Ferndale Group Encourages People to Take Implicit Bias Test

Ferndale Group Encourages People to Take Implicit Bias Test

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Feb. 5, 2018)

Ferndale, MI  – A Ferndale Group dedicated to fairness and equality is introducing the community to a test that can help people uncover unconscious biases.

The Ferndale Inclusion Network, which has its roots in Citizens for Fair Ferndale, has been looking at ways to proactive create a culture of diversity in the community. They hold quarterly events, and most recently began promoting the Implicit Bias Test created at Harvard University.

The online test, located at https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html, has different variations, including those for race, for sexual orientation, for weapons, for religion, for body type and more. The test-taker has to correlate images and words, and is often found to associate positive words more readily with the stereotypical positive social norm.  For example, when looking at black and white, it is easier for people to associate black with bad and white with good. The idea is that while people may not consciously realize they make this association, it is still part of their perceptions.

Kat Latosch is a diversity educator with her own consulting firm, and a member of FIN.  When asked to explain Implicit Bias she said “There are a couple of elements to implicit, or unconscious, bias. One, it’s unconscious – you don’t know you have it.

“Two,  Its bias – it’s a preference for one over another.

“And three, it can contrast with your deeply held beliefs.  One slide I sometimes use to share the impact of element #3 is a quote: ‘There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery… then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.’    The quote is from Reverend Jesse Jackson.  Even though we may ‘intellectually’ feel that all people are created equal and should be treated equally, our gut instinct often kicks in before our rational thought.  Those gut instincts have been trained from birth, often from forces beyond our control and beyond our own awareness level.  Most people two take the Implicit Association Test and select African Americans will show a slight to moderate preference for white people, even African Americans who take the test.  This is a testament to how deeply beliefs of white supremacy are rooted underneath our conscious thinking.  Self-awareness is one of the first steps toward making thinking and behavior changes.  If you don’t know you’re doing it, how can you change it?”

Ferndale Police Chief Timothy Collins made a video encouraging people to take the test, and the FIN Facebook group has a survey question about which tests people have taken.

Once people take the test, it can help them to be more conscious of their own responses, and it can foster discussions among friends, family and neighbors.

Kat Bruner James, an attorney who lives in Ferndale, is part of CFF and FIN.  “I hope that recognizing implicit bias has changed the way I respond; I hope that I’m taking the time to seek additional perspectives. I also don’t want to pat myself on the back when I know that there’s always more work to be done,” she said.

LaTosch teaches techniques that can help.  “There are a number of strategies for reducing implicit bias.  One strategy is something anyone can do, anytime.  It’s as simple as intentionally seeking out relationships with people who are different from ourselves.  It breaks down barriers – it grows our compassion and empathy for someone who we might otherwise be unconsciously labeling ‘stranger’ and ‘different.’  When we build personal relationships with people who are different from ourselves, we begin to understand that they are not so different after all, we see our common humanity and have love and compassion.  And the more of those kinds of relationships we have, the less we will make negative assumptions and judgments in the future.”

FIN has over 100 members in the online discussion group.  Join in the discussion at https://www.facebook.com/groups/FerndaleInclusionNetwork/.

Take the test at https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html

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