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Week 1: Unconscious Bias

2013 January 10
tags:
by Kira Banks

Welcome aboard! When I first mentioned the idea of a racial baggage challenge, it was a joke. “The Biggest Loser” was debuting that night; I was reflecting on new year’s resolutions and race relations. But then, people started “liking” my post and declaring “I’m in.” So, here we are. My hope is that as you engage in the various activities you

1) learn more about yourself and others,

2) understand the dynamics of race in our society, and

3) begin to see ways you can interrupt the cycle of racism

….. to minimize the ways race weighs us down.

This journey to shed racial baggage will last 8 weeks. You can jump on and off as you please. Thanks for being willing to jump on board.

Oddly, we will begin within. To rush to focusing on learning about or befriending the “other” without first examining oneself is…. well, dangerous. Unexamined, our assumptions and biases get in the way and make across group interactions difficult.

So, we start with examining our own personal bias. You might say, “I don’t have a prejudiced bone in my body.”

To that, I would say, “think again.” We ALL have them, and that does not make us, our parents or our families bad people.

The biggest lesson is to be aware of your biases rather than deny they exist. Awareness will pave the way for the rest of our challenge. So, resist the urge to skip over this step assuming you are one of the “good ones.” Each one of us could benefit from self-reflection to become more aware of our unconscious biases.

Goal for Week One: to get a baseline and begin to develop an awareness of our unconscious biases.

Challenge for Week One:
Your task for the week is to go through at least one of the following IATs: Race, Weapons, Asian, Arab-Muslim, or Native (this will make sense when you get to the site and will take about 10 minutes). Keep your results somewhere where you can refer back.

The implicit association test (IAT) is a task that reflects the possible disconnect between what we consciously say and what we unconsciously think.

That’s it! It’s that simple.

*For bonus points, talk about your results with someone you trust.

**For extra bonus points, take this quiz now so that you can compare your results at the end.

Let me know how it’s going!


9 Responses leave one →
  1. Jack Burke permalink
    January 11, 2013

    Hi Nicole/Kira
    Took the IAT…assumed that I would score “well” reflecting how “enlightened” I am…Opps!…gonna have to re-consider. Eye-opening – Thanks…Jack

  2. January 22, 2013

    I am so excited about this challenge! I try to work on the racist/sexist/homophobic/ableist/transphobic/classist crap that I’ve absorbed. I think this challenge can help me be more intentional about it. I’m going to go catch up. :)

  3. Jayne permalink
    February 21, 2013

    Okay, I’m finally getting on board! And I think I WILL have to discuss this with a friend because the result of the IAT leaves me wondering if I’m looking for an “enlightened white lady” gold star, or if I’m internalizing an unhealthy “colorblindness”, which is certainly not the goal. Kira, thanks again for this! I’ll be catching up and tuning in!

    • Kira Banks permalink*
      March 18, 2013

      So glad you joined in! I look forward to your thoughts.

  4. Lauren permalink
    April 1, 2013

    I love how you break it down into chunks, make it accessible, and as kind as possible. So much to learn from your style of activism, as you know. :)

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