Unconscious (implicit) bias – some take-outs from the talk

Dr Benjamin D. Reese (Duke University) presented a well-attended and fascinating talk on Dilemmas of our time: Unconscious (implicit) bias and race relations last night, organised by the Macmillan Brown Center for Pacific Studies at UC.

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This topic is especially relevant to us in Christchurch at the moment, as many of us reflect on the nuances of racism and what it might be like to look or sound different to others in our city.

Dr Reese presented findings from his many years of research in implicit bias. He explained how implicit bias, which is below the level of consciousness, is learned early and absorbed from our environment. This is one reason why it is so important to have diversity of role models in our movies, TV shows and other media.

No one can avoid having implicit bias – even Dr Reese shared examples of his own bias, however you can counter it. You can do this by being aware of your own bias, reminding yourself regularly that implicit bias exists, and by exposing yourself to different ideas and different people to broaden your experience.

On an organisational level, leadership is key but everyone can play a part. When an organisation focuses on diversity, it has a noticeable impact, Dr Reese says.

As always, sharing stories and experiences is part of the journey to better understanding and a more accepting world.

Upcoming opportunities for engage with discussions around racism at UC include:

31 July – Looking and Sounding Different with nine UC staff and students discussing their experience and exploring ways to create a more accepting society.

12 August – Whites Engaged in Antiracist Action: Struggles and Coping Mechanisms with Associate Professor in the Department of Education and Counselling at Villanova University, Krista Malott.