Unconscious Denial

UnknownReady for some challenging ideas? Today’s police need to view this film, think about it, and then engage in a conversation about it within their ranks and within the community. It’s where this idea of “unconscious bias” comes from.

I found the film to be provocative and challenging. (I’d love to lead a discussion of this film with police!)

“American Denial” is the story of Nobel Laureate Gunnar Myrdal whose study, An American Dilemma (1944), provided a provocative inquiry into the dissonance between our stated beliefs as a society and what is perpetuated and allowed in the name of those beliefs.

Myrdahl, a Swedish researcher and an “outsider” inquired into our racial psyche in the late 1930s and becomes a lens for modern inquiry into how denial, cognitive dissonance, and unrecognized, unconscious attitudes continue, even today, to dominate our racial dynamics.

The film contains archival footage, newsreels, nightly news reports, and rare southern home movies from the ’30s and ’40s as well as psychological testing into racial attitudes.

In it, we hear from experts, historians, psychologists, and sociologists, who work to exhume unconscious feelings we have about ourselves and others.

Fascinated by the Myrdal question, the film’s experts reflect on it with emotion and intellectual rigor. At the core of their inquiry:

How do we reconcile our individual feelings and thoughts with the bedrock values of our democracy?

Please take time to view this film. You can begin here: American Denial.

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