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Boston, US
Posts: 205

Due: Tuesday, November 17, 2020 at 8:00 am (sections 01 and 04)

Wednesday, November 18 at 8:00 am (sections 02 and 03)

Reading: Kenneth and Mamie Clark, "Racial Identification and Preference in Negro Children," 1950 (You will need to download this)

As we saw with the children in Anderson Cooper’s piece for CNN on skin color preferences [see below for the links, in case you missed class], when asked to judge what skin color young children preferred, the general sense was that they preferred lighter skin to darker skin. The question of whether adults preferred a particular skin color again, according to the children interviewed, seemed to be that, “Yes, they do. They prefer the lighter skin colored people.”

Now granted, Cooper’s study was not scientific and therefore could easily be questioned, but it is the recreation of an study done by Kenneth and Mamie Clark in 1940-1941, a study that was at the core of the arguments made in favor of the plaintiff in the landmark Brown v Board of Education case that led to desegregation of the nation’s public schools after the Supreme Court ruled in 1954. A summary of that study by the Clarks in the link as the reading above.

You read Paul Bloom’s “Moral Life of Babies” for class on Thursday/Friday. No doubt that gave you some insight into what we are born with vs. what we learn. But how do we explain how those children responded in the Anderson Cooper 2010 recreation of the Kenneth + Mamie Clark 1940-1941 research? After all, as Cooper remarks, he is conducting this two years after the United States elected its first mixed race president!

And you all took the Implicit Association Test (IAT). Irrespective of which test you took, you received some kind of score by the end. What did the test reveal?

In other words—and here’s two big questions for you to ponder:

(1)Where/how do children learn to discriminate? Is it innate? Is it learned? Is it a combination of the two? And whether it’s innate, learned, or both, can it be undone? When you reflect on this, give some concrete examples or anecdotes, if they support your views.

(2)And, while you are not young children, you are closer to your childhood than your old age! What did the IAT results tell you? Do you think they are a good way to assess the associations you make (aka—your unconscious bias)? Tell us why you find this a valuable exercise—or not—and why.

For any of you who either missed class or want to re-view the clips we watched:

Anderson Cooper/CNN recreation of the doll study:

Part 1: [5:27]

Part 2: [5:18]

brighton, ma, US
Posts: 21

A step in the right direction

After reading about the studies done on babies, I infer that around the third to sixth months give or take a few depending on the kid of course, the baby starts to go through the idea of expectations, decisions, and knowing their surroundings to a point where they are able to make some type of their own ideas of whats going on. As children grow up, they start to notice more about their surroundings and form their own opinions. Through their background and the environment that they live in, preferences that are already are embedded are usually passed down and through othering create dislikes and discrimination to the ladder option.

I would like to argue that children learn everything. In the experiment they tested their ability to expect two objects being where they were placed before, although it is subconsciously they learn to expect, perceive, and later on judge. Of course due to the environment that they are exposed to, everyone eventually learns about discrimination. Subconsciously through the interactions that they see, what they are taught, and their environment they learn bits and pieces of discimination because it is prevalent in our society today. When I think about my childhood, and how I was raised, I was really influenced by the media I consumed. That meant hours of Mr. Rogers neighborhood (main character a white male), caillou (main character being a white male), Lion King (Scar is a darker color than the rest of the lions), and Aladdin ( Jafar is of a darker skin color than both Aladdin and Jasmine). Children don't learn to discriminate, but the system that they are born into teaches them that good is white and bad is black.

As we progress as a society, there is more representation in the media we consume as a child but that is only one factor that plays into the discrimination that we learn to have. Although as we keep growing we will learn more about the world. For me, I remember clearly when I had taken my first bus ride that I can remember, my mom told me to always clutch my purse whenever a person was by ( she has a lot of experiences with getting pick pocketed on the train). Although when a black male had walked by she grabbed my bag. Its the small instances like that that teach us that we are born into a system where the trust that we hold for some people aren't the same for others. My mom’s best friend from high school is black, yet she still subconsciously has a bias. Now when I turned thirteen, I was able to learn about the systematic racism that is embedded into our world, through that, you can see how unfair it is for a child not to have these preferences with everything that they are exposed to. After learning about the corrupt system, my automatic response was feeling guilty for even thinking of clutching my purse. Over the years of learning, researching, and having these difficult conversations, I feel educated enough to understand the system and understand how it being this corrupt since the start of this country has shaped my views. I would never say that I have no bias because I always feel like there is room to improve and subconsciously I may still have some biases. I honestly dont think that it will come undone completely because our early years are such a big component to who we become in life, although I think there are a plethora of ways to improve your views in order to make strides in the right direction.

The IAT results told me I had no bias between light and dark skin. I was surprised by this assessment, not because I don't feel like I treat people of different skin colors differently, but the overwhelming research that I have read about telling me that the way I was raised will have a permanent effect on my views as a person. The way I was raised with immigrant asian parents, in general they were never as educated as I was about the systematic racism embedded and therefore did not understand that our society has made it significantly harder for my black peers to get ahead than for me. I think that it is definitely a way to assess the positive and negative connotations between races, although I feel like the way we took the test had a big impact on how focused I was while taking the test. For this to be extremely effective, I would rather have been blinded and told to just take the test instead of knowing of the reasoning behind it. I found myself messing up the same amount on both of the parts although when it switched up to having bad connotations and white faces and good connotations and black faces, I found myself focusing harder to not get things wrong. This exercise could potentially be effective as they have taken variables like starting first and adding more questions to even out the playing field and the use of using black and white images, I just do not think that the way we practiced it was doing the experiment justice. Also bringing up a point that was brought in pass, these are words and pictures, If we had to do this in person with people, there would be no question of people reacting differently. The experiment was so straight forward, that I felt terrible for pressing the wrong button. For this to be an effective experiment, it needs to be a blind one, or at least a one that hides its motive better. I remember seeing a video that my 8th grade teacher had shown me about the subconscious bias that many people have. They had done an experiment where people would sit down at a computer and were told to do an experiment that was very similar to the one I had taken. Although instead of comparing words and faces, they were told to hit a certain button for people who were holding a gun and a certain button for anything else. In my opinion, this experiment was thought out more because it was completely random while words and the faces were just told to be sorted. The results of the gun experiment were astonishing as people were more likely to assume a black man who wasn’t holding a gun to have one than a white man holding one. It was a controlled experiment while this one, in my opinion, was too obvious to get wrong.

