One consistent message I deliver in presentations on LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) is the importance of changing our view of bias. Most of us think of bias as a simple distinction that good people don’t have biases and…it is only bad people who have them. In reality, we all have biases.
Some are obvious (and conscious) to us, but others may not be. We have all collected certain implicit (or unconscious) biases throughout our lives. We absorb them in our daily life from our families, friends, communities, cultures, faith, media, society and others.
If we continue to only think of biases as something “bad” people have, we’ll never allow ourselves to become aware of our unconscious biases. If we allow ourselves to be open to the possibility that we’ve absorbed some biases from our surroundings (through no fault of our own), it becomes easier to identify them and hopefully disrupt our old patterns of thought. A great resource for uncovering our implicit (or unconscious biases) is the Harvard Implicit Bias tests. You can take the tests here.
They have tests on 14 different topics from race to gender to sexuality. After you take a test, the results can be difficult to accept (again, none of us want to admit we have a bias). The results are the key though – they are the turning point, where we can begin to bring those unconscious biases to the surface. For it is only when we identify them, that we can consciously work to educate ourselves enough to change them.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have unconscious biases. I’m certainly not proud of them, but I do feel it’s important to be truthful in order for real change and growth to be possible.