Bias

I’m listening to a book called Biased by Jennifer Eberhardt, Ph.D. I’m over halfway through and it’s quite revealing. I knew we were biased because I’ve read books like Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink plus others. This book includes scientific studies and her own personal experiences that describe the myriad ways we unconsciously process information. It delves into the neuroscience and psychology of our biased responses and how we categorize and connect things to form implicit and cognitive biases. It’s quite astonishing and alarming.

When having discussions about racism some people are defensive claiming, but I’m not a racist, not comprehending that we’re all racially biased to varying degrees and it can be largely unconscious. It’s ingrained in our habituated brain through social conditioning. What was really fascinating to me was that each race has difficulty identifying facial features of other races to tell different people apart, other races all look the same to them. That explains why people have told me I look like Yoko Ono, lmao. If a child grew up with parents of 2 different races the child would be able to recognize different faces of each race equally, so the facial recognition neurons get set when you’re very young.

The social information we’re exposed to informs our perspectives. Sitcoms over the years have had Asian characters named Kim, so people often call me Kim, lol. The stereotypes seep into our processing systems and wiring to form automatic responses. We are influenced by every piece of information we are exposed to.

Is it an excuse though? Don’t we have the ability to self reflect and question ourselves, to investigate more deeply, and become more mindful and aware of our automatic responses? Or at least admit that maybe we could possibly be biased, not an overt racist, but have unconscious biases?

It only takes a few minutes to read an article on biases like these…

https://www.npr.org/2019/03/28/705113639/can-we-overcome-racial-bias-biased-author-says-to-start-by-acknowledging-it

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/dec/02/unconscious-bias-what-is-it-and-can-it-be-eliminated

https://builtin.com/diversity-inclusion/unconscious-bias-examples

https://www.tolerance.org/professional-development/test-yourself-for-hidden-bias

To create change we must first admit that there is indeed a problem and acknowledge our part we unwittingly play in perpetuating it. Instead of denying racism, “I don’t see color,” and then going about your merry way… why not investigate a bit further and take a closer look at everything including yourself. Be open to learning and contributing by at least questioning if you may be part of the problem and considering what you can do to help. That’s what I’m doing, and will continue to for the rest of my life.

We can make different choices, but we have to be open-minded, willing to learn, and grow. Being closed-minded and afraid never helps anything. The world can use all the help it can get. What if we all did our best to help?

What does your logical heart have to say deep down from the god part of you? What does the loving, caring, empathetic part of you have to say about the value of another’s life and experience? We are all made of the same spirit, so why does the color of our skin provoke so much unjustified fear and aggression? We are all humans. We all inherently deserve the same reverence and respect. We can all put ourselves in another’s shoes and empathize, it’s not rocket science. I’m beginning to think that there are many more people who lack empathy than we realize. So why not try and cultivate more empathy, google it and give it a try, lol.

I will listen to more books about racism and all of its negative effects. I will explore the ways I can help. I want to be part of the solution. I want peace, equality, and justice for everyone. I want us all to be taken care of. I still have hope, faith, and trust that we can save us. We can do better with more of us working together. It’s never too late to start making changes. Transformation is possible, but it’s gonna take all of us doing our part in whatever ways we are able.

We may not be able to reprogram all of our biases, but we can become more consciously aware of them so we have more of a chance of controlling inappropriate reactions. The first step is the acceptance that there is implicit bias. Nothing to feel guilty about there, we all have it. We don’t have to let it run on automatic, we have some conscious control over our actions. We have agency over ourselves, that’s what makes us human. I’m thankful for all the humans who are open and willing to evolve and be more love.

Michelle Miyagi
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