posts 16 - 29 of 29
Roslindale, MA, US
Posts: 20

Unlearn and Learn, Unlearn and Learn...A Cycle

I think that discrimination is innate, but not to a high degree. For example, I think that babies are scared of things that are very different from their norm. If a baby has always been cared for by their parents and is suddenly placed under the care of a foreign babysitter, that baby is likely to scream and cry for a little while. Or maybe for hours on end and only stop screaming when the baby sees it’s sibling and even then the baby doesn’t let said sibling pick it up and the babysitter can’t do anything because whenever the baby sees the babysitter it screams bloody murder. You know, hypothetically. Definitely not based on what the author of this piece was like as an infant. Anyways...babies are innately curious, always putting things in their mouths to try and better understand them, but when they face things highly different from what they are used to, they don’t enjoy their experience. Maybe they try blueberries for the first time and throw a tantrum. Maybe they lick a table and find out that tables do not, in fact, taste very good. Now the baby hates tables.

I think that discrimination is learned from this innate fear of the unknown. People see or hear or smell or taste something that is different from what they are used to, and they are automatically distrustful of it. And so, when a white child from a whit family who has only ever interacted with other white people goes to Preschool and meets non-white children, they may be wary of these children.

But children overcome wariness, right? As a child I was very wary of all humans. I was super shy and would hide behind my mom whenever we saw people. Now I am an open and engaging person, and though I sometimes feel shy I have much less trouble interacting with new people. I have overcome my wariness. So children must learn to discriminate from more than just their natural instincts. I think that children learn from everyone they see, but they most internalize the actions of those they have learned to trust. If 5-year-old-me was to see my mom do one thing and a stranger do another, I am more likely (based on personal experience, not science) to mimic my mother’s behavior, because I know my mother does things that, at least to me, are good. And so I think that if a child sees its parents or guardian or friend or role model or an entire system do something, it is likely to mimic that action, whether it be eating a red apple rather than a green one or choosing to not invite the black classmate to a birthday party.

But I do think that, to an extent, discrimination can be unlearned, and I think this happens primarily by acknolwedging that there is an internal bias to be unlearned. That way, if a person has a racist thought, they can look at it, observe its racism, not act on the thought, and begin to unpack where that thought came from. It may not be possible to completely get rid of a bias, but I think it is possible to learn enough about the bias that it is not acted upon.

My Implicit Associations Test on race told me that I was moderately biased in favor of European Americans. This, unfortunately, does not surprise me. I am white, grew up in a white family, went to a majority white elementary school, and currently go to BLS, a primarily white school. My IAT results tell me I have internalized the whiteness of my communities, that although I am working on unlearning these biases, I am not yet doing enough. I do not think, however, that the IAT is a perfect way of testing these biases. I spent time making my brain learn that one side of my keyboard was black and one was white, and I think if they had been put in the opposite order (Black people originally put with positive words), I would have had a faster reaction time. But, I do think this is a valuable exercise, because the point stands that bias is often an immediate thought, not one that is contemplated and decided. This shows that it is learned and is not necessarily a choice, which just means that we all have to work harder to unlearn our internalized racism.

Lastly, to respond to @ernst - I don’t think my IAT results would have been different before this year's BLM surge, but I do think that my reaction to those results has changed and matured. I now have a better sense of how to unlearn my internalized biases and why and how I should give back to the communities I may be biased against.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 24

Generation Biases: Slowly Undoing Implicit Bias Through Education

Children are born knowing how to discriminate. Newborns discriminate between which toys they play with. They recognize the differences between them and decide which one is better. But, as @BlueWhale said, this form of discrimination is different than racial discrimination. The use of discrimination on race is not innate, rather it is learned through societal influences as a child slowly notice racial discrimination around them and begin to copy what they see.

This can be as obvious as a child listening in on their bigoted parents’ racists comments that “all Mexicans are drug dealers, rapists, and criminals” and then begin avoiding and hating anyone they perceive as Mexican, believing that the statement is true. Although the child does not actually believe in the racists ideologies and hate behind the message (as they are too young, naïve, and oblivious to even realize that they exist and are the determining factors behind said racism), they will view that statement as a universal truth, that its just how the world works because their parents said it. Anderson Cooper’s piece for CNN on skin color preference and the 1950 study done by Kenneth and Mamie Clark provides the evidence that there is an implicit bias against darker skin tones. Even though the study doesn't provide proof or evidence of how that implicit bias came to be (although most likely there is no study that could provide such evidence—none that are morally and ethically acceptable that is), it implies that it was gained from society, as almost all of the children (even those with darker skin tones) showed implicit bias against darker skin tones. With percentages way above 50%, the data rules out any factor of randomness or variations amongst preference in skin tone, and shows that there is an outside factor affecting the decision of these children.

