Why We Should Destigmatize Implicit Bias and Normalize Having Conversations About It

Dr. Jabraan Pasha

It is unfortunate that implicit bias education is receiving scrutiny. All over the country, there are headlines that in some cases, attack the subject of implicit bias, or even those educating communities on the impact of implicit bias. This scrutiny, in some states, has even been converted into policies and laws that move to prevent implicit bias education.

I believe that resistance to this important work comes from two camps. The first camp, of which this blog post is not for, are the folks who look to quell social progress. Those who believe improving the rights of others takes away from their own rights. That is the last thing I will say about that group. The second camp, are made up of people who simply misunderstand what implicit bias is, and what the conversations are actually about. Given our current socio-political environment, it is easy to have misunderstandings.

The primary goal of the work I get to do is change the narrative on implicit bias. To destigmatize it, if you will. If we can help people understand that having implicit bias (as we all do), is not something to feel ashamed or guilty of, a significant barrier to fruitful discussions is removed. The reason I feel comfortable saying that we shouldn't feel ashamed or guilty about having implicit bias is because of where our biases come from. Simply put, implicit bias is the result of the human experience. The associations we absorbed from society, what we take in from the media and the ways our brains process information are all contributors to the implicit biases that we all have. It is inevitable.

Fortunately, there are things that can be done to mitigate the biases that we pick up. Helping people understand that talking about implicit bias is not about pointing fingers or passing blame, is a critical first step before meaningful discussions about addressing our implicit biases can ensue. We must teach this topic with empathy, if we are to expect empathy from those who are learning about their biases.

More News