A reminder, this week we are looking at a quote each day from our “Westwood Reads” book, “The Myth of Equality.” Join us on Zoom for a discussion TONIGHT at 7:00 p.m. Even if you have not read the book you are welcome to join.
“Implicit bias is a relatively new area of study that first came onto the scene in the 1990s and has since garnered significant research across a wide array of issues. The phrase refers to ‘the attitudes or stereotypes affecting our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. . . ‘
When racial bias is implicit, it is easy to overlook, so we assume that we’re free of racism. . . In short, this bias is much more subtle and hidden than explicit racism.
To whatever degree implicit racial bias is present, it is dangerous. For Christians who are working for a society of the equality amid diversity that is God’s dream for the world, implicit bias is the battleground where we need to fight the hardest.” (143, 145)
I am not a racist. I’m a good person.
Have you ever said those words? I know I have. But the book we are reading challenged my perception of myself. We tend to think of racism as the explicit type –like we would see in the Jim Crow era (or in the Charlottesville demonstrations). Since we are not like that, we must not be racist –right?
The author of our book reminds us that there are two levels of racial bias –explicit and implicit. It’s the implicit bias that we have to worry about. Why? Because it’s always with us, it affects our actions, and we don’t even know it. All our outward expressions of racism might be gone. But there can still be implicit racism that lurks beneath. When we interact with a person of color, that implicit bias can be underlying our actions without us even knowing it.
This is a little depressing, no? I WANT to the person who is free of racial bias –explicit and implicit. I want to model what the Kingdom of God is like. How can I do that if there is something I’m not aware of driving my actions and thoughts?
Implicit bias can be dealt with –but only if we are open to the possibility of it. This means taking on the role of investigator. It means observing how we interact with people of color, including those speaking a different language. What feelings arise in us, and how do those feelings drive our behavior? It means being open to someone telling us that something we said or did was insensitive (without getting defensive). It means praying –a lot. Praying for wisdom. Praying for guidance. Praying for God to make visible what is invisible.
This is not easy work. But God did not say that establishing God’s Kingdom would be easy.
God we ask that today you would begin the process of showing us our implicit racial bias. Give us eyes to see what is really going on in us. Give us the courage to face it. And give us the strength to change.