Daily Riches: Attending to Your Implicit Biases (Dana Bowen Matthew)

“Implicit biases can be absolutely contradictory to your express preferences to be egalitarian, …you want to be fair, you want to be a good person, you want to treat people equally, but you don’t acknowledge or know that you have implicit biases. One of the researchers at Wayne State calls that “averse racism.” “Averse racism” because I’m averse to racism, but I have it and don’t realize it and therefore don’t treat it. …In America explicit bias and explicit racism is pretty much out of vogue, most people would be surprised to hear that when you look at the news, but … the racial climate in the United States has grown more complex, and it is implicit, not explicit bias, that is causing the kind of conflict that we have today. So explicit bias basically says I make a conscious choice to make an inferior or negative judgment of someone based on their race, their color, their ethnicity. I choose it–consciously. Implicit bias is much more subtle. It comes from the storage of all my experiences–what I saw on T.V., what I heard in the political debates, my [childhood] experience on the playground, my neighbor’s experience on their playground–and I gather this and store this in my unconscious mind as what we call “social knowledge.” It gets triggered automatically …I walk into a room, I see a person who is a member of a different race, and automatically all of the information that I gathered from living in the United States, from listening to music and news and newspapers and so forth, automatically it comes bubbling up and begins to influence and color my judgments, and my perceptions, and my conduct–my decisions about that person and how I’m going to interact with them. Here’s the rub: it’s more powerful than my explicit preferences. …People act more in accordance with their implicit biases than with their explicit preferences.”

“My dear brothers and sisters,
how can you claim to have faith
in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ
if you favor some people over others?”
James 2:1

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you committed to treating all people with justice–fairly and equally?
  • Could “implicit bias” be causing you to unwittingly do otherwise?
  • What specific behaviors could you use to “attend to” your implicit biases?

Abba, make me aware of my biases towards others and rescue me from the tyranny of illusion.

For More: Just Medicine by Dana Bowan Matthew (the quote is from a WNYC podcast)

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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