Once a child is influenced by and exposed to racial bias, it isn’t too late for them. Once they are at the age where they are no longer oblivious to the world around them and can start forming their own opinions and views of the world, that's when those past implicit biases could be undone. By receiving an education that goes into implicit bias, the history around it (stemming from slavery, and even earlier than that), these children (now most likely young adolescents) would be able to recognize their own biases and begin the work of removing that type of thinking from their unconscious. Even so, that would just be one step of the puzzle. To truly stop implicit bias we would need to stop the root cause of implicit bias in children, and as these biases come from our parents and the environment around us, it means removing all implicit biases from the system and our government. Working from top to bottom would be almost impossible, as those in charge of the system hold these same biases, meaning the best way to go at undoing implicit bias is through the education system—reducing it with each generation.

When I took the race IAT test, I received a mixed result of both a slight preference towards faces with European origin and a slight preference towards faces with African origin. While I do not agree with tests like the IAT (as they often are somewhat unreliable), I believe this is one of the best ways to assess the associations we make. While muscle memory may have a hand in if you press E or I, it does not hinder the process or alter the results of the test—especially when one does the test without taking the time to check if the image or word belongs on the left or right side (going through it rapidly without too much thought), as that is how the test was designed.

I was able to speed through the first few parts of the test where they had us categorize either the words or faces, at separate times. But once we had to categorize the faces and words at the same time and the good or bad words switched sides, it was too much for my mind to keep track of. I gave up on keeping track of which side to put the different face types, and only focused on putting the bad words on the right, and good words on the left. Whenever a face would come up, I would unconsciously pick a button without thinking about it as I was trying to speed run the process. Whenever I messed up, which happened a few times, I felt terrible and hated myself for it.

It occurred to me after the test, that this is how (possibly) unconscious bias was found through the test. When someone (for the first time) goes as fast as they can, they are only able to associate each side with word type OR face type, as doing both would slow down the process. For example, let's say someone taking the tests only associates the right side with bad words and the left side with good words. Whenever a face appears, their first process will be to try and categorize the face as either good or bad before they try to categorize it into a face with African or European origin. If they have implicit bias and see a face with African origin, they will associate that face as bad—or at least preferences less than faces of European descent—and send the face with African origin over to the side for bad words without even thinking about it. The same would occur the other way around (if they associate the sides with face type), unconsciously categorizing the words based on their association with the face type, revealing any possible implicit bias.

Posts: 22

Testing our Implicit Bias

From the moment we are born, we begin to categorize things. It is the easiest way to grasp an understanding of something. We know the color green because we all acknowledge that it represents something that has an appearance similar to grass. We group everything at all times, and what is put into each one of those groups is extremely influenced by the people and world around us.

I agree with @Boricua1234 that whether we like it or not, our parents are the most influential people in our young lives. Especially before we go to school and learn to make our own judgements and decisions, it is very easy to blindly follow the biases our parents have spent their whole lives forming.

Today, we are still living in a country where racism, segregation, and bias are so prominently rooted in every aspect of society. No matter how aware we are of our bias, we all have one, and that is because it has been developing our entire lives. We learn to associate certain things with positive attributes, and certain things with negative ones. Even in Disney movies, the good and pure characters wear white, and the mean and evil characters wear black. Segregation surrounds us in every way, making it impossible to escape an implicit bias even when you are babies.

The study performed on children to test their racial understanding and biases both in 1940 and again in 2010, both revealed that young children of both races have a strong preference for Black over White. They also believe that adults share this same tendency. This emphasizes the idea that these implicit biases are engraved in our minds from a very young age.

However, as the children got older, they became slightly more aware of their biases, and more likely to take a step back and check them. Overall, they still had the same results as the younger children, but in a less drastic way.

