Implicit bias subject of next Community Conversation

Monday, August 3, 2020
Pam Propsom

Confused about what is meant by “implicit racial bias”? Implicit biases are associations made by individuals in the unconscious state of mind. No one is immune from having unconscious thoughts and associations, but becoming aware of implicit racial bias can help us to then address the issue and work to overcome it. The Greencastle League of Women Voters invites you to their Continuing Community Conversation on Implicit Bias on Wednesday, Aug. 12 at 7 p.m.

This meeting will be held on zoom:

The facilitator will be Pam Propsom, professor of psychology and neuroscience at DePauw University. Propsom has been a faculty member at DePauw for more than 30 years, with a specialty in social psychology.

She is currently one of the leaders for the university’s $1,000,000 Inclusive Excellence grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The grant’s focus is to make science and math education more equitable and welcoming for students from traditionally marginalized groups so that they can persist and succeed.

To help make the session more interactive, persons are encouraged to take an online Implicit Associations test prior to the meeting so that you can contribute your questions and insights to the discussion: (choose the race IAT).

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    I wonder if the esteemed professor recognizes "implicit racial bias" as a cultural norm in every culture or if it is seen as merely a white mans disease. (Ethnocentricity is not new or unusual. It has been a thing for about as long as man has been around.)

    Usually this is how it goes now-a-days for the "englightened" and "woke":

    Implicit racial bias = if you are white, you are a racist by way of being. If you cant recognise your racism, its b/c of your implicit racial bias.

    -- Posted by dreadpirateroberts on Tue, Aug 4, 2020, at 9:50 AM
  • In Chapter 3 of To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus said, ''You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... until you climb into his skin and walk around in it'' (p. 39).

    I challenge Dread P and others to join the meeting. It should be enlightening and maybe we can start to understand what has been systematically indoctrinated into we white folk!

    -- Posted by GladysK on Tue, Aug 4, 2020, at 5:49 PM
  • Dread P, she answers your question right at the beginning of the article,

    "No one is immune from having unconscious thoughts ... "

    though I'm not really sure what it means to have an unconscious thought? Isn't that a contradiction in terms?

    THIS scares me if THIS is what the teacher is teaching. Where is the logic?

    -- Posted by letspulltogether on Wed, Aug 5, 2020, at 8:53 AM
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    From a VOX article: "According to a growing body of research and the researchers who created the test and maintain it at the Project Implicit website, the IAT is not good for predicting individual biases based on just one test."

    So the test that the esteemed professor is touting is - by way of its own creators - inadequate for predicting individual biases based on one test. In fact, if you actually read the VOX article the author takes the test three times and gets three different results. Not exactly sound science. But to be fair, psychology is not science.

    Letspulltogether - that doesn't really answer the question b/c saying "no one is immune from having unconscious thoughts..." is not the same as saying "everyone has implicit racial bias".

    Ethnocentricity (ethnocentrism) has been around since the beginning of time. Part of it is the idea that we gravitate and associate with those that are most like ourselves. (See also: de facto segregation) At a basic community level, its tribalism. There are "us" and there are "others". The "others" are always looked at with suspicion, at least until an understanding is reached. Not an understanding between the parties, but an understanding by one party as to the nature of the other party. That may good, bad, or neutral/indifferent.

    Many so-called-scholars, social justice warriors, and the like believe that no one can be racist except for white people.

    However, if you look at many cultures around the world you will see these ideas played out in society. Call a Japanese person a Korean and see how well it goes for you. Fail to distinguish between different people groups within China, get it wrong, and you will find yourself in hot water. Study the many tribal wars that still exist in Africa. There are multiple people groups in Indonesia who are very particular about their identity. These are just a few of the many, many instances of one people group being biased in relation to another people group.

    Is this all implicit racial bias that is bad and should be eliminated?

    Or is it the collective knowledge of one group of people in regards to another group of people learned over time, and whether we agree as to it being "right" or "wrong" it is simply their reality?

    Stereotypes exist for a reason. They are not borne out of thin air. And while they should not be used to automatically discount someone on a personal level without some benefit of doubt or be used to automatically assume good intentions on another's part (MLKjr's "content of character" is always a fair standard), stereotypes can, and perhaps should be, used to make a conscious decision as to the engagement of others. Even Jesse Jackson once said that " “There is nothing more painful to me … than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery, then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.”

    In thinking about the esteemed professors noble (?) goals, I am reminded of the missionary who went to an island of cannibals even after being warned to stay away from there.

    And when his higher sense of purpose over-rode all rational thought and collective knowledge of the people he wanted to engage with... he met them, and his end, on the beach.

    -- Posted by dreadpirateroberts on Wed, Aug 5, 2020, at 10:13 AM
  • The reason implicit/indoctrinated bias (aka systemic racism) only seems to exist in the US as the white man’s burden is because this is nearly the only place where one can get away with complaining about it. The very freedoms which make our nation unique among the world are what enable us to argue about the weirdest things that wouldn’t get a minute of consideration in other parts of the world. Ethnic groups in China, Africa, even Europe are systematically oppressed and making a big stink about it is likely to end them up dead.

    Here, you can anything you want to be. There’s no need to follow the majority. By and large, nothing will happen to you if you go your own way. Don’t want to wear a mask? The majority will call you names and make a scene, but overall nothing of substance will happen. Want to gender identify as a cucumber? Same result. Ridicule, but no real consequence.

    Stand up for your rights to be entirely nonconformist in Syria, and report back on the result. These discussions happen here because this is just about the only place they can happen. This is exactly why we are unique as a nation, why we are the nonconformist of the world: the United States of America refuses to be what the rest of the world was for centuries before us, and what the rest of the world is now. We are our own creation. We do not belong to them, they can’t tell us what to do.

    Want to ban guns in your country? Go right ahead. We won’t be doing that here though. Want to eradicate an ethnic group because their religion doesn’t support your new authoritarian government? That’s on you. We don’t do that here. No matter who you are, what kind of freak you turned out to be, there’s a place for you here, a chance for your voice to be heard. Every single individual in the US can face Washington and cry out “the government, the legislators, and the system can kiss my behind!” and no one can stop you.

    This is why we have these ridiculous conversations here, and hardly anywhere else in the world. This is why people are allowed to say “everyone is racist” and also “only white people are racist” and we’re all allowed to ridicule them for it. This is why I’m proud to be an American.

    -- Posted by techphcy on Wed, Aug 5, 2020, at 10:53 AM
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    Techphcy - well said.

    We do have a lot of 1st-world problems.

    Most other people in most other places are simply trying to survive from one day to the next.

    American greatness is a double-edged sword at time... but I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world.

    -- Posted by dreadpirateroberts on Wed, Aug 5, 2020, at 1:33 PM
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