Implicit Biases, New Materials, and Your Suggestions

By Nicole Hughes



Louis C.K. hosted the final episode of Saturday Night Live’s 40th season four nights ago, and his opening monologue has received some harsh criticism in the social media sphere. While most of the criticism is aimed at his discussion of sensitive subjects like child molestation and his comparison of Palestinian-Israeli relations to his feuding daughters, what feels most timely is his discussion of his own “mild racism.”

Max Fisher wrote up an interesting analysis of this bit for VOX, available on the list of links at the bottom of this post. In the article, Fisher discusses Implicit Racial Bias, an oft-discussed topic over on APA’s website.  In the 2012 report “Dual Pathways to a better America” presented by the APA Presidential Task Force on Preventing Discrimination and Promoting Diversity, implicit bias is a hot topic:

“Research has shown that noticing differences occurs automatically. However, while noticing differences might not be prejudiced, noticing differences is often automatically associated with judgments about the differences. Those judgments are often negatively biased and led to discriminatory behavior. Importantly, research finds that these processes that result in a variety of prejudices often occur outside our control.”  

Considering these implicit biases can be a lot like having to source any material you plan on referencing in your research papers:

Sure, so-and-so makes a great point that supports my thesis, but who is so-and-so and what credentials are possessed? 

Sure, my gut reaction is this, but why do I think that way and what led me to those conclusions?

In an effort to facilitate these often difficult discussion, the Sacramento Library has purchased for the Diversity Committee a set of “What Stands Between Us? : Racism Conversation Flashcards.”  The cards are broken into 4 sections: “Questions by People of Color for EuroAmericans,” “Questions EuroAmericans Would Like to be Asked,” “Questions by EuroAmericans for People of Color,” and “Questions People of Color Would Like to be Asked.” Stop by and check them out if you like, or maybe get a discussion group going.

Let us know what you think. Do materials like these help to facilitate discussion of sensitive topics? Would you like to see spaces made for discussion of sensitive topics? Do you have a suggestion for materials/books that would better help the Alliant community understand issues like implicit biases? Stop by and chat with us about it!

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