Bias for Beginners

Implicit Bias.

Unconscious Bias.

Whichever way you’ve heard of the term “bias,” I’m sure you’re thinking that it’s a starting point to tackling social injustices you’re seeing in the world around you.

You’re half right.

But first …

The first step to tackling social injustices in the world around us is to realize that:

A. Racism is a real thing that we created here in this country.

B. Humans in our world still, to this day, struggle as a result of unreconciled racism

C. Systemic Oppression needs dismantling and seeps into many aspects of our every-day life.

Once we are humans can accept a growth mindset, instead of a fixed one, and A-C can be recognized as facts of life to become initiatives we’re working each day to heal, then we can move on to D: Bias for Beginners …

“When racism is understood as a multidimensional and highly adaptive system – a system that ensures an unequal distribution of resources between racial groups – rather than an individual feeling lodged between individual hearts, then we begin to attack these sorts of inequalities and systems that have long ensured that these outcomes continue.” – Tiffany Jana (co-author of Overcoming Bias)

“But I’m not a biased person”

… but, you are. We all are. Before I delved into D.E.I. (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) work while I was in my corporate job (before fitness in 2015) I thought that I was somehow immune to having biases. “I’m Black, there’s no way that I have biases that impact other people!” … The degree to which I was wrong is no higher than what most individuals (like yourself) think, I’m sure. No part of our human dimension keeps us from the impact of which bias can skew our thoughts, opinions, actions, and exclusionary habits – even if unbeknown to us.

A focus on our internal work MATTERS

When we lead, hire, educate, teach, mentor, parent, guide, coach, instruct, relate, or have any dialogue with others without addressing bias first, we will then enable stereotypes and opinions of exclusion to trickle down. It’s a scientific fact that D.E.I. INTEGRATION (not just training) helps us not to ostracize or exclude populations. NOT implementing DEI principles into hiring and integration within an organization or company or solo-preneurialship can align negative associations with a human group where stereotypes can turn into mountains of discrimination. D.E.I. workshops and pledges don’t mean squat until there are actionable steps happening internally to back them up.

Human dimensions make us unique

No matter if we’re talking about the neighborhood we grew up in, our race, our ethnicity, our hobbies, our marital or relationship status … whatever makes up US, makes up US uniquely. What has happened since the dawn of racism’s birth is a tendency to see differences as a threat instead of traits to admire and learn from.

… Yet, we’re 99.9% the same 

Genetically, we’re made up of the same DNA makeup. So, why do we lean on the inclination to see differences more than we see similarities?

What our brains do day-to-day

Our brains work to process loads of information each day.

Our BRAINS MAKE MISTAKES: trying to process an influx of information. Processing only so many bits of information at a time, we end up processing 99.999999996% of incoming information unconsciously. Meaning, we have no idea it’s happening.

We only consciously retain .00000000001% bits of information …

Our BRAINS LOOK FOR PATTERNS. This includes how we “sort” people in an effort to “save time and effort” in a buzzing external world internally.

How do our brains balance distrust and fear versus social reward when it comes to our perceptions of people not like us?

The DISADVANTAGE is that this “sorting” can then guide our actions towards others on the unconscious assumption that the individual possesses traits included in these stereotypes associated with the groups we put them in.

…  this has implications for the accuracy and fairness of our decision-making and how we treat people.


It takes ALL of us

… Opening our minds, hearts, and eyes to the fact that outside and internal influences around us can continue to exclude humans around us and [even] cause harm if unresolved or unreconciled. Racism happened as a result of white men wanting to maintain their threshold of power over those who they chose to be their labor against their will. The snowball effect of hate starts out as a small flurry. If we want to finally put an end to hate brewing in the midst of humans around us and within ourselves, we have to start to realize that our thoughts can’t be trusted and it takes a conscious effort to do the self-work of healing biases and opinions. Many times these can stem from media, teachings from family, teachings from schools … other times these can stem from unknown origins.

The beginnings of bias work start with realizing that we’ve got 99.999999996% bits of information to sort through to remove stereotypes and propensities.

The next step is truly seeing where our binary (to start) biases exist …

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