Understanding Implicit Bias

I watched Verna Myers’s TED Talk this evening.

Have you taken the Implicit Bias Test? If you do, be forewarned that you may discover things about yourself that you are not ready to deal with.

What I found really refreshing in Myers’s talk is that she offers a way to combat implicit bias: simply expose yourself more “awesome Black people” to “dissociate the association that happens automatically in [your] brain.” This actually works!

What tends to happen, however, is people reinforce negative biases by confirming their stereotypes. Myers says, “Biases are the stories we make up about people before we actually know who they are.” This is true in part because we do not have “authentic relationships” with people who are different from us.

Myers’s last piece of advice for changing our biases is “when we see something, we have to have the courage to say something, even to the people we love.” This last one is really hard for me personally, as I have written about previously, because I have a deep-seated fear of confrontation. I am, however, working aggressively to overcome this fear. Myers is right. I have replayed so many conversations I should have had in my head over the last few weeks.

If you’re interested in learning more about your biases, you can take the Implicit Bias Tests. There are several different ones. They are well worth your time for learning more about your own biases so that you can begin the work of combatting them. This is important work. I have been having a conversation over on LinkedIn with Jeannette Lee Parikh, who said today that the “teacher needs to be anti-racist. If you are a teacher, you need to get to work on understanding and combatting your biases because a wealth of research demonstrates the myriad ways that bias harms children.

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