I was originally introduced to this book through a workplace training session about Unconscious Bias. The training session introduced forms of bias (read as racism, sexism, ageism, etc.) that lead to stereotyping, which further led into a discussion about how these biases affect behaviour and expectations of behaviour – at work and outside of it. While quite often I find that training sessions on these heavy, not-openly-talked-about-or-admitted, topics are usually basic and serve more as introductory sessions, I still find myself compelled to share.
I’ve been to a number of professional development sessions – some useful, some not. (One I attended, at a different workplace, informed me how to match my stockings with my skirt. The course was aptly titled “Developing a Professional Presence.” No thank you.) This session on biases, however, definitely has real world implications.
As a QPOC, any topic that admits to racial and gender discrimination has my attention. It’s easy to place blame and succumb to the practice of “othering,” but Blindspot takes a different route. The authors, Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald, invite readers to test themselves by taking implicit-association tests (IAT) that measure our automatic associations. Of interest is the fact that often our IAT results reveal the opposite of the values we consciously have. Our explicit responses are often at ends with our implicit actions. Despite having egalitarian beliefs, many people still hold the automatic response of white/Caucasian=good and black/dark-skinned=bad.
I invite you to try some of the tests yourself, you may be surprised:
So what does it mean? First of all, it means that everyone’s a little bit racist (and that’s not okay). Despite our apparent progress in the realm of equal rights, we still have much work to do as a society.
Secondly, we need to acknowledge that progress has been made. And change is possible.
Third, it will take continuous conscious effort on our part to effect and maintain that change.
So, happy change-making, friends.