As a junior living in a very progressive city, attending a significantly progressive school with teachers and students who share a lot of my personal beliefs and values, I have been educated on the dangers of segregation, racism, and using my implicit bias. However, that does not mean I don’t have one. I took the IAT test about race three times to look at the consistency of my results. I got three different answers each time. First I got no strong preference, then I got a slight preference for White, and the last time I got a slight preference for Black. The first test was probably the most authentic considering I did not know what to expect or have any preconceived ideas about what the words or faces would be, and I could choose solely based off of my first reaction.

I do think that there are some limitations to this test because some people might just not be great at working quickly and being able to identify categories at a fast pace. I know that I made a fair share of mistakes for both races and types of words. I agree with @squirellover123 when noting that since we know we are taking a test regarding race, we are trying to answer the way we feel we are “supposed” to answer. It is however, a useful tool for students to recognize what an implicit bias is, and that they do indeed have them. It is a great way to try and measure the reaction time we would have in real life when confronted with different types of people.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 16

How nurture affects bias

I’m a firm believer that nurture, the society and environment which one grows up in, determines one’s outlook on the world. While science does prove that humans are born with some sense of bias against things that are different, the bias that we are innately born with is much different from what we see as discrimination these days. Children are not born with an understanding of what different races, cultures, and ethnicities are.

One of earliest influences being our parents/guardians, as their ideals will usually shape what a child values and believes in. A parent/guardian is one of the most influential beings in a child’s mind, so if they are more biased towards one group, ideal, thing, etc. the child will most likely follow. The same goes for environment and the society which one grows up in. The people around you can both narrow and widen your perspectives on the world and others, but they can also unconsciously teach you to discriminate certain people, etc. In modern times media is another huge influence, and when you find a certain ideal that speaks to you, many times you continue to consume that rather than expanding your mind. In terms of whether or not it can be undone, it certainly can. As people grow older they become much more aware and educated of the world around them, which means they also become more aware of their bias and judgements against certain groups, opinions, etc. They start to understand that they can break away from the ideals that they grew up with (which doesn’t mean that they always do), and possibly support others. Essentially, they become much more self aware and can therefore take change into their own hands.

To give an example, this relates to something we talked about quite recently. Most children in the United States will naturally grow up supporting the political party that their parents/guardians do (which is expected). While they may not actually be aware of the morals and ideals surrounding that specific political party, its what their parents support therefore they follow. As they grow up and become more self aware, they become exposed to differing opinions and ideals through their peers and the media. This now more independent and mature child now has a chance to develop their own viewpoint rather than simply following their parents. They may choose to stay where they are, or change.

I definitely agree with what other people have been saying in the fact that the test is flawed. It largely relies on speed and your subconscious, which can be unreliable as not everyone’s minds work at the same pace. The fact that columns and topics switched could possibly imply less discrimination and more lack of quick processing. I think it’s good for testing your initial reaction towards other races, and while I certainly can’t say that determines whether you discriminate against them or not, it helps in understanding that subconscious bias.

Fruit Snacks
Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 27

Implicit Association

Children learn to discriminate among their households, school, and more generally their society. Discrimination is developed because kids are taught to know how to do comparisons at a young age. These comparisons don’t have any malicious intent, but once they know how to identify differences, the people around them shape how they use this skill. Therefore, discrimination isn’t innate. If the world wasn’t based around differences, we’d all think everything is the same instead of nitpicking. Since it is acquired, it can be undone, but it is very difficult because it becomes a value. For example, in my household I grew up with different shades of skin around me. My dad’s side of the family is very pale Dominicans, while my mom’s side of the family is on the darker side. As a result I grew up understanding that skin color is just a shade. It doesn’t define the goodness of a person or how they should be treated. Everyone should be respected. A lot of Dominicans discriminate against Haitians, because their families have fed them false history to seem superior. That’s why I believe discrimination is learned, because I’m also Dominican and I fail to understand why people could treat their neighbors like so rudely.

The IAT results told me that I am more fond of later caucasians, but that’s not true at all. I don’t mean any disrespect to the white race, but most people intimidate me because I’m a minority. A lot of white people just strike me as condescending, and I don’t like when my feelings aren’t heard. I’ve grown up with people of color and I’m still surrounded by them. It is the race I feel most comfortable around, and that’s just because I’ve seen them all around. I didn’t think this test was a good way to assess the associations I make because they kept switching around the places of the characteristics and races, and when they did many answers on the same side in a row, it was easy to keep going. I think another exercise needs to be created.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 20

implicit bias in children

Reading the study conducted by Kenneth & Mamie Clark, and watching Anderson Cooper’s revival of that study revealed to me how deeply embedded racial bias is in our people and our country. However, this didn’t cause as much as a shock to me, probably because I think that kids are like “sponges” for knowledge; they’ll just absorb what they are presented within their environment (even if they can’t fully comprehend it).

