Our cognitive system is tuned towards spotting the uncommon and unexpected. We propose that individuals coming from minority groups are, by definition, just that – uncommon and often unexpected. Consequently, they are salient in perception, memory, and visual awareness. This minority salience creates a tendency to overestimate the prevalence of minorities, and underestimate the prevalence of the majority group, thus leading to an erroneous picture of our social environments – an illusion of diversity. In 10 experiments, we found evidence that the presence of minority group members is indeed overestimated in memory and perception, and that masked images of minority group members are prioritized for visual awareness. These findings were consistent when participants were members of both the majority group and the minority group.