Have you ever taken the time to ask yourself, What choices have I made, and why have I made those choices?
Let us backtrack and maximize this moment! While these can be excellent questions to put in your toolbox for unpacking a variety of different challenges. We want to encourage you to use them right now to increase consciousness about racism, specifically in Black communities.
Yes, that is right, we said increase consciousness. You may be thinking many people in the world have already united in solidarity with Black communities around racism; therefore, the consciousness is present. Our response, although many have begun to pay attention, learn more, show up to advocate, and have started amplifying the voices of marginalized people or groups in the Black community. We have to tell you that is not enough! We also have to look within and address one of the most uncontrollable factors—Unconscious Bias.
The first thing to understand is that unconscious bias is influenced by your background, experiences, and culture. It affects your perception of and attitude toward people, choices, and yourself.
Typically there are categories that your brain has developed an understanding of such as (i.e., race, gender, social status, accents, success, failure); the list goes on!
This association of traits leads to acting on assumptions, biases, or stereotypes even if you do not consciously believe them.
Let's break it down into some of the types of biases we often see within the scope of racism.
1. Conformity Bias- is the act of giving in to peer pressure.
2. Beauty Bias- believing that beauty has only one standard and that beauty makes people successful.
3. Affinity Bias- feeling a connection with someone and letting it influence you. 4. Similarity Bias- to surround yourself with people who are similar to you. 5. Attribution Bias- the personal belief that if you do well, it results from hard work, and if
you fail, it is due to external factors. But if others do well, it is only the result of good luck, and if they fail, it is because of a personality defect or behavioral issue.
6. Confirmation Bias- unconsciously looking for evidence to support your decision. 7. Halo Effect- letting one good thing affect your opinion of an individual. 8. Horns Effect- letting one unfortunate aspect cloud your judgment of a person. 9. Contrast Effect- to compare something or someone to what came before.
After reading the types, you may have thought of a few different scenarios where unconscious bias has affected your space and relationships. If so, we challenge you to start combating those unconsciously biased experiences by acknowledging them and reviewing your decision-making process mindfully with the prompt below, being 100% honest with yourself.
Prompt: "I have made this decision because…"
* Please don't beat yourself up while reflecting with this prompt. The thing about unconscious bias is it happens naturally; it's the result of making many decisions, but stating your intentions openly and honestly can help mitigate the influence of bias on your future choices.
After you are done reflecting with the prompt, consider the list of ways you can become an ally and recommit to the fight with increased consciousness.
● Be open-minded.
● Listen and be willing to talk.
● Be inclusive, approachable, and friendly toward others.
● Create a safe space where all people can be their complete selves every day. ● Attend a cultural event, learn and share your experience.
● Recognize that others may have a different experience or perspective based on their dimension of diversity.
● Monitor assumptions, mitigate bias and be open to a new understanding. ● Confront prejudices and stereotypes.
● Defend others against all discrimination.
● Stay informed about cultural issues.
● Encourage the contribution of all.
● Believe that all people should be treated with dignity and respect.