is a perfect example of cognitive bias in action. Specifically in relation to racial stereotypes. Our culture has long reinforced the idea that white people are good and black people are bad and when confronted with situations such as these that bias tends to show up. The best way to avoid being biased is to be aware of our tendency to engage in it when and where we can. At its worst it ends up putting innocent people in jail and/or allows guilty parties to escape.

Found via Boing Boing.