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)

Daily Riches: Why Racism Continues in the Church Today – Part I (Pete Scazzero)

Pete Scazzero pastored New Life Fellowship in Elmhurst, Queens for over 25 years. The church reflects the demographic diversity of Elmhurst – perhaps the most demographically diverse zip code in the country. Over the years, the church has been forced to deal with racism in unsuspected and painful ways. Here’s why, according to Scazzero, this problem is so persistent:

“1. Failure to capture Scripture’s vision of the church as a multi-racial community that transcends racial, cultural, economic and gender barriers.

The gospel is the power of God that bridges the infinite gap between humanity and God as well as the ‘dividing wall’ between races, cultures, ethnicities, social classes, and genders.

2. Measuring success primarily by numbers.

We want to grow our churches. We want it to happen quickly. The problem is that bridging racial barriers is slow and will rarely produce ‘big’ numbers.

3. Superficial discipleship.

We focus on getting people ‘over the line’ into salvation and connected. We don’t spend an equal amount of time equipping them to be deeply transformed in their interior lives. ‘Who can your child not marry?’ The answer to that question tells us a lot about how deeply the gospel has penetrated a person’s life.

4. Failure to break the power of the past.

Sins like racism are passed on from generation to generation. At New Life we like to say, ‘Jesus may live in your heart but Grandpa lives in your bones.’ Each of us – African American, Latino, White, Russian, Jew, Arab, Serbian, African, Chinese, Korean, and Pole – must take the journey of Abraham. We must decisively leave our family, our culture, and our country and learn to do life in the new family of Jesus.

5. An inadequate, biblical theology of grief and loss.

If I don’t deeply feel my own losses, how am I going to deeply enter the world of those who suffer the sting of racism? Trauma is passed from one generation to the next. We see this most powerfully in overwhelming historical events such as the Holocaust and slavery. Unresolved loss gets buried behind a curtain of silence, incubating fear and shame. Biblical grieving powerfully heals and transforms.” Pete Scazzero

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile,
neither slave nor free,
nor is there male and female,
for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Galatians 3:28

Moving From Head to Heart

  • How well is the foundational principle of Galatians 3:28 being worked out in your church? If favoritism is on display, can you show others a better way?
  • Are you sensitive to your own prejudices? How much does “grandpa in your bones” still affect you?
  • Is your church experience transformative? Are people growing more loving, inclusive, more humble over time?

Abba, teach us a better way in the family of Jesus.

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Thanks for reading. Please share!  –  Bill