I also wanted to pose the question, if we took this test before this year with the amount of movements towards BLM would there be a significant difference in our answers? I’ve always thought that as we go to Boston Latin, we are open minded and are aware of the amount of oppression around us even with our recent past and oppression in our school. I know that over the past few months, I have learned so much about the systematic oppression our country faces, and I wished I had taken the test before to see if the last year, with this new education, would my view be the same?

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 25

Media is Key

Children learn to discriminate from society, specifically from the subliminal messages they get from the media they consume, and from their personal experiences with others’ biases, as @thesnackthatsmilesback described with their anecdotes about children’s cartoons and learning to clutch their purse. It seems obvious to me that discrimination is not innate—how could it be? Could there really be something in our psychologies that hard-wires us to see Black people, gay people, immigrants, as inferior? Certainly not. Instead, tv shows that show Black people as poor, or criminal, or uneducated, books that paint their position as the helpless victim, movies that depict white people saving them, all feed into our racist biases and ideas without us knowing it. And in person, these ideas are often only cemented. When we grow up hearing that Roxbury, a majority-Black area, is Boston’s “bad neighborhood,” that only reinforces what we’ve learned from tv shows. So too do the reputations of cities like Detroit and Baltimore with large Black populations.

Without essential context, we lose our ability to resist the next conclusion, namely: given the reputations of these cities/areas, what various media have told us about Black people must be true. After all, Detroit does lead the nation in crime rates, and Boston’s Black population holds disproportionately less wealth than its white population. When a child growing up in Boston sees more Black people being impoverished than white ones, we can easily see why they might start to make conclusions about which skin color is better. The vital context here is that this is not just the natural state of things. This is not just “the way it is,” or a consequence of Black people’s “laziness" or an inherent inferiority to white people. (Of course, no one would ever say this, or even consciously think this outright- but it is something that exists in the back of our heads when we lack important details.) It is instead a status quo that is the result of racist intentions in the past and still today (e.g. redlining, voter suppression). Basically, an important way to combat the biases we pick up is to contextualize them with more information.

Another example: a child might learn to associate all Muslims with terrorism, after seeing instances of Islamist attacks on the news. Since the United States has an extremely small Muslim population, many children would not have real-life experiences to contradict this obviously irrational association. They would be missing key parts of the story: attacks committed by non-Muslims, especially white men, are not often called terrorism; one billion other Muslims exist throughout the world, and they are living their lives just like the rest of us; and Islam is no more violent a religion than Christianity or Judaism. Context and better education are the first step.

Unfortunately, however, awareness alone isn’t enough. Our subconscious biases will usually persist to some degree, even if we have a strong awareness and concern about them.To answer @thesnackthatsmilesback’s question, I think that if we’d taken the IAT test last year, there might have been a slight difference in our answers, but not a major one. I really feel that unconscious bias isn’t undone very easily, but I do recognize that the racial reckoning that began in June definitely was a first step to undoing it, by making people more aware about it and more motivated to attack it. The best tool we have, in my opinion, for combatting bias is the same tool used to introduce it: media. If movies that enforce the white savior complex are destructive, films which tear it down are just as constructive. If children drawing these negative conclusions about Islam were exposed, say, to women in hijabs just being regular human beings in the media they consumed, would their biases be reduced? If this happened consistently, I think they would.

Representation in tv shows, books, movies, plays, musicals, and other arts are not only essential but extremely beneficial. If children are similarly exposed to Black people in more positive contexts, which reflect their full range of potential as humans, their biases would likely be less extreme. This is not the cure-all, but it is a promising remedy for a major source of implicit bias.

Finally, I will say that the IAT can be helpful, but perhaps wasn’t as much for me. I also got “no bias” for darker or lighter skin types, but I’m pretty skeptical of this result- as a member of a colorist society, how can I be colorism-free? I think this test is helpful in its ability to illustrate the concept of implicit bias, and how it works, regardless of the result you get, but isn’t necessarily a great gauge of how biased you actually are- it’s good only as a means of informing someone that they are biased in the first place.

Boston , Massachusetts, US
Posts: 21

Overriding, not undoing, our unconscious biases

Understanding where our inherent biases come from can be challenging. In most cases, we don’t consult our unconscious judgments when making a decision, but rather we simply make a choice without even realizing that we’ve been influenced by our own subconscious. In the modern world, we seem to be constantly faced with choices from every which direction, and our instinctive judgments become more needed than ever in our lives.

I believe that children learn to discriminate from as soon as they are old enough to comprehend differences in the world around them. (In this context, discriminate is different from the topic of racial discrimination; for this instance I solely mean the process by which children differentiate between things.) Learning how to tell things apart by contrasting how you perceive them is a key part of the development of every child. Children learn to tell the difference between a red ball and a blue square based on their visual clues; they learn to tell the difference between eating a mouthful of chocolate versus a mouthful of broccoli via their taste buds. This type of discrimination is innate. Learning to perceive differences in the world from observations that we make is a skill which develops as we get older - we can be taught how to come to these conclusions by different means, but the basic process of discrimination remains the same. (I would even argue that innate discrimination is present within a lot of animals beyond humans - I’ve seen clips of baby monkeys choosing between different shapes and objects)

In addition, regarding the development of racial discrimination, I believe that children’s judgements are solely a result of their surroundings. Utilizing the basic skills which they possess, young children will no doubt initially recognize the difference between skin colors and ethnicities. This can be supported by the original Clark doll study: over 75% of 3 year old children (the youngest age group) correctly distinguished between white and ‘colored’ children [Table 2]. This group has assumedly been exposed to outside influences the least thus far, yet they can still recognize the differences in outward appearance easily. However, in the category of distinguishing the ‘N*gro’ child, they were less likely to choose the correct doll. This suggests that these 3 year old children have not yet understood the societal terms, and thus associated connotations, for different ethnicities, but can only tell the most basic difference of skin color between the dolls. As young children grow older however, they will experience more interaction with people of different races, further adding to the viewpoints which they’ve developed and either accentuating or dismissing their preexisting notions regarding people of certain races. It is at this stage that we all gain our implicit biases; once a child has figured out how to differentiate between people of certain races, it’s in our innate nature to both gather conclusions about these groups and apply them to later interactions. To paraphrase @ernest., at this age children are most likely to be influenced by the ‘subliminal messages’ which we are exposed to, whether it’s coming from the cartoons we watch, the books we read, or even the news we are exposed to. (This is why I support the efforts of groups like Disney, which has been recently creating movies to represent different cultures - many people like to argue that these movies are just another way to sell more money to new markets, which may be true in a sense, but the importance of seeing a figure like yourself on a form of media cannot be underestimated for young and impressionable children.)