Discrimination, in a sense, is innate (although a better word for what I mean may be differentiation). To point out differences in things is how we understand and give meaning to our surroundings and our world. But to make prejudiced and unjust conclusions from these differences, in my opinion, is learned. Kids are exposed to our society and the media we consume. So when they see a race or group being seen as sub-human or lesser than, they too will adopt that sentiment. Especially if they are not taught by those around them differently. In “The Moral Life of Babies”, we know that babies do have some sense of right and wrong. However, these beliefs are so easily warped and manipulated because babies and young children just don’t have the capacity for advanced critical thinking. Mamie & Kenneth Clark’s study “Racial Identification and Preference in Negro Children”, shows how society’s outlook on race has influenced these children and made them prone to discriminatory choices. More than half of the children (both black and white) labeled the black doll as “bad” and the white doll as “good”. The sentiment that white is equal to goodness and is something to be desired is obviously shown to us by our society and our media. Colorism, and racism in general, is so embedded in our Western society. Darker skin tones, and the people that come with these skin tones, are seen as undesirable, morally wrong, or just not represented at all. And many don’t think that this is that prevalent of an issue anymore but it is. It is hard for black people (in particular children, during their developmental years), to see themselves in a positive light and to equate themselves with goodness if that is not what they are exposed to in their world or if that is not what they are taught. I think the process of unlearning is very much possible though, in Anderson Cooper’s studies there were a handful of kids (typically a little older) that refused to answer as they thought that skin color alone couldn’t answer the question. I think that as you grow older and your brain develops further, you can actually understand the nuances that come with this topic and can learn to think and come to an opinion by yourself. People can outgrow their biases.

Like some of my peers, I have mixed feelings about the IAT test. I think in theory this test is a good way for people to check their biases and I could see while taking the test what they were going for, however, I think that the margin for error is quite large. Many could mess up the keys they press (not based on bias, just a simple miss-type), or others can actually think about their choices when it’s supposed to be an instant decision (a reflex). It is not the most accurate tool, but it is useful to take.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 26

The Connection Between Fluctuation and Bias

I admittedly was one of the many believing the age old claim in The Moral Life of Babies article, that discrimation, or in the case of that article, morals, are learned and not something that is quite innate. However, after reading through that study, it was quite fascinating to hear that young babies, as young as ten months old, already have preconceived notions about how to feel about “bad people” and “good people,” with Bloom going as far to say that these studies conclude that morals are a mixture of both biology and culture, which many other aspects of society are also a result of (gender, sex, ethnicity.) “Discrimination,” this act of treating, viewing, and internalizing of certain peoples in a negative light, is not necessarily just a byproduct of our innate human and biological qualities, but also a very real learned aspect. Beauty standards are essentially a set of features on the human body that are regarded by the majority as “attractive,” yet we know that beauty standards can constantly change through the decade and of course throughout different cultures and countries. In other words, just like beauty standards, how we feel towards different objects and even human beings is fluid, it changes as the culture and as society changes.

Where does it come from? Well, even though I feel like I say this in every other post, it comes from your environment. It comes from what the people around you and closest to you do, say, and think. And of course, like many others have said before me, the media and what you consume outside of your immediate surroundings can’t ever be stressed enough. These things are what teaches you, most often unconsciously, underlying biases that will most likely attach to you for the vast majority of your life. Even though life was undoubtedly different 80 years ago when the Kenneth and Mamie Clark study took place, it’s astonishing, yet not, to see the results between the two places being so eerily similar. That is, I believe, a result of the larger cultural norm and media that pervaded America and which supersedes regional differences between the South and the North, which I’m sure have differences that were even more apparent back then, and the severely under representation of minority people.

