My mind is still blown. On 4/28 and 4/29 I was lucky enough to go to a racial equity workshop facilitated by the Racial Equity Institute, their website is www.racialequityinstitute.org. This workshop was a deep, deep scuba dive into the implicit biases we have, and how systemically racist our systems and institutions are. Yes, everyone has implicit biases inside- even you. Not just white people, not just black people or Latino people- but everyone.
Everyone has implicit biases; those biases are things society has unknowingly told us to believe. Things like straight hair is professional and curly hair is unprofessional. Lighter skin is prettier than darker skin. Cornrows on a black person is hood, but cute on a white person when vacationing. European names are to be more respected than black or Latino sounding names. Mark is better than LaMark. Sean is better than QaSean, and so on, and so forth. That is the thing about implicit biases- we do not even realize the above mentioned issues are biases.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but you have them. You are not the only person in the world throughout centuries that has zero implicit biases. That just sounds a little cray cray. You have them and it is ok, but the question is do you ignore them and staunchly stand by the idea you don’t have them, or do you acknowledge them and work to fix them? Starting and continuing the conversation is how you work to fix them. Letting the conversation get to uncomfortable points and continuing through those points is how you work on them. Saying you do not have them allows you to continue on the “ignorance is bliss” journey because you can’t fix what you don’t have- right?
It isn’t a surface level issue, as much as it has become so ingrained in us we don’t even realize when it is affecting us- both positively and negatively. Racism is deeeeeeeeeeep in us people. Deep. Racism- when race (white or negro) started showing up in US historical texts, legislation, and laws, has centuries backing it, it has caused a deep divide within society and this divide affects so many things that we really can’t fathom the depth of it.
But, the reality of it is that there is no reason for racism to exist. Basing laws and legislation off race, with race being so multifaceted, is like basing laws and legislation off shoe size. “We the people of the United States of America will not allow people with an American shoe size of over W10/M11 to own land.” How ridiculous does that sound! Well it is the same thing for race. Absolutely ridiculous, yet we truly live and die by it.
There is no biological, or genetic reasoning to it. It was made to give one group of an advantage over another. Understand that ethnicity is not race. Race is what color you are, ethnicity is where you and your heritage are from.
Race is literally the color of your skin. Black or White. That is it. Nothing else. But as we know, there are white people darker than black people, and there are black people whiter than white people. So the color of your skin means nothing. But in reality it means everything, to everyone.
So now that we know we ALL have implicit biases what the heck do we do about it? Well we don’t stick our head in the sand and deny, deny, deny. Instead we do the opposite. We admit, admit, admit.
We admit that there is not only a systemic and social issue, but also a personal one. We admit that we have to fix this broken system and it begins with us. We admit that regardless of having civil rights and laws against racism or discrimination that it is still affecting us on a consistent basis.
We start by having the uncomfortable conversation and keep going through the uncomfortableness. We can’t be afraid to admit what has been unknowingly taught to us throughout our whole life. If you start to understand and change your biases then you can start to help the world be a better place for the future.
If you are interested in diversity, inclusion, understanding racism, understanding how systems and institutions are inherently racist then the Racial Equity Workshop is something you should go to without hesitation. It will be the best $275 you have spent. www.racialequityinstitute.org
I plan on going a few more times just to soak it in. Practice makes perfect.