By Al Heggins
What’s particularly tricky about implicit bias is that these unconscious associations may not align with our espoused beliefs and values. We may espouse “I don’t see color.” We embrace “We’re all just one big family.” We lift up “Hire the best person for the job.” But it’s not quite that simple. You see, we have to break the fever. We have to flip the script again by feeding the truth and starving the lie.
Like any worthwhile endeavor, learning how to test our implicit biases takes attention and work. As you move throughout your day, take time to question yourself as you ebb in and out of different human interactions. Start with something very familiar; ask, “Why do I gravitate to a certain group of folks at school, at work, at worship?” Rather than defaulting to the “I’m more comfortable with them,” do an assessment of what makes you uncomfortable with the people you do not gravitate towards. Sit with your assessment. Turn it over. Deeply think about the narrative, the cultural/social lessons, that have planted the seeds of your discomfort.
Next, look at ways to deconstruct and rebuild that narrative based on their telling of the story.
The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity states, “We generally tend to hold implicit biases that favor our own ingroup, though research has shown that we can still hold implicit biases against our ingroup.”
Favoring our own ingroup ranges from the healthy embracing of our ethnic/cultural/social traditions to the unhealthy application of supremacy. Biases against our own ingroup emerge from internalized oppression developed due to centuries of being devalued and marginalized by systems and propagandized narratives.