Healthy relationships with others and the environment starts with the relationship one has with self. Do the lenses through which we view the world measure or honour? One way we do this is by asking ourselves: Am I measuring? Am I honouring? What message am I sending? Another way we do this is by taking time to address our own built-in biases and, as Gonzales (2018) points out “getting comfortable with the idea that we all have them.” Like a fish in water that doesn’t think about the water, so too are we unable to identify our biases without consciously challenging ourselves. Implicit bias occurs when someone “rejects stereotypes on conscious levels yet holds onto them on unconscious levels” (OUSD Restorative Guide).
(Sources: Gonzalez, J. (2018). Restorative Justice in Schools: An Overview. Retrieved from: https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/restorative-justice-overview and Oakland United School District Restorative Guide (n.d.). Retrieved from http://rjoyoakland.org/wp-content/uploads/OUSDRJOY-Implementation-Guide.pdf)
Raybon (2014) states that “we all have biases and stereotypes that come from our brains’ constant effort to make sense of the world by finding patterns. These subconscious patterns can be in complete opposition to our understood and articulated values and beliefs.” Though we may believe that all people are worthy and relational, our interactions with and behaviour towards others may not always reflect these beliefs as “…unconscious bias – or looking for patterns and finding an in-group – is a survival mechanism so basic that it is below our conscious radar. As such, it usually shapes our decision-making without our being aware of it.”
(Sources: Raybon, D. (2014, November 06). Implicit Bias and Why it Matters. Retrieved from https://altarum.org/health-policy-blog/implicit-bias-and-why-it-matters and Gartner, J. (2018, February 12). Why is Unconscious Bias Important? Think of it as a Survival Mechanism. Retrieved from https://blackislegroup.com/unconscious-bias-survival-mechanism)
It may not be possible to avoid the automatic stereotype or prejudice, but if we take time to reflect on and become aware of our hidden biases change is possible. Below is a list of questions to consider as you move forward. Simply asking ourselves these questions honestly, is a start to recognizing our own built-in, unconscious biases.
When I see ____, do I take note of their gender/sexuality/race/faith/socioeconomic status?
When I talk to someone who doesn’t share my demographic, do I feel thankful that I am not them?
When I am working with someone from a different demographic, do I insist on my way and dismiss their ideas without good reason?
When I am working with others, do I feel I am being marginalized/not valued because of my demographic?
A more in-depth test can be found by clicking the link in the article “Test Yourself for Hidden Bias.” Both the test and the article are important for a deeper understanding.
(Source: Test Yourself for Hidden Bias. (n.d.).
Retrieved from https://www.tolerance.org/professional-development/test-yourself-for-hidden-bias)