The IAT actually gave me a different result this time around, and whether that was because of me being a year older and thus wiser, and or because of the numerous social unrestings that occurred over the summer, like @ernest said, or perhaps something else entirely, that is something I do not know for sure. I think the fact that the IAT results fluctuating from session to session, and, gathering from what others have said before me, seems to not be a rare occurrence at all points to me that either “unconscious bias” is something that can fluctuate, which was the argument that I made earlier, or that the test might not be the most accurate in discerning a person’s “unconscious bias.” Don’t get me wrong, I wholeheartedly believe that most test-takers would definitely have a preference for lighter skin tones based on today’s cultural standards and portrayals in media, but I also agree with @speedyninja’s uncertainty over equating simple words over discrimination, which is of course so much more complex than just words. It is a good start though, as the prevalence of people skewed towards either side despite some control settings shows that there is at least something there.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

Kenneth and Mamie Clark and the Implicit Association Test

I think that children learn to discriminate. Children are like blank slates, they start to learn and apply what they are taught and through what their environment is like. I believe the chances of a child developing hate and discrimination are higher if that child is brought up in a area where racsim and prejeduce is prominent. A child would be more accepting if they are brought up in a diverse environment with different people and perspectives. Of course that isn’t a definitive in either way, their education and influence from media is also a big factor of learning discrimination.

Since discrimination is a learnt trait, I believe it can be undone. Of course when it’s an emotional and physiological issue, it’ll take longer, but it can be undone. I think the first step would be to actually want to change. You cannot force others to change, it’s something that one must want for themselves. After that I believe the interwoven issues in race and racism should be examined. This examination would trace the root of why they hate and by knowing that core issue it can be resolved.

I remember a clear instance of this happening. I watched a video of this man who reached out to people of color to help him resolve his own issues with hate. I realized he didn’t have a concrete reason why he hated, so he wanted to learn and understand. This man eventually realized that there were no reasons to hate because he educated himself and started to surround himself with those not like him.

My IAT told me that I had no preference to either African Americans or European Americans. Yes I do think it's a good way to show you have an unconscious bias. I think they should have made us look at the faces for a set amount of time so they could remember them. That way if they hit African American when a negative word such as dirty or lazy comes up, that would show more of an unconscious bias. By being able to look at the faces for a short period of time, people can mentallly dissociate the face from the word by focusing on their fingers and the category. But as a quick and easy test to show basic biases, I believe it’s valuable as the test results generally will show what way a person leans.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 25

I think all people are born with the innate tendency to differentiate based on what qualities they have in common with others, but it takes the influence of society to morph this into discrimination. Upon meeting someone for the first time, we can immediately and unconsciously recognize what traits (mostly physical ones) we share and differ in. This can be the catalyst for all kinds of assumptions, but whether you pay them any mind is up to you. How these qualities or the groups that they’re associated with are represented in society determines what value or meaning is assigned to each quality. Once we’ve absorbed these messages of these representations, we begin projecting them onto our perceptions of certain people and groups. Of course, people can also harbor biases against qualities that they themselves possess. We saw this in the original doll experiment, where some Black children showed a preference for the white dolls or referred to their own complexion as a “sunburn” or “spoil”.

I agree with @thesnackthatsmilesback that children are not explicitly taught to discriminate based on race, rather they learn to associate good with light and bad with dark. As we grow older, our perceptions of qualities like light and dark develop even more nuance based on the outside influences we are exposed to. We saw the early stages of discrimination in the doll experiment when children were acting on these light/dark associations even before they were able to fully comprehend the term “Negro”. They didn’t need to understand that racial concept when they were able to identify the visual difference between each doll. Some of them didn’t even realize their assumptions had anything to do with skin color at all. They justified their choice of the white child as the “nice” one by stating that they were cleaner or had more eyelashes, both positive traits that weren’t actually displayed in the dolls. These associations most likely came from things they have observed in the media or the behavior of adults around them. Sometimes when the media or films attempt a sympathetic, humanizing portrayal of Black Americans, they often end up focusing on struggles like addiction, violence, and poverty. While these are the harsh realities of life, constantly seeing Black Americans in this type of situation does have an impact, especially when there are fewer positive examples to balance them out.