However, this previous point begs the question: can these discriminatory views be “unlearned” in a sense? Personally, I believe that discrimination itself cannot be unlearned, but rather ‘overridden’. Going back to the example of the young child eating chocolate versus broccoli, after a few instances of eating a mouthful of vegetables they’ll begin to associate the unpleasant taste in their mouth with that food, thus becoming biased against it. Calling upon their previous experiences, the next time they’re attempted to be fed broccoli, they’ll no doubt resist it. However, let’s assume that under some magical scenario this broccoli began to taste like chocolate - the child will eat it, expecting their usual negative reaction, and instead be pleasantly surprised. This doesn’t mean that their negative experiences will be unlearned, but rather lessened. They’ll be more willing to try broccoli the next time, and if their experience is the same, then the previous discrimination will be overridden even more. In my opinion, this model can also be applied to racial discrimination; the difference is that in the case of racial discrimination, America’s media and stereotypes don’t provide the magical scenario which overrides the discrimination, but rather adds ‘fuel to the fire’ in a sense. Referencing @ernest.’s example, if a child has grown up associating Muslims and people of Islamic faith with being extremists and terrorists, and they have no opportunity to override their learning, then each news story which they see about terrorist attacks will deepen their inherent biases. The same goes for associating people of colour with being low-income and low-class; after seeing many “bad neighborhoods” and poverty-stricken families, the biases will become more deeply ingrained in our minds. After a while, societal stereotypes present within the U.S. will lead us all to draw relatively the same conclusions about different groups of people, and the sad reality is that there are very little ways to override this mindset. Simply based on the rules of our innate judgment system, we will begin to see people who don’t fall into their ethnicity’s stereotype as anomalies, just because we have had so many more experiences with the negative stereotypes.

Regarding the IAT, my results stated that I “strongly preferred” one group over the other. While I’ll choose not to reveal which groups these were, I do have some thoughts relating to that outcome. First, I want to address that I do believe that the test structure had some influence on how my result was determined. Factors within the test’s duration, such as the switch of the associated words, tripped me up more than I expected. I found that most of my issues stemmed from my inability to correlate which button related to which category, and for this reason I believe that my test results may have been slightly inaccurate. Nevertheless, I do believe that there are also very real connections between my results and my own unconscious biases. While I was initially shocked after receiving my results, after some time to process, I can now say that they make sense in terms of the environment I grew up in and the influences which I had around me in my formative years. Without referencing any specific examples, I can confirm that my childhood surroundings and familial perspectives both played a very large role in forming my unconscious bias at a young age, which was clearly reflected in my test result. In addition, while I do believe that this exercise is valuable to an extent for revealing inherent biases, I still believe that unconscious bias can never be fully determined by others beside yourself. As individuals who have grown up in this era of racial sensitivity, we have all unknowingly become masters of hiding our innate judgements in order to follow social guidelines of being respectful to all people.

The sad reality of the current state of our country is that it’s very difficult to erase the racial biases which we all have, to some extent, in our minds. Pre-existing societal groupings, media representation, and American racial stereotypes all play a role creating an overall idea of what each group represents. Nonetheless, I think that the way to combat this reality isn’t to completely erase the pre-existing notions of Americans, but rather to simply recognize our own biases and discriminatory views, and work against them ourselves. Attempting to completely erase the racial stereotypes which have been built up in the United States would be futile; while each one is damaging to whatever group they’re targeting, these statements are all somehow based off of or related to a true fact about a certain ethnicity. These facts are then exaggerated beyond belief, and in most cases, are presented in a way which damages large groups of people in the form of overarchingly negative portrayals. In most American minds, the stereotypes have been engrained for too long to be completely forgotten, or overridden by the contrary as I mentioned in the previous example. There is no large-scale way to erase this mindset - it falls entirely upon the individual. If we want to move forward collectively as a country beyond the racial pitfalls that have been created, Americans must all improve in recognizing their own inherent biases and working to combat them personally, and not simply accepting the societal viewpoints which are perpetuated, but rather thinking critically about them and whether they should be accepted.

Boston , Massachusetts, US
Posts: 21

Pre-2020 vs. Post-2020

Originally posted by thesnackthatsmilesback on November 12, 2020 21:34

I also wanted to pose the question, if we took this test before this year with the amount of movements towards BLM would there be a significant difference in our answers? I’ve always thought that as we go to Boston Latin, we are open minded and are aware of the amount of oppression around us even with our recent past and oppression in our school. I know that over the past few months, I have learned so much about the systematic oppression our country faces, and I wished I had taken the test before to see if the last year, with this new education, would my view be the same?

To respond to @thesnackthatsmilesback 's question, I agree with @ernest. in that I believe our pre-2020 scores would have been nearly the same as our current ones. In my opinion, I have not thought of the recent protests and movements as significantly changing my understanding of race within our country. If anything, the highlighting of such oppressive issues simply draws more attention to the inherent bias which I previously ignored. To reference a point I made in my post, I believe that for deep-rooted bias to be removed, there must be an equal amount of opposite force in contrast to it - while I believe that the 2020 BLM movement was definitely a step in the right direction for highlighting the existence of long persisting issues in our country, I still think that we as American citizens have a long way to go before we can truly overcome our inherent biases.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 20

The Importance of Influence

I never thought about how young discimination could truly begin to influence us, so it was very eye opening to read the Moral Life of Babies article as well as the results of the dolls test. I think that children learn to discriminate as soon as they become observant of the world around them. When they are given choices, such as which snack they want, they are forced to make a decision. This causes them to think about the negative sides of one of the options, introducing themselves to descrimination. Through these small choices they are exposed to, as well as witnessing the differences in the world around them, they are taught they must make a choice, and inturn put something else down. I believe that this discrimination is learned, and absorbed from what children are exposed to rather than innate. Can we unlearn this bias? Personally, I think that it is impossible for one to undo something they grew up believing but, I think that with the proper education you can “override” this mindset like @bluewhale24 mentioned. If an individual grows knowledgeable of their discriminatory ways, there is a possibility to improve and move on from your original beliefs.

