Justice in the U.S. should be neutral in the sense that it is blind to things like color, religion and other differences. Within the human mind is the ability discern between those that are similar and those that are different. When someone looks like us we are much more likely to hire them and given them the benefit of the doubt while those who look different are much more likely to be seen as having negative traits. When this behavior becomes common place it impacts entire populations.
As one sits and judges a situation those that look similar and come from similar backgrounds are likely to have better options and escape justice than those that look different. It is those similarities that occur over and over in the justice system and in social affairs.
We think this issue occurs only on the ground level but can impact even the investigation of crime and the eventual judgement of who gets judged and who doesn't.
I'm not being a radical here. What I'm saying is that if we want a powerful nation and justice to stand for a level of truth we need to start thinking about what is going on deep in the brain.
Think this can't happen? A study looking at different cultural backgrounds and how they judged faces found that there were noticeable differences even in the evaluation of baby faces (Lehanya, Reddy, Karodia, 2015).
Baby's faces? Wow!
The study really isn't about justice but it does highlight how justice can be skewed by cultural laden perceptions of even baby's faces through ethnocentric viewpoints. We are not always talking about in your face discrimination but that kind which comes from friend or foe evaluations based in our past tribal existence.
We have been programmed for a long time to view people with similar characteristics and friends in the wild for survival and those with different characteristics as potential threat. This deeply rooted survival technique makes its way into the modern court system.
Those who look different and have different religions or lifestyles are likely going to get the short end of the justice stick. Those who look the same and share similarities that allow the judges and officials to see themselves in the other person spark their empathy and in turn less punishment.
Deep in our brain we have learned to create our self-image from those around us in a "looking glass self" sort of theoretical perspective. Those who are different have less connections to our view of our selves from an neurological perspective.
How does this play in out in a real life situation?
Lets say you have one person that looks like you and has the same religious beliefs while you have someone who looks different and has a different religious beliefs. Someone is going to choose between them. This doesn't necessarily mean a judge it could be a group of "judgy" people n a sports club, social club, judges, law enforcement, administrators, political groups, or any other social entity. It is any place where people compare and judge themselves against the views of others.
One of these people are from your social group and the other isn't. One you know to be like you and the other is different. The person who looks the same gets blind support even when their actions constitute a crime because others are encouraged to rally against the "enemy". Of course the "enemy" in this case may actually be the more honest person trying to be helpful while protecting their kids.
That doesn't matter because the halo effect and discriminator viewpoints skewed all of the information presented to a maladapted vantage point. People who would normally be rational become irrational and justified in inappropriate behaviors.
Facts, truth, critical thinking, etc... have no function in irrationality. This heuristic and often skewed thinking happens on the street and in courtrooms and other places throughout our nation. We are not judging by the quality of character but by the quality of our ability to see ourselves and others accurately.
If we are going to grow as a nation we have to start thinking about Justice on a more holistic level. We should have evolved by now as a species to look beyond brand clothing, misinformation, color, political status, religion and much more. We should be thinking about the entire national system and our chance to create something better for our children. If we want to act and judge like monkeys than we will likely find each generation becoming weaker while if we are able to enlighten ourselves we can continue our developmental path to improve our world for the next generation. Justice shouldn't be skewed by our need to justify our own self-worth by condemning the different and praising the profane. American values are about equality and opportunity and self-development.....there are those who support national development and there are those who thwart it in their own self-interest.
Lehanya, S., Reddy, N., Karodia, A. (2015). Evaluation of Municiple Manager's Roles in Strategic Implementation. International Journal of Cross-Cultural Studies, (5), 1-2. Like Here