Confronting Racism

 Glenn Bigonet, M.A.

Social Activist for Racial Equity

Facilitating Discussions about Racism

 

617-462-6642

gbigonet@icloud.com

           

 

Unconscious/Implicit Bias

 

"Your body puts each new body it encounters into one of two categories:

safe or dangerous. And many white Americans - no matter what they think

or believe - put unfamiliar black bodies into the dangerous category." 

Resmaa Menakem

 

Much of racism today shows up as unconscious or implicit bias. The tricky thing about these biases is that we don't usually have much awareness that we have them because they are unconscious and they can be completely contradictory to how we consciously think about racism and people of color. Although implicit bias is below our conscious awareness it greatly affects how we respond to others particularly in moments of stress. These biases typically become noticable when we watch how we react in our body during different encounters with people of color or in our first initial thoughts that come to us during such encounters. We may notice oursleves tensing up, crossing the street or avoiding in some other way, grabbing for our wallet or purse, becoming extra friendly and nice, etc. Or we may notice thoughts pop into our head that don't agree with how we want to think about race such as people of color are not as smart, scary, criminal, deserving their lower status in some way, etc. 

 

These biases are the result of a bombardment of messages we get from many levels of our society from our family, friends, teachers, media, employers and politicians. These multitudes of messages can't help but sink into our unconscious where they affect the way we act and react unless we bring them into our consciousness and examine them.

 

Where we don't have conscoius awareness of these biased it's really hard to identify them without taking effort to look for them. Most people have no idea that they have such biases or how they are effected by them. One great way to identify your level of implicit bias is to take the Harvard Implicit Bias Test on race or any one of the other topics they list there. I took the one on race and was ashamed and embarrassed when the results came back that I have a strong preference for my own race. I expressed these feelings to the acquaintance that recommended the test to me who I've always thought was much more open and progressive than I was and he said he had the same reaction when he had the same results.  I encourage you to click on the link and take the test yourself and see what your level of racial bias really is.

Copyright © 2020   Glenn Bigonet, M.A.