I think respectful, accurate representation in children’s media is especially important to combat the internalized biases that we saw in both iterations of the doll test. I am grateful that there were shows like Dora the Explorer and Ni Hao Kai-Lan when I was younger, but I think that most of the media I was exposed to (especially from you, Disney) featured only white protagonists and heroes. Given all the themes and lessons that children’s media tends to focus on, this can definitely enforce a certain image of what is “good” or “beautiful”. As I got a bit older, I began to see fewer and less flattering depictions of people like me in television and media. I ended up identifying with the white characters that I saw on the screen, because that’s all that was available, but this had a pretty negative impact on how I viewed my own racial identity back then. I was reminded of this as I read about how many of the lighter skinned Black children from the doll study identified with the white doll instead.

I took the skin tone IAT test, and I was not surprised when the results said that I have a slight bias toward people with lighter skin. I think some contributing factors are the fact that most of my family all fall on the lighter end of the skin tone spectrum, and the subliminal biases I’ve inherited from my family and the society around us. This whole lesson reminded me of my own doll test experience that I had many years ago. It’s embarrassing to think about now, but I remember being kind of disappointed when I was given a dark skinned Barbie doll. I’m pretty sure all Barbies have the exact same facial and body structure, so the only real difference was the skin color. At the time, I was too young to understand the concepts of race. I just knew that I preferred dolls that looked like me, and I was also fine with the standard blonde blue eyed, but this was different and for some reason not as “pretty”. I think (and certainly hope) that over time, younger me got used to having a doll that looked like this and became more appreciative. Now I actively work to confront my own implicit biases whenever they arise, and I don’t allow them to dictate my actions. I think having representation like this in children’s toys is also just as important to humanize and normalize all types of people, and it’s uplifting to see brands making an effort to be more diverse.

Young children are very blunt when expressing themselves in regards to any topic, including when race is involved. Because they don’t yet have the proper understanding or ability to confront their own biases, some of the things they might say or do come off as pretty, well, racist or discriminatory. Of course this is completely different than an adult acting on the same internal prejudices while being fully aware of both their actions and the moral culture of our society, but it still hurts to see. Unfortunately we’ve seen many examples of young children acting in such hateful, bigoted ways due to the rhetoric of our political leaders in the last four years. It’s always shocking and disheartening to read about each new incident because we so often associate children with being innocent and free from the uglier parts of our society. However, is it a mark of that innocence, or maybe a better word is ignorance, that they are unable to fully comprehend the consequences or the causes of their actions? I just hope that it is not too late for children who have absorbed these prejudices from those around them to realize them and fight against them before they take root permanently.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 24

Our Unconscious Bias

From an early age, kids often develop an awareness of their surroundings and thus mold their mindsets to adopt new habits, ways of thinking, and improve their social cue. I would compare a child’s mind to a sponge; they are able to absorb information, the good and the bad. Whether it’s from their home environment, how their legal guardians raised them, and even basic interactions with other people, these people’s influences have a prominent stay in kids’ unconscious minds. I wouldn’t say that discrimination is innate as the individual cannot develop a sense of direction without possible influence from others, especially from a young age when they are more susceptible to others guiding them. Even when such concepts are not being taught to kids, even the seemingly insignificant comments can become ingrained in a child’s mind. To put this in perspective, if someone said “I feel so bad for you” as a response to an unfortunate event that may have occurred, it may be interpreted as a passing comment from the speaker but to the recipient, they may overthink it as an isolating statement (i.e. “I wouldn’t want to be in the place you’re in right now”), even if it’s meant to be positive but don’t recognize how deeply the statement affects them. The same idea can be applied for kids learning new experiences as they take information in without even realizing it.

After reading the analysis and statistics for the Kenneth and Mamie Clark study, I realize that the kids who were asked to do the doll tests were significantly influenced by their environment, specifically with segregated schooling. I agree with @ernest. that without context and being fed only by what media and higher influences have had on people, people live in a bubble, only believing that what they’ve experienced and heard is the be all and end all. However this bubble only enables people to discriminate further as they turn their experiences into the basis of their perspective and judgement. I also noticed that both white and black kids were aware to some extent of the differences in race and it was apparent from the reaction of the kids who took identifying themselves as a negative aspect of the experiment that they had acknowledged the societal idea at the time that African-Americans were inherently inferior compared to their white peers. Even as kids grow older and experience more, they will find that their early childhood experiences will have shaped their adult life in some way. For example, if a child is used to being anxious and within their own space in a social setting, despite growing confidence when they’re older, retain an underlying hesitation to their actions due to the same habits they’ve acquired at a young age. However, I also believe that as an adult, they will find more independence in thought and decide for themselves if they are willing to expose themselves to different perspectives or continue to live unaware of the fact.

