Admitting that I am a racist is not a bad thing, necessarily, but it is a hard thing. If I am honest with myself, I can admit that I have biases about my race and about people from different races than my own. This does not mean I am a bigot. I do not have hate in my heart, but I do have fear. It is hard to admit this because I am biased against people that are biased. In other words, I have accepted the discourse that good people are not biased. But the truth is we all have biases.
Unconscious bias causes unintentional racism and sexism. When we bring our biases to the surface, we can check ourselves and make a change. Here is an example. A white woman is in an elevator. A black man steps on the elevator and the doors close. She tightens her grip on her purse and pulls it closer to her body. She doesn’t even think about this at the time or later. He does. He noticed. He exits the elevator on the next floor.
Same example after she reads this blog. A white woman is in an elevator. A black man steps on the elevator and the doors close. She notices that she feels a little uncomfortable and realizes it is her bias. She makes the choice not to clutch her purse but to relax her grip. He exits the elevator on the next floor.
Checking our biases is just a first step, but it is an important step. Please, whether you agree with me or not, watch this documentary about bias, racism, and fear. There are two white men in the video. One claims that he is racist. One claims that he is not racist. Which of the two men do you think had not reflected on his own biases? You’ll have to watch to see if you are correct.
The Color of Fear by Lee Mun Wah