You say you can be fair and unbiased?

A psychologist-friend of mine shared this CNN article with me that has really got me thinking.  Opinion: Race, bias and the Zimmerman jury by Richard Gabriel.

If you have limited time, I urge you to read Gabriel’s article, not my blog post.

In a nutshell, he says we are all hard-wired to see the world as “us v. them” and to fear and suspect “others” who are not like us.  In social psychology, it’s called ingroup-outgroup bias, which is the tendency to judge members of your own group more favorably and others more harshly.

Gabriel also discusses implicit bias — “a subconscious negative association that we automatically attribute to others. Both of these cognitive blind spots are dangerous because they run in the background of our minds, all day long, outside our awareness.”

Richard Gabriel  (CNN photo)

Richard Gabriel
(CNN photo)

These concepts were at play with the Zimmerman jury, the author says, and they also infect all of us, each and every day.

Hmmmm!   It got me thinking about Israel and Palestine, Arabs and non-Arabs, Jews and Muslims.

Conversations I’ve had in Gaza with Palestinians about the I-P conflict.  And those conversations I’ve had with Jews in the USA about the same issue.

I can spot the implicit bias, the “us v. them” thinking, right away . . . in others.

What about in myself?

  • Do I have a bias against fat people?  I’ve been told it seems I might but I don’t see it.
  • Do I have a bias in favor of liberal, progressive Democrats?  Yes, without a doubt.
  • Do I have a bias for Palestinians over Israelis?  I’m going to have to think long and hard about that one.

The point is, we need to uncover our implicit biases, see them at work in our everyday lives, own them and defeat them.  If we can.

The author believes that “the more we deny we have biases, the more we broaden and deepen those prejudices.”

I have a lot of thinking to do.  Please read his article.

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