I took the skin color test from the IAT and my results told me that I generally prefer light skin over darker skin tones. Although I have no preference for skin color, I do believe that the media has had an impact on the way I saw skin color from a young age. As an Asian-American, the channels I usually watched had to do with what my parents were watching so whether it be an advertisement marketing skin whitening products or reality TV shows that only showcased girls who met standard Asian beauty ideals (which are extremely unrealistic, if I may add), I took in all this information. Like many of my peers have already stated, I wouldn’t say that the IAT would be an explicit tool to check for biases because there can be confounding factors in the test, such as slow reaction time, or general understanding of what the instructions were asking, that may have caused the results to be a little inaccurate. However, I do believe it is a good test to take for checking unconscious bias, especially when it comes to associating positive or negative words with certain skin colors, and having a basic understanding of their subconscious.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 23

The 1940s Doll Study 80 Years Later

I think children have the innate ability to naturally discriminate. The discrimination is in everyone. In children I believe walking and discriminating are the same. As babies grow they learn to walk but the need to walk is already preprogrammed into their brains and as babies grow the need to discriminate is already in their brains. Discrimination is in all of us but as we grow we learn the first thing you think isn’t often right. Some children are very physical towards other children at a young age and some may call these kids: “violent children”. But to me these kids aren’t violent, they just don’t know what they do hurts other people. Once they grow and mature, little by little they learn what is hurtful to others, and why they should stop being physical and they stop. We can apply this same concept to childhood discrimination. In Anderson Cooper’s video, there was this little black girl who, when asked which child was ugly on the paper, pointed to the child that looked like her. When I saw this part of the video I didn’t feel human. I didn’t feel like I was living, I felt like I was just existing. I hope eventually this girl learned that she was wrong. I hope she learned the children who look like her aren’t ugly. I hope she learned how to better understand how what she says isn’t always true. When you grow you learn some of the things you believed as a child were unbelievably wrong. For example when I was in kindergarten I thought crosswalks were train tracks. Unbelievable right? But it made sense to young me because crosswalks and train tracks are the same shape. I would see the shape of train tracks in books or in toys, parallel lines with perpendicular lines connecting them. So when I saw crosswalks on the street, parallel lines with perpendicular lines connecting them, I thought they were train tracks. A stupid thing for me to believe but as a child I didn’t know any better. The girl also didn’t know any better. She made a childhood mistake. She saw something as a child that implanted the belief of “black children are uglier than white children”. She could’ve seen it in the media or she heard it on the street. The point is interacted with something that planted an idea in her head and it stuck. It doesn’t mean the idea is right. Like believing crosswalks are train tracks or being too physical as a child, this girl will realize her innate childhood instinct to discriminate is wrong and shouldn’t be listened to.

I’m going to be completely honest with sharing my IAT results with the class (even though LearnToQuestion is anonymous). I took the Race IAT and I got a sight favoring of African Americans than with White Europeans. I don’t know if they are a good way to assess the associations I make or my unconscious bias. I have always looked at everyone as equal because of my political beliefs and my stances on social justice. Doesn’t matter what you look like or who you love, in my mind you’re all equal. Now looking at these results, if the test is to believed, and I do believe it, even though I’ve tried my entire mature life to look at everyone as equal, apparently I still have unconscious biases. Maybe it is impossible to be truly unbiased, to look at everyone as being equal, but I think as a society we can get pretty close to true unbias. I found this exercise as being valuable. Perhaps it showed me the opinions I’ve been trying to avoid instead of face. This facing of what you unconsciously believe is a valuable thing to know about yourself in order to grow as an open human being.

Posts: 8

The correlation between surroundings and biases

Watching these videos and reading the article, I was shocked to see kids at such a young age already have biases set for people of different skin tones. I think the children’s answers were influenced by their surroundings. In the video, it showed that most young white children saw light-skinned people as “good people” and perhaps those were the kinds of people they have always been around. Because they are so young, they have not interacted with different people so they still have a lot to learn. In addition to this, their parents and family members’ personal biases will affect the child because they are only hearing one opinion. However, as they get older and meet new people at school and work, their experiences will help them form their own opinions. In my opinion, social media has had a large impact on Generation z’s views of other people, from raising awareness of marginalized groups to bashing or “cancelling” people for acts that are immoral. Although childhood surroundings may set the starting point for children’s biases of skin tones, as people get older they can educate themselves through social media and communication with others in order to articulate their honest opinions.

