The data on implicit bias in health, criminal justice, education, employment is so consistent that it can be daunting. There’s very little readily available information on how to stop implicit racial bias.
Well, I decided to do something about it.
In this blog post I include ideas and suggestions from a variety of sources to suggest 5 steps that people who want to be part of the solution can take to stop their own implicit bias. Yes, this blog post is a tool to help yourself--before you go and suggest what others need to do. Start taking these actions and see what happens in your world. To help you do these steps systematically and to create some accountability, I’ve started a Stop the Hurt 5 Day Challenge. It’s free and starts on Oct. 29 at 9am. Get more info here.
Notice implicit bias on television, social media images and stories, in comments about "good schools" or "sketchy neighborhoods," etc. One way to test if there's implicit bias at play is to shift the point of view of the story. For example, ask if a straight white man in a business suit would be subject to the same characterizations, treatment, etc. as the person of color in a given news story or movie storyline. Why have we never had a Black 007? Wonder about these things out loud with your children, spouse, business partner, parents, etc. Say it to another human being.
REMOVE ANYTHING THAT CUES NEGATIVE STEREOTYPES/BIASES AGAINST PEOPLE OF COLOR.
Look around your home, office, computers, phones etc. and remove any images or audio that reinforces negative stereotypes. This could include having ONLY European American images. By omission or over-representing European Americans, you are implicitly dismissing the presence, value, contributions of people of color. So, it can be subtle.
Add audio and visual cues that promote positive associations with people of color.
Feed your subconscious something positive. Just as you would deliberately include healthy life affirming food in your diet, you need to give yourself positive audio and visual EVERY DAY. Make it a positive habit to consume something at the beginning and/or at the end of your day.
Do you remember Obama's speech about race in 2008? He mentioned his grandmother's automatic fear of Black men. What are you afraid of? Can you talk about that with someone?
Now this step is a little tricky. I want you to step outside your bubble and go towards a culture or demographic that you have some anxiety or discomfort. Do this respectfully by supporting or participating in something that is public. For example, visit a church that says all are welcome. Check out a mosque or a temple and confirm that your participation would be welcome. Maybe walk into a bookstore or art gallery that focuses on people of color. If you can't do the actual visit today, then set up an appointment. Artists almost always welcome support from diverse audiences.
Step Five is: Talk about Racism, especially your own implicit racial bias.
This step comes from my Racial Justice from the H.E.A.R.T. System. In this case I'm asking you to reflect on your fragility--defensiveness, wounds, guilt, shame , etc regarding white supremacy and racism. I wrote about how the lack of honest self-reflection leads to breakdowns between white women and black women in Black Women; White Women--The Rub.