The Reality of Bias and What to Do About It
Biases can exist toward any social group, and are not limited to ethnicity or race. However, the protests happening around the country in response to George Floyd’s death remind us of the fact that racial biases are still ever present today.
There are two types of bias. 1. Conscious bias (explicit bias) and 2. Unconscious bias (inexplicit bias). Conscious bias is a deliberate thought or stereotype toward a person or group. Unconscious bias, on the other hand, are biases we are not consciously aware of. According to Renee Navarro, PharmD, MD, unconscious bias, “everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing.”
What can we do about addressing unconscious bias? The University of California San Francisco Office for Diversity and Outreach recommends the following for individuals:
-Become more self-aware. You can take this test to find out about your own unconscious
-Understand that the nature of bias is a normal aspect to human cognition. This is
helps people be more informed and open to looking at their own bias.
-Have discussions with people from socially diverse groups different from your own. It’s
important to surround yourself with people who can share a perspective different from
your own. These may include people who come from different backgrounds, ethnic
groups, educational level, or physical and mental abilities.
People are more motivated to control their biases if there are social norms in place which dictate that prejudice is not socially acceptable. I believe this is possible to achieve as a collective society if we do the individual work we need to do to become more self-aware and rooted in reality. We share many of the same feelings, pressures, and joys of our human existence no matter where we come from. Let’s move forward together.