As I learned about the dolls test, I noticed that the majority of black children (⅔) preferred the white dolls. 59% said that the black doll “looks bad” while 60% thought that the white doll had a “nice color”. This proves that many kids grew up already having a prior preference of race, frequently white. Although we see that this discrimination and negative attitude towards black individuals decreases over the years, it is concerning that from such a young age children have shaped this view. Clark says the “Crucial period in the formation and patterning of racial attitudes begins at around four and five years” which demonstrates that at a young age it is critical to educate your child and evade environments with inequity.

Overall, I believe that it depends on what the child is influenced by as well as the community they grew up in. The racial makeup of the children’s preschool or neighborhood governs what they are used to and whether they are aware of racial discrimination or have encountered people different than them. Another factor is news outlets, and how they choose to portray certain racial groups. As we saw in the current events presentation today, many sources tend to lean a certain way politically, which shapes many individuals' views. This also pertains to racial bias, because similar to that, many present minorities in negative ways. Media plays a huge role in defining children's beliefs and views of the world. As they watch television, the amount of representation of different races is crucial in their outlook on life. If a white individual is portrayed as the main character, many children will look up to them and aspire to be like them. Later on in life this can manifest as racial bias. Additionally, as @ernest mentioned, representation in books, movies, plays, musicals, and other arts are insanely impactful, and can make such a major change in how you see yourself.

Now, about the Implicit Bias Test, I believe that although I can see how they attempted to reveal one's bias towards a certain race, there were factors that could alter the results. I personally got confused when the key correspondence switched, so when I was associating words, it took me longer to choose the correct one. They then calculated my results based on the amount of time it took me to categorize them, which was not an accurate representation of my true feelings. Of course I recognize the reasoning behind their method, but I believe that there are other factors involved. Despite the inaccuracy in parts, I do believe that taking this test is a good reflection on where you are at and the bias you might have unknowingly towards one race.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 19

I agree with @ernest.’s point because I don’t think discrimination is something that children are born with. Everything that a child believes as they grow up is formed by the environment around them. Their perceptions of all types of people are heavily influenced by the people they have around them in their most formative years.

Ever since we were kids white has always meant good and black has always meant bad. Even if we are disregarding race, the villain is always portrayed as wearing dark clothes and living in a dark scary place, and the hero is always wearing bright colors and lives in a much more light and happy place. From a young age we are taught to associate colors with good and bad things. That is why so many people grow up with racial biases, not because they’re born with it. It’s not a gene that can be passed on.

It might be easy for us, especially, because we live in such a liberal and progressive place to grow out of these tendencies, but for others it can be hard. An example that immediately comes to mind concerning this idea is that my immigrant parents viewed Black people in a negative way because of their prior experiences or things they were taught in their own country. Although they accepted people of color because they themselves are POC, they still had biases against black people. For example growing up I was taught that Dorchester was a dangerous place because a lot of black people lived there and they caused a lot of violence. As I got older that is something that I completely rejected because I got to know people who lived in dorchester and they were good people. This is a clear example of your environment influencing you because what would’ve happened if I had never come in contact with those people? Would I have the same biases against Black people as my parents did? The important thing now is that because I know so much more about racial discrimination and how it affects marginalized communities I can teach my parents the same thing, and they have become very different people than they were before. The people you surround yourself with will, no matter how hard you try, always have an impact on you.

This is why education is so important. Just like I’m teaching my parents why their beliefs are wrong and negatively impacting so many people, it’s important that kids receive a good education that teaches them about all the racial injustice in this country and the world. If kids aren’t taught about this issue how will they ever be able to defeat it. That is why doing things like the IAT is good because even though the results weren’t too accurate, at least it makes you think about how you fit into all of this. Although it told me I had no bias, and I would like to believe that to be true, I don’t think I am completely bias free and no one else is either. So, it’s important that this issue is something that we continue to work on everyday so we can grow and hopefully put others on the right path.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 20

How Children Are Influenced

Reading the study done by Mamie and Kenneth Clark, and watching Anderson Cooper’s study was shocking and upsetting for me. I was obviously aware that discrimination existed, and still exists today, but I did not realize how prevalent it was in the lives of children. I think a lot of people see children as innocent, and that they will not be affected by hard topics like these, and while they may not fully understand their differences with others, they do recognize that they exist.

While noticing differences between people may be innate for everyone, especially young children who are learning about things for the first time, it is not innate for them to discriminate against a certain group of people. This is learned. As we read in “The Moral Life of Babies,” babies do have some feelings about what is right and wrong. As is shown in this study, babies can see differences, and as is proved in "Racial Identification and Preference in Negro Children” by Mamie and Kenneth Clark. The results of the study shows that the young children had knowledge of racial differences between people. Children are majorly affected by the people they are surrounded by, especially their families and close friends, but also by those in their neighborhoods, cities, and schools. If parents do not actively teach their children about racial injustices, or are discriminatory themselves, their children will pick this up and act in similar ways. This is where they will learn to discriminate from. I do not think that children will automatically discriminate based on the color of someone’s skin, they learn to do this from their surroundings, including society and the media.

Over half of the children thought that the black doll “looks bad” and the white doll was a “nice color.” I believe that a big cause of this is the media. Throughout the history of the country, black people or other people of color have been shamed for the color of their skin, and although we like to think we have come a long way from this, in reality we have not. Oftentimes in the media there is unequal representation between white people and black people. White people are often portrayed in positive ways, while black people are often shown in negative ways, or doing something violent or dangerous. When people see something like this in the news, they can often stereotype an entire group of people in this way. Along with this, there are more white people in positions of power, and in the figures we are taught about throughout our lives and told to look up to. It is hard for black people, especially black children, to see themselves in positive ways.

