2 Informative Resources on Implicit Bias Related to Race
I once facilitated a dialogue on race where two very specific things happened that stood out to me: A person who identified herself as being black and a person who identified himself as being white both said that they were fearful of black males aged 15-28.
That was a very specific demographic.
One thing I was reminded of as a someone who has had personal lived experiences in that very specific demographic is the overwhelming degree to which black males have been and are currently being dehumanized and characterized as a threat to be wary of.
Another thing I was reminded of as a person of color is that as a result of being bombarded on a daily basis with negative messages about ourselves, sometimes we can internalize some of those messages and act them out. This realization can really bring up feelings of anger, guilt and a variety of other feelings as well.
“There is nothing more painful to me … than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery, then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.”
– Jesse Jackson
I always appreciate being in a space where dialogue can take place, because I believe it to be a space where we can be honest about our lived experiences and worldviews that have come about because of those experiences and be supported, and not judged as we examine and challenge what we thought we knew previously, and make room for new information as we discover it experientially.
The honesty that was displayed by those participants was indicative of their bravery, self-awareness, and the safe space that was established, as that type of sharing may have been even more difficult to do in other, more public spaces.
No one really wants to admit that they have internalized racism, that they are racist, have racist attitudes, or buy into notions of White Supremacy. Talk of colorblindness and racism as being a thing of the past ignore it’s deeply embedded roots and manifestations in our mindsets as well as our actions and the results we see today.
Denial can be a formidable adversary, and without conscious intervention those unexamined thoughts and feelings can get pushed further and further below the surface to the point where for some, racism is viewed as being non-existent unless it is explicit and overt.
But if everything is fine these days, how can we even begin to connect the dots to explain how well-meaning people who are white who find themselves being checked because something they have done or said to a person of color? How can we better understand the Jesse Jackson quote? How can we begin to examine the disproportionately negative outcomes for people who are Black in healthcare, education, the criminal justice system, and a variety of other areas?
I’ve been looking into the concept of implicit bias and have found a couple of resources that I’d like to share with you. If you have any of your own, or any thoughts on this in general, feel free to share them in the comment section, or contact me directly.
From the Center for Social Inclusion: A Guide on Implicit Bias
“Implicit bias refers to the way people unconsciously and sometimes unwillingly exhibit bias towards other individuals and groups. In the context of CSI’s work, we see how people unconsciously behave or have attitudes that demonstrate racial stereotyping of people of color. Many of us are not aware of having implicit bias. For a terrific discussion, read this interview with Professor Rachel Godsil from the American Values Institute.
Implicit bias should not be confused with explicit forms of bias, or racism. Explicit bias, or overt racism, involves conscious and knowing discrimination towards other individuals and groups.
Implicit bias should free us from guilty feelings. We are not, individually, to blame. Understanding implicit bias is about knowing how our unconscious attitudes create different social and economic realities for historically stigmatized groups.
Why is understanding implicit bias important?
While conscious bias and preferential treatment are mostly forbidden by law and culture, unconscious mechanisms are deeply embedded in various aspects of our lives. Implicit bias studies have found an impact in many institutions and systems where fairness is critical, including healthcare, education and our criminal justice system.”
For further reading on implicit bias, check out this review from the Implicit Bias Review 2013.
If you have any other resources on implicit bias, feel free to share them here.
From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins, MSW