I grew up in a town where, in the 2010 Census, black people made up less than 4% of the population. Growing up, that number was even smaller. The first time I was ever in a diverse atmosphere, I was 25, substitute teaching in a new town. My first class, mine was the only white face in the room. That was eleven years ago, and I've spent the intervening time trying to deconstruct the privilege and underlying racism I found in myself, my family, and my friends, with varied results. I'm fairly disappointed that I still have this bias, slight or no.
I am a white woman. I did not grow up around Black people. I didn't talk to a Black person until I was 19. I was isolated in a small white community. It was a culture shock for me to move to a Southern state with lots of Black people. I learned, however, that it is important that I examine my bias and my privilege and my racist thoughts. Just be friending a Black woman helped. But it went even further. I began listening to Black women speak of their plight in the U.S. And just how alive racism still is in our system, social structure, even and especially our laws. I was afraid I would show a preference for white people after taking this test. I still keep that worry and uneasiness close because it helps me remember that I have privilege and I grew up with bias. I am glad for the chance to remind myself and other white people of bias and privilege. A final thought. I was struck by the word agony as a "bad" word. Having it contrasted with Black people I could only think of how many Black people suffer and die in the U.S. Agony reflects what they are going through. When I saw it lumped in with white people I didn't pause or reconsider that white people cause agony.
Phew! If I’m honest with myself, that was my first reaction upon completing the Implicit Bias Test. Knowing that the vast majority of White (and even startling numbers of Black) folks have moderate to strong implicit bias preferencing White people to Black people, I figured the odds were definitely not in my favor of not presenting some implicit bias. Continue reading