Sunday, February 21, 2016

Of Bias and Why It Matters That You Know Yours

In our church group on Racial Reconciliation today we discussed implicit biases. A few of us had taken the Harvard Implicit Bias Test this last week and we discussed our results. One white woman said that according to the test she had shown no preference for African American or European American persons. Another white woman shared that she was embarrassed to say she had shown moderate preference for European Americans according to the test.
I and another woman in the group quickly jumped in to say that we had the same test results: we showed moderate prejudice toward European Americans in the test. Then another member of the group, a young Black man said that his results showed that he has implicit prejudice toward African Americans.

Implicit bias exists in us all.
It's ingrained in us through our environment and our experiences. We can't blame one person or one experience for making us implicitly biased, for our biases are built over a lifetime.

It's the decisions we make ignorant of or knowing of that bias that are right or wrong.

Let me repeat myself: We are all biased. We all have implicit prejudices and studies have shown that changing those prejudices is extremely difficult.

But knowing that you're biased is the first step in the right direction to changing your decisions based on those biases.

Since we all have them, why are biases such a big deal? If we're all biased, who cares?

The trouble is not in the bias but in the power behind the bias, or as Jim Wallis says, "racism is prejudice plus power."

Racism is prejudice plus power.

Racism is bias plus power.

Add power to your bias and it can lead to systemized death.

The trouble comes when the unchecked bias leads to the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner,  Sandra Bland and millions of other Black folks.

I encourage you, white person, to take the Implicit bias test.
The link is right there. It doesn't take long.

Knowing ourselves and questioning ourselves and learning who we are and what we believe, even without thinking, is the first step toward trying to understand others.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Whiteness is...

never getting stared at when I open a package of cookies in the middle of a grocery store.

Whiteness is...

getting smiles from police officers all the time.