If people grow up believing things like this from the media, they can pass it down to their children. Although children can change their beliefs as they get older, as is seen in Anderson Cooper’s study, it is not always as easy to do that. In the study, a few of the older children stated that all the drawings were the same, and that the skin color did not affect their decision. It is hard to know whether they did not actually have any bias against the skin color, or if they still had biases and did actually think of a specific color when asked these questions, but just knew what they were supposed to say. I think that as people get older, they can grow out of their biases. They can come to the realization that their biases are wrong, but I do not think they will ever fully outgrow them. Biases that you are taught throughout your whole childhood can not be undone, but I do believe they can be almost managed in a lot of ways. You can push your biases to the back of your mind and not express them to anyone, and they may not have any real impact on your decisions or how you treat others, but they may still be there. I agree with @user1234 that education is very important in learning about racial injustice in the country and in the world, and how it affects our own biases. As you become older, it is important to learn about biases, where they come from, and how we can work against having them.

I have mixed feelings about the IAT test. I think in theory these results are a good way to assess the associations and unconscious bias you make, however on the other hand you know that you are taking the test, which can change how you would answer the questions, and therefore the results. You know that you should not answer some of the questions in a certain way, so you try to answer them as neutrally as possible, even if it is not necessarily the “truth,” you know it is how you are “supposed” to answer. Similar to @iluvcows I found myself struggling to answer the questions fast enough, sometimes mixing up the keys and getting the wrong answers. It can be hard to tell if this is actually because of bias, or just due to mistakes. Although it may not be 100 percent accurate, I think it is an interesting test to try and see your results.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 25

Factors of Our Implicit Bias

Children learn to discriminate through their interactions with society and their close family and friends. Discrimination is learned in how children at a young age are taught to differentiate people, objects, and ideas and label everything around them as either good or bad. They are influenced by how society and the adults in their life view and judge people or issues. For example, during their childhood, many children are exposed to forms of media, such as TV, the news, and advertisements. In many movies and TV shows, we most often see white characters as the main leads, while people of color are side characters or even villains. This internalizes an idea in our minds that white people are heroes and are more important than people of color, who are often portrayed in a less favorable and desirable way. In addition, I agree with @iluvcows in how the news and social media have a significant influence on our views. Depending on the source, our opinions and perspectives might shift to one side because that outlet has influenced us to think that way, as your sources affect how you see certain groups of people and where you stand on certain issues or topics. These influences can be beneficial, allowing you to become more aware and knowledgeable of issues and events. On the other hand, they can be harmful, feeding you false and misleading information. For this reason, as Emma and Aidan said during their presentation, it is important to consider what biases our sources have and question their credibility.

I also want to address that people discriminate in different ways, depending on their background and environment. The Kenneth + Mamie Clark 1940-1941 research showed that black children from the North made more identifications with the white doll than the doll with darker skin, unlike the children from the South. This could have been the result of the northern children being more influenced by the great number of white people in the North. I believe that discrimination can never be completely undone. In the Anderson Cooper 2010 recreation of the Kenneth + Mamie Clark 1940-1941 research, most of the older children had similar responses to questions as the younger children, demonstrating that children’s biases stick with them throughout their formative years and even into adolescence. Despite this, I think that people can take steps to acknowledge their implicit bias and learn about the racial issues in our society to improve on their biases.

This test is a good start to get a loose sense of your degree of implicit bias, but it does not fully determine it. During the last half of the test where we had to click certain buttons for words or pictures that we associated with black, white, good, or bad, I was trying to not get anything wrong but this stress caused me to make mistakes. I believe that having a test that is similar to the doll test would produce better results in determining one’s implicit bias because you are able to make your choices at your own pace and explain them rather than quickly going through many pictures. The results yielded from this test would be much different if the test included actual people, as some people might try to suppress their bias because they are aware of social queues and the judgements that can be made on their decisions. The IAT test indicated that I have a slight preference for one race over the other. Even though I wished that I had no bias between races, I was not surprised by the results. During my childhood, I was not exposed much to the racial discrimination and systemic racism that the African-American community faced. Each year in my history class, we would learn about European colonization of the Americas and the American Revolution, again and again. The first time I ever learned about the racial and social struggle of African Americans was in first grade, where my teacher made the effort to teach us about racial segregation and the civil rights movement in the 60’s. In her class, I became familiar with Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks and their effects and influence on the Black community. However, after first grade, my teachers never talked much about these issues. This shows that our flawed education systems have profound impacts on how children discriminate.

To respond to @thesnackthatsmilesback, I also wish that I took this test last year or even as a sixie. I think my IAT test results would be quite different because before BLS, systemic racism and implicit bias were never addressed in great depth at home or at school. At BLS, through discussions in class and conversations with my friends, I have learned so much more about systemic racism and realized that people of color are still facing discrimination today. Becoming educated on topics of social injustices has allowed me to better recognize and intervene when inequality arises in my community.

Roslindale, MA, US
Posts: 16

IAT Test

The world teaches us to discriminate and from the wise words of the late Tupac "The hate you give little infants F***s Everyone". As we grow older we learn from those around us for better and for worse. When we are young we have the possibility to be anything that we want but we are a product of our environment so that can influence us and take us into the wrong directions. If our environment is filled with hate we will surely feel the effects of this in our lives as we grow to be angry ot repress parts of ourself because the world looks upon them critically. We learn from our parents how to live and function in this world so if your paretns have an inherent bias it is likely you will have this too. Of course you can always change and reexamine your biases but you must be willing to do so which is ually where the problem lays because we developed these biases when we were younger so it is pretty deeply rooted in who we are now. Unlearning our biases is also difficult because we often overlook them, so it requires a lot of introspection although it can be undone. For example when I was younger sadly I was a bit misogynistic I mostly blame this on social media but also some people who were around me. As I grew older I started become friends with more women like myself and realized that my thoughts were not my own but those instilled in me by my environment. So I rewrote my misogynistic tendencies because although I did not actually believe in misogynstic ideologies I was unknowingly favoring them.

