Implicit bias is when one can voiceably reject stereotypes, but the brain unconsciously holds negative associations or prejudice toward other’s characteristics. It is usually something picked up from influential surroundings like, parents, peers, or the media.
It affects a person’s unconscious thinking and decision making, and eventually can be linked to mundane or consequential discriminatory actions. Behaviors that can range from poor social interactions with someone of the opposite gender to avoiding a coworker because of their sexual identity.
If adults have these implicit biases it will influence their children, although, it is not certain that the child will have these same biases as their parents. Almost anything can cause an implicit bias to develop in younger minds, but parents do play a big role in their children’s lives.
Some communities have noticed weight biases developing at a young age. Children developing implicit biases, start to tease and stigmatize others of the same age who are overweight; meaning it as a joke.
The children who are overweight start to push away from their community, excluding themselves from a group, and developing an emotional detachment. Those children isolate themselves in their community and develop a weight bias against themselves, thinking there is something “wrong” with themselves.
The best way to reduce the development of implicit biases that lead to destructive behavior in communities is to motivate each other. Whether for children as young as seven or full-time working adults, expressing ones own unbiased thoughts and actions with others can still influence others. Even though it will not happen right away, the person will at least think about it and possibly remember it, at some point in their lives.
In order to expand minds with knowledge on social behavior and prejudiced judgement, one must prevent the development of biased opinions about race, sex, and ethnicity, in themselves.
People must be willing to acknowledge their own implicit biases within their community and have the patience to learn about others. Not just learning about where they live or what someone different looks like, but cultural practices and shared knowledge about people other than themselves.
Schools have the perfect environment to introduce this topic, including the space and means to inform the students of implicit biases and what it entails.
Knowing someone else’s thoughts and implicit biases on topics such as race, gender, religion, etc., can bring out the similarities between those who deem themselves or others to be different in their community. Knowing that someone who identifies themselves differently has the same knowledge and misconceptions as everyone else; a foundation of understanding can be built or a common ground is found.
This can result in a foundation that reaches out toward everyone in the same community, regardless of age or skin color. Motivating children to work toward social justice, correcting their implicit bias, stepping in the shoes of someone else, and asking how they would react to the same treatment they gave someone else.
Implicit bias unintentionally and unfortunately brings a community down, but working together to understand each other benefits more than one person and more than one community.
Written by Brielle R. Buford
Edited by Jeanette Smith
The Ohio State University: Understanding Implicit Bias
Open Society Foundations: Implicit Bias and Social Justice
NPR: Bias Isn’t Just A Police Problem, It’s A Preschool Problem
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Chris Lott’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License