Discrimination is still with us. Some folks disagree. Some folks only see the most blatant forms of discrimination, preferring to minimize the more subtle forms. Katie Eyer, at Workplace Prof Blog, mentions that psychology research shows some people just do not see anything but the most obvious forms of discrimination. See her post.
As if in confirmation of Prof. Eyer’s point, Gen.Colin Powell talks about a "dark vein of intolerance" in the Republican party. Sarah Palin used racist terminology to criticize President Obama ("shucking and jiving"). Gen. Powell mentioned the barely rational "birther" movement in the party. Gen. Powell asks why the Republican party would tolerate their wacky theories? He suggests some Republicans tolerate the birthers because they treat a black Democratic President differently than they would a white Democratic President.
That is the core of many discrimination cases. Often, a minority worker is treated differently than a white worker for the same offense. And, yes, sometimes, an employer will believe something wacky about a minority employee that he would never consider about a similar white worker.
Ms. Eyer’s paper finds that many people in American prefer to believe our society is based on merit. Experiments by psychology researchers show a deep-seated belief by Americans that people get ahead through hard work. Such a belief will minimize facts showing clear bias. Just a year ago, there was a rather well-known case in the 11th Circuit in which the court find that the use of the term "boy" in regard to a African-American employee did not necessarily show discriminatory bias. Yes, even judges will minimize clear cases of discriminatory bias.