The IAT results told me that although I did not have severe biases I still had a preference which is not ideal. At the same time though I do not believe that this was the best way for me to test my unconcious bias test not only because I felt like I was cheating but also this test was just not accurate for me. I did a light vs. darker skinned test and I didn't think it accurately showed my unconcious belief because mulitplle minority groups were squished into two categories either light skinned or dark skinned. So I don't think that this really tested my unconcious bias because all groups come in different shades so I just do not think that this was a good test. If it had been individual race groups and sorting then maybe but personally I did not find these results to be very accurate.

Cookie Monster
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

Bias and prejudice are deeply intertwined into the American and global societal construct. Every member of our global world makes premature judgments about others based on their race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, etc. even if they don't openly voice their perceptions. Although this element isn't something that is automatically present in human nature, young children learn and internalize judgments and stereotypes at a very early age. Although a lot of these generalizations about certain demographic groups are seen as taboo to openly talk about, older people have to acknowledge the fact that these ideas influence their viewpoints and discernment on a daily basis.

How are these preconceptions of other groups of people internalized at such young ages? Well, this is largely a result of how polarized and separated global society is. Oftentimes, different demographics form enclaves with high concentrations of people who are similar to them and share commonalities in their day to day routines, as well as cultures. This means that a lot of people lack access to a variety of peoples who live different lives than them and identify with different cultures. For example in America, the influence of the segregation that was formed to separate whites people from black people is ever so present today, with many black communities still being concentrate in inner cities, while our white populations are largely concentrated in more affluent suburban communities. Because the government still hasn't done its part in making amends to increase the diversity of our neighborhoods, white people and black people have largely operated through their lives in separate bubbles, with little exceptions in between.

Because our society is so segregated, we have largely relied on the media and what other people tell us about different demographics to define our view points of them. These ideas are then passed on generation to generation, formulating stereotypes and generalizations that become the consensus perception about different peoples. For example, black people in America have has always been seen as inferior to white people. This thought goes back to the writing of the Constitution, where the founders decided that a black person was considered three fifths of a white person. Slavery also was a consequence of this idea and even after slavery was abolished, government refused to give them the same social benefits that white people enjoyed. Because of this, black families over generations accumulated less wealth than white families and were forced live in more squalid conditions in crowded neighborhoods in cities. This has allowed the media to define the black community as dirty, poor, and lazy. Because white people have been so isolated from this demographic for centuries, we have internalized this generalization and have utilized it to justify our own privilege.

Although I think that these stereotypes are so deeply woven into our global culture to root them out of society, one method that could be more effective in eliminating biases is increasing diversity levels. Accessibility and the ability to get to know people of different cultures and backgrounds could pull us out of seeing people for just the demographic they belong to and more as their own individual self. This could target many institutions that are arguably the backbones of our societal structure. I would argue that diversifying our school districts would be the most efficient way to undo these judgments that we have made of others. Because these thoughts get ingrained in our heads at a very early age as I mentioned above, it would be harder to address this issue when people are older when they have already lived a lot of their lives espousing these viewpoints. This could entail quotas addressing discrepancies in racial, religious, ethnic, or any cultural make-ups from district to district to ensure that schools fully reflect the diversity of our national/global community, This could also entail building up a more robust busing system to bring kids in from different communities or encouraging people of different backgrounds to move to certain neighborhoods.

I did take the IAT test and it said that they didn't notice any noticeable biases that I have against different groups of people. However, I question the reliability of this exercise because I first got used to associate words with good connotations with black people and words with bad connotations with white people. When the test switched it up, it was hard for my head to grapple with that and it was hard to adjust. Even if the results were correct, I have definitely made my mistakes when it comes to making overarching generalizations of different communities I am unfamiliar with. I am white, male, and privileged and sometimes I have taken my privilege for granted because I don't have that much access to people that don't have the same advantages. It can become easy to rely on stereotypes about certain demographics when you don't have access to individuals within those communities. However, on a daily basis I have tried my best for a while not to make the same mistakes I used to in making assumptions about people, although that doesn't eliminated the fact that I have most likely internalized some of the biases that permeate through society.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 25

Originally posted by user1234 on November 16, 2020 16:22

Ever since we were kids white has always meant good and black has always meant bad. Even if we are disregarding race, the villain is always portrayed as wearing dark clothes and living in a dark scary place, and the hero is always wearing bright colors and lives in a much more light and happy place. From a young age we are taught to associate colors with good and bad things. That is why so many people grow up with racial biases, not because they’re born with it. It’s not a gene that can be passed on.

I wanted to reflect on @user1234’s point here. I wonder to what extent darkness being associated with evil really reinforces racist ideas. While bias against darker skin colors is learned, fear of the dark is definitely not- it’s something we all had as children. So I don’t necessarily find it problematic when villains are associated with night, caves, shadows, dark clothes, etc. etc., because association of these places with bad things and fear is a natural phenomenon. Similarly, the association of heroes with light things like the day/sun, bright colors, etc. makes sense as a contrast to this. However, this does raise an interesting question about where we draw the line. Humans naturally fear darkness (i.e. night/the absence of light, not just the state of being a darker color), so it’s reasonable to draw on this association to portray villains. But, at what point have we crossed from drawing on “fear of darkness” to engaging in colorism? As @thesnackthatsmilesback stated earlier, Jafar is depicted with darker skin to make him a villain, which makes him a clear example of crossing that line. I wonder if anyone has more thoughts about this somewhat blurry area?

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 26

Society Implements Implicit Bias

When a new being comes into this world, I think that their instincts are purely based on survival — nourishment, shelter, and the affections and care of a parent/guardian. Infants don’t distinguish between factors like skin color, gender identity, and sexuality, because they truly don’t have the mental ability for it, yet. Children only begin to notice — whether explicitly or inadvertently — the ways in which society discriminates when they grow and become more aware. Therefore, I don’t think we innately are born with prejudices; rather, we begin to learn them at an alarmingly accelerated rate from the moment we are born and conscious.

