You may not be racist.
You may be actively working on standing up against racism.
But racism is so much more than just hate. Understanding racial bias is crucial to knocking down any racism that you may not even know exists in you.
What is Racial Bias?
The definition of implicit bias is:
“The unconscious attitudes, stereotypes and unintentional actions (positive or negative) towards members of a group merely because of their membership in that group.” -ADL.org
Implicit Racial Bias is:
“It is important to distinguish implicit racial bias from racism or discrimination.
Implicit biases are associations made by individuals in the unconscious state of mind. This means that the individual is likely not aware of the biased association. Implicit racial bias can cause individuals to unknowingly act in discriminatory ways.
This does not mean that the individual is overtly racist, but rather that their perceptions have been shaped by experiences and these perceptions potentially result in biased thoughts or actions.
No one is immune from having unconscious thoughts and associations, but becoming aware of implicit racial bias creates an avenue for addressing the issue.” -JRSA.org
How does Racial Bias start?
I wrote a post about the American Marketing of Black people in this country, you can read about it here. But to sum it up, Black people are marketed to our nation as uneducated, dangerous, scary criminals and because that is who “they” are, they should be less valued.
You are marketed this message by the movies you watch, the books you read, the news articles and basically any format that you take in information that is mainstream that isn’t first-hand accounts.
On top of that, if you have parents or people of influence in your life that have racial biases weaved into them and they have expressed their feelings of black and brown people, it all has the potential to influence you.
You may have had an experience with a person who is black and that has shaped how you view black people as a whole.
How to recognize your own Racial Bias
Once these racial biases are in your subconscious they start effecting how you see black people.
Here is a list of different ways you may be unconsciously biased towards black people (this list is not a complete list) :
- You may be scared when you’re going on a jog or walking anywhere and you see a man who is black coming towards you. You know nothing about him besides the color of his skin and yet you are afraid.
- If you work in a clothing store and a black teen comes into your store, you may think they are there to steal. But the only information you know about that person is the color of their skin.
- When you see a man who is black walk into a space that you are in and he has a hood on, you are afraid. Yet all you know about him is the color of his skin.
- If a black person is accused of a crime you don’t question it, because it seems automatically true to you. But you know nothing about them besides the crime they committed and the color of their skin.
- You think jobs are being taken away where you work because of equal opportunity. When in reality black people would not be given those jobs based on only their work ethic and are likely to be rejected based solely on the color of their skin. They could have multiple degrees and be highly qualified but not hired just because their name is Jamal.
- When a person who is black gets angry you think they are unapproachable and intimidating. When they are just a person expressing their anger, the only difference is the color of their skin.
- You assume that your black counterpart is less intelligent than you.
- You assume that your black friend can speak for all black people, even though that would never be expected of a white person.
- You treat a black person differently based on what they are wearing, if they have a suit and tie on then they seem respectable, if they are in a hoodie and sweat pants they seem dangerous.
- If you see a man who is black sagging his pants you assume he is in a gang and don’t consider that this is just part of the culture whether you agree with it or not.
- You view black children differently than white children. A white child in your eyes is full of innocence, but for some reason, a black child is not.
- When you see a black teenage boy, you don’t see him as an innocent child, like his white counterpart, you see him like a man who is capable of causing you harm.
How to confront Racial Biases
When you begin to recognize what is in your subconscious about black people it is easier to confront those bias thoughts and start to dismantle them.
As you read the list, I began to do this work for you, at the end of almost all of those statements I expressed what you need to recognize.
If all you know about a person is the color of their skin- you know nothing about them at all.
Skin color does not define a person, and a person who is black should be afforded the same opportunity to show you who they are as an individual as someone who is white.
If you can look at a white person and wonder who they are, and what they’re about and want to get to know them that means that they have no biases attached to them at all.
But if you look at a black person and already have negative thoughts about them, then that is bias.
This is the way the American system is built, it is subtle and most people don’t even recognize when and how all of these biases become ingrained in the minds of Americans and in our culture but it is everywhere.
And the sooner you recognize it, the sooner you are able to join the fight of racism and help us put an end to it.
Understand that the agenda of bias is to get you on the side of oppression. Because as long as there is racial bias, it is easier to oppress black people.
Because if you already think that black people deserve it, it is easier for our justice system to treat black people the way they do, including murdering them.
The intent of racial bias is to make everyone believe so much negative about a group of people that when they are oppressed when they are murdered when the system is unjust towards them that you feel ok being silent about it.
It’s time to recognize it and stop staying silent.
If you are a Christian, set some time aside and ask God to show you if you have any racial bias in you. And once you are shown, ask to be convicted every time that bias comes up in your mind so that you can correct it.
In order to confront racial bias you need to have a full understanding of what it is and how it is inside almost everyone in this country, including you.
Please take the time to find the biases that you hold inside you and be diligent to remove them.
If you would like to learn the next step in becoming Anti Racist please click here.