There Is Nothing Casual About Prejudice: The Popular Podcast 'Serial' and the Notion of Implicit Bias

December 13, 2014 4:09 PM

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Like millions of others, I have been an avid listener of the new podcast Serial. Its "one story, told week by week" is the true case of Adnan Syed, who was convicted of and is serving life in prison for the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. Host and executive producer Sarah Koenig analyzes the evidence and lack thereof, transcripts of the interrogations and two trials, and presents recent interviews of witnesses, former classmates, family, jurors, and Adnan himself. Koenig seems to genuinely vacillate between believing Adnan is innocent and guilty, and early in the podcast she invites listeners to start paying attention if we want to solve this mystery with her.

Adnan is a Pakistani American, and Hae was Korean American. The racial and cultural identities of the protagonists have prompted some to characterize the podcast as an "immigrant story," and to criticize Koenig for not grasping many aspects of this narrative. While I agree with this analysis, I did ...

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