Last week, the New York Times published an article titled We’re All a Little Biased, Even if We Don’t Know It. The article begins by highlighting a recent comment made by one of our Vice Presidential nominees where he dismisses implicit bias as an attack on the character of our law enforcement. Implicit bias isn’t the same bigotry, and discussing implicit bias isn’t a character attack. Instead, addressing implicit bias is a necessary part of addressing systemic discrimination.
So what is implicit bias?
Implicit biases are unconscious associations we possess- and they may even run counter to our explicit values. For example, someone may believe women should have the same opportunities as men, but still hold an implicit preference for men in science careers. These associations are a result of our experiences and the stereotypes to which we’ve been exposed. As the New York Times article states:
“Implicit bias is the mind’s way of making uncontrolled and automatic associations between two concepts very quickly. In many forms, implicit bias is a healthy human adaptation — it’s among the mental tools that help you mindlessly navigate your commute each morning. It crops up in contexts far beyond policing and race (if you make the rote assumption that fruit stands have fresher produce, that’s implicit bias). But the same process can also take the form of unconsciously associating certain identities, like African-American, with undesirable attributes, like violence.”
You can learn more about implicit bias here.
My purpose with this post is not to discuss politics. I believe in a community possessing differing opinions on policies and engaging in a healthy debate to try and come up with the best solutions to our nation’s issues. However, I strongly believe our decisions should be based on facts, and we should look to science and empirical evidence to guide our decisions. Recognizing our implicit bias is an important step for engaging in rational discussion.
I encourage you to learn more about implicit bias; you can take a test to find out more about your own implicit bias here.