Certainly, an argument can be made that the social acceptability and standard for racism has changed (or improved) over the centuries in America, from the point of European colonization up to now. However, the more covert, implicit internalization of racism has undoubtedly continued to remain an issue. We see this with the covert/overt pyramid of white supremacy. While decades ago, racism was being internalized by children through exposure to overt extremes like lynchings, hate crimes, and the presence of the Ku Klux Klan — even in “liberal” areas — I would say that now, we can see just as many signs of the influences of white supremacy on our children in society, with the characters and figures on media and entertainment, mass incarceration, segregation of neighborhood and effects of redlining, and arguably even in practicing Columbus Day, as children learn to prioritize the celebration of white colonization over the cultures and dignity of Indigenous peoples. While all these racist structures surround us, we are not aware of them until we somehow have to confront the deeper layers to our customs, which I think liberal allies commonly do lest they bear the shame of being ignorant.

For me, confronting and recognizing subversive signs of white supremacy came in the form of Barbie. Although I can’t remember spotting instances of racism as a six-year-old, I can remember watching Barbie with my friends and seeing her adventures through various magical worlds. I remember wanting, basically, to be her. When quarantine began, I, with a group of friends, decided to revisit Barbie movies — which started off as a joke, but became quite fun to look back on the stories we so fondly cherished in childhood. With the very first movie, I was surprised to see that I was thinking critically about representation in the story — how people of color are often always regulated to the role of “side character,” how they can appear on the disk cover in marketing, but are very minor actors in moving along the actual plot. It seemed just to message that Barbie had diverse friends, that their “roles” were to support her, and they had no conflicts or talents of their own. The issue with all this, of course, is that I couldn’t recognize this as a child. Without proper representation on screen — the type that would do me (and people who look like me) justice — children don’t admire people of color, they just want to be Barbie. So, of course 67% of children overall would want to play with a “white” doll, and only 32% a “coloured” doll — because all the media they are fed from a young age showcases a white person who is brave and adventurous, who learns lessons, who has many valuable friendships and maybe even a romantic relationship. As a person of color, I truly cannot think of a single character of my race and ethnicity who was someone I could identify with — or, more importantly, would even want to identify with.

Seeing the factors and evidence of biases now, I think I am able to be more conscious and critical of entertainment and media, and understand why and how I have implicit biases. I think this is good, in that I can take steps to be more open-minded and erase implicit biases — but also, I don’t think these influences can be undone or unlearned. I agree to @BlueWhale24’s point in the sense that trying to “unlearn” discrimination is mostly a conscious act of overriding it. Over the summer, we saw more and more calls to be actively anti-racist, which takes effort and work. However, I think improving and overcoming biases mostly comes down to whether the individual cares about it, and I think the degree to which people are determined or apathetic still depends on your outside forces, your bubble. Many liberals try to be anti-racist because their bubble tells them they are a better person, and community member, for it. Many who do not care to revert their prejudices are surrounded by family, friends, or peers who casually employ discriminatory rhetoric and practices — why would they put in the effort to remedy something they don’t actually believe to be wrong? I am hopeful, though, that my belief that “undoing” is no longer possible for us could just be due to time I grew up in — one with an acute lack of diverse role models — and that as we work to create more exemplars for all groups that are marginalized, upcoming generations will at least naturally be more conscious of those around them who are different to them and more individuals would have a genuine desire to combat any possible one of their prejudices.

The effects of these detrimental, biased factors of society can be seen within me. While I think I am always very consciously trying to think justly, to confront the prejudices that exist in society and not try to justify or excuse them (as many children did in the Kenneth and Mamie Clark doll study), I saw that according to my Implicit Association Test, I am slightly biased. This doesn’t really surprise me, again because of the sheer amount of outside influences one undergoes while growing up, but it’s nevertheless disappointing. I can only wonder, would the results be the same if the association with “white” and “bad” came before that of “white” and “good”? Was it just naturally easier, when taking the test, to associate “white” with “good”? Did the test account for my multiple errors when simply switching keys and identifying, not associating at all? Why did people test for “no bias,” and does it have to do with any limitations of the test? If I took the test again repeatedly, would the results change? And if they did, would it be genuine, or more like “beating” a game? Either way, I think it was an interesting experience to take the test and think critically about implicit bias, as I think these moments of self-reflection are always valuable to have.

When seeing studies like that of Kenneth and Mamie Clark, then of Andersen Cooper, I found myself blanching at the results, and feeling slightly sick. There was a mindless aspect to the children, in the immediateness of their innocent justifications for white supremacy, that made me truly afraid — because I know we were no better. We rightly put the responsibility of becoming educated and not ignorant on ourselves, of actively being anti-racist, but these studies have really made me wonder about the possibilities of nipping this prejudice in the bud, or at least curbing it. Concurrently, education for children is terribly overlooked, and education on discrimination is even worse, as we see figures like Trump banning racial sensitivity training, and looking to implement a “patriotic” learning curriculum. Terrifying, the path we are quickly heading. I think if we expand efforts of inclusivity, not “other”ing, to children while they are young, perhaps they will grow and see the same dignity for all humans, outside of the White Man.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

Understanding Bias

I am saddened by the Anderson Cooper video and the Kenneth and Mamie Clark reading but unfortunately I cant honestly say Im surprised. America as a country has progressed hugely and nearly continuously in the fight for equality and the lives of POC have definitely improved along with more symbolic victories but victories nonetheless like the first black president and recently vice president, that being said to say that we live in a post Racism in America would be ridiculous we still see hate all around and continued police brutality and other injustices.

I don't think Bias is innate or natural but i think the potential for it is. The reason I don't think Bias is necessarily part of human nature is because i think if that was the case then the white students would show preferential treatment to the white appearing dolls/drawings and the black students would show preferential treatment to the black appearing dolls and drawings. However thats not what happened, instead the majority of all the students interviewed wether white or black showed preferential treatment towards the white appearing dolls and drawings which would indicate that this bias is somehow created by the environment or society which we live in.

I also think it's incredibly telling that wether or not the kids showed preference towards the white or black dolls and drawings almost all of them agreed that the white appearing ones were the ones that adults preferred more. This could definitely play a big roll on where children get their unconscious biases. This makes sense, because most of their parents would have grown up in far less racially equal times than now and for most children their parents are some of their biggest influences on their lives and views.

