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Document Type

Book Review

Abstract

Canadians and Americans alike are often reluctant to honestly confront our respective nations’ histories of racism and discrimination. Unflinchingly describing a legacy of colonialism, genocide of Indigenous peoples, and multigenerational slavery, is a great deal more uncomfortable than the academically “safe” analyses advanced by critical race theory. Simply put, academic conversations around “racism” are increasingly being replaced with conversations about “bias.” This is what legal scholar Jonathan Kahn addresses in his book Race on the Brain: What Implicit Bias Gets Wrong about the Struggle for Racial Justice. Kahn’s book is a response to a trend toward scientism within the interdisciplinary academic communities of cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and the law. Essentially, Kahn contends that there is an ideology of over-reliance on science as a purportedly objective means of understanding complex social issues, such as racism. This trend has resulted in what Kahn argues to be an unwarranted privileging of scientific empiricism in the struggle for racial justice.

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