I think bias can definitely be removed but i don't know if it can be done in an educational or any sort of created situation and i think it has to be done naturally through exposure. The only way Bias and negative stereotypes can be fought is by proving them false and the only way for a child to prove them wrong is by interacting with and having a generally positive experience with people of different races. One personal example is from my first summer job where i knew almost no one, this is one of my first experiences in Boston where I as a white person was in the minority and the program was run by a black Dominican woman (who i would consider a mentor to this day). I ended up becoming friends with most of the people there and had a really good summer, this was definitely a really important experience for me and i think it made me a better person and if everyone had similar experiences as I did i think there would be very little room for bias thought.

The IAT test i think is a little bit flawed because nobody wants to have bias so you can subconsciously shift the results to represent that without realizing. Ive taken it twice now and looking back I think I subconsciously shifted the results to get a more favorable outcome which was a slight preference for darker skin color. However this time i feel like I answered more honestly without trying to get a certain outcome and am proud to say that I got "no preference for lighter or darker skin color". However that pride i have in having no preference shows off the flaws of the IAT because nobody wants to believe or accept they have implicit bias based on race so many people will subconsciously skew the results like i did the first time. Despite its flaws though i cant think of another more effective way of identifying bias though and i think identifying bias in yourself is the best first step you can take in fighting your own biases and eventually helping others do the same, so while the IAT test isnt perfect i think it still has important uses.

BOSTON, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

People got me got me questioning, Where is the Love?

The effects of nature versus nurture as it pertains to all aspects of human life have forever been debated. And in this modern era of information and the internet, the number of factors influencing peoples’ character and decisions is at an all time high. It is even possible that our nature, as human beings, may be changing as a result of our current world. This can make it incredibly difficult to sort out why humans are the way they are.

When it comes to discrimination, I believe this quality in humans is in some ways a combination of being both innate and being learned. The innate aspect is humans ability and capacity to discriminate. I tend to think humans at their core share similarities with wild animals, as in the end, we are all still living beings with the desire to survive among other things. Another similarity can be seen in our capacities to discriminate. As @BlueWhale24 mentioned, innate discrimination is present in many animals. For example, different groups of animals have rival communities which they often show aggression toward and fight with. Additionally, I think it is reasonable to assume that both animals and humans, at their base, tend to prefer things that are familiar. For example, if many animals return to mate in the same locations or live with the same group throughout their lives, it is reasonable to think that we prefer other beings we see as similar to ourselves. Perhaps this is just because of our natural instinct to like what is familiar to us and what we deem as most safe in our quest for survival. Finally, I think it is safe to say that in no society throughout the course of human history has there ever been absolutely no discrimination. Does this not make it part of our innate human nature to discriminate? Or is it just because we have yet to create a perfect society, where discrimination is not learned and therefore does not exist. Personally, I doubt this will ever happen, and on some level, I think it would be against our nature if it did, seeing as it has never happened before, which leads me to believe that our capacity to discriminate is innate.

However, I think that to “activate” our capacity for discrimination and show targeted preference and dislike is learned. One strong piece of evidence for this comes from Anderson Cooper’s piece on skin color preference. In the study, it was shocking and disheartening to see that even children with darker skin tones frequently chose to associate the darker colored dolls with negative qualities such as being ugly or mean. This serves as evidence that children were not just preferring dolls that were more “familiar” and looked like them, but instead had somehow learned and been influenced to have a preference for lighter skin specifically. Other evidence that the target of human discrimination is learned comes from the fact that throughout the world and its history, different groups of people have been discriminated against. As we know, people, regardless of race and any other factors, share similar biology. Nowhere in our code does it say to discriminate against certain groups. Rather, humans have learned in their respective societies to discriminate against these groups. For example, African Americans are discriminated against in the United States now, Jewish people were discriminated against in Nazi Germany, and Catholics were discriminated against in England after the reformation. This diversity in the targets of our discrimination, despite our similar biology, as well as ability to discriminate against ourselves, clearly means that the this aspect of discrimination is learned.

I do not know if discrimination can be undone. Certainly, people can change and learn that discrimination is not acceptable. I would imagine that most of the children involved in the skin tone preference tests would answer quite differently down the road, once they have learned about racial discrimination. And I think it would be an interesting study to repeatedly give kids this test throughout their young lives to see when and if their answers changed. It might also be interesting to show kids their previous responses and ask them why their answers have changed, and why they used to believe this. However, how should one tell if these biases have been undone, or as we discussed in class, if filters were just put up to make us say the appropriate thing and hide underlying prejudice. Furthermore, as @boricua1234 noted, these biases are often developed at a very early age, and therefore become deeply ingrained in our minds. Is it possible to undo something that we presumably learned as children once we are nearly or completely fully developed? As @Bluewhale24 noted, I think what can be better understood and measured is our ability to override or overcome our possible biases. Learning that prejudices are unacceptable and should not factor into what we believe, say, and do could prevent us from discriminating, even if they are still present.

I thought the IAT test was an interesting exercise. But overall, I am not too confident in their results. Firstly, the initial association between a particular racial group with a group of words and the following switch undoubtedly contributes to the speed and accuracy at which you group them. Additionally, our knowledge about what the test was trying to figure out about us could have played a role in our performance. Finally, I am unsure of how much associating “positive” and “negative” words with racial groups really gets at what discrimination is, especially with our awareness of what the test was really asking. However, I do think that the test is an interesting way to get us thinking about the fact that it is likely many of us do have unconscious biases, as tough as it may be to admit it. I could be one of these people. Most notably, I think growing up in West Roxbury, a quite undiverse and privileged town of Boston, may have had impacts. Not being as exposed to different groups of people throughout my early years may have narrowed my perspective, and led to some unconscious biases. Additionally, cultural values have certainly shaped my beliefs and may contribute to some subconscious biases.

Overall, I think it is very interesting to think about whether it matters if we have unconscious biases, as long as we are able to filter ourselves and not allow them to play a role in our decision making or treatment of others. In other words, are underlying biases harmful even if we are able to keep them on the inside and filter ourselves?
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