I was a bit surprised by my IAT results because it said I moderately preferred one group over another. This may have to do with who I was around the most as a child, which has affected me later in life. Throughout my childhood, I was always surrounded by one group of people and rarely saw others that were similar to me in looks/ethnicity. On the other hand, I didn’t think I had a preference between skin tones so I don’t think this is the best way to assess the associations I made. The seven different levels in the IAT contained different rules and the labels were swapped so it was quite confusing similar to what @ BlueWhale24 said. I can see what the makers of the IAT were trying to do in terms of first instincts, but I don’t think they should’ve kept switching the labels every round.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 20

Nature v. Nurture

Babies are born with the ability to discriminate. The word itself merely means to recognize a difference, which is something we even as young adults do everyday. We differentiate things by color, quality, texture, etc. However, the biases and prejudices that we hold during our adolescence are taught by our parents and the society in which we live in. This becomes so engrained into our minds that it is a part of our morality, our decision making, and our initial reactions (or the id, ego, and superego as Sigmund Freud likes to call it). The psychological framework of a person is an influential factor in how we conduct ourselves in society and can be hard to change if we were taught these implicit biases either subconsciously or consciously. In the videos that we watched in class, it was disturbing to see an overwhelming majority of kids choosing the black child as the bad child or the ugly child and choosing the white child as the smart and preferred child. As Freud theorized, kids are still developing their brains and their decision making is not necessary the best. They don't understand the idea of what's good or bad yet nor do they know that this test is really about racism. However, judging by their id, or initial reaction, towards the questions, it's still interesting how many of them hold these prejudices that still exist in our society today.

@ithinkitscauseofme made a great point about how children interact with the people around them, saying that they tend to mimic the behaviors of familiar or trusted people in their life, which are usually their parents. As a child, these are the people that they have the most exposure too and it's easy to pick up their mannerisms, even if they're subtle. If the parents have been conditioned with biases then it's most likely that their child will subconsciously learn them as well. I remember reading an article asking the question whether or not animals can also hold racist prejudices just like humans and they claimed that some dogs are indeed racist towards black people. The increased aggression when seeing a black person came from their exposure to their owners. If the owner hesitated or were aggressive when around other black people, the dogs picked up on these subtle mannerisms and acted on them. The validity of the article could be questioned but I found it interesting and it's related to these videos we watched in class.

For the IAT, I received the results that I have a moderate preference for black people over white people, which was really surprising for me since the test did say that about 70% of people who take it have an implicit bias for white people over black people. I wonder if my bad reaction speed or horrible keyboard typing has anything to do with the results but I know myself the best and I know that in the past I have been accustomed to racial bias. I have been taught that certain neighborhoods are considered "ghetto" because of their high crime rate but as I gotten older, I learned that there are so many underlying factors that affect marginalized groups in our Boston community. Like @Cookie Monster, I actively try in my everyday life to be anti-racist, making sure I don't come off as ignorant or listening when other voices need to be uplifted, or just educating myself in general. This is the only way to unlearn our old prejudices. As a friend recently told me, our first thoughts are what society conditioned us to believe. But our second thought is what we actually think.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 24

Children learn biases and prejudices from those around them. In the doll study, children showed that they had a “well developed knowledge of the concept of racial difference between ‘white’ and ‘colored’”, but why is that? Why are children left with the burden of the matter of race? Although I agree that people are not born with discriminatory beliefs and/or behaviors, I think it makes sense to have a slight preference for the people that look more like you, i.e. your skin color. My belief is that people are more comfortable with what they grew up with and unless someone is adopted, their parents most likely have the same skin tone as them, making it so that they are more comfortable with people of that skin tone. But I think that preference is extremely miniscule. In the doll study, we see that the higher in age that the children are, the more likely they are to ask for a doll that looks like them. I believe a major part of this is credited towards the fact that during the time of this study, nothing had been desegregated yet. Children were taught their whole lives that they had to stay with the people that had the same skin color as them, and that they weren’t allowed to have any contact with people with a different skin color or even have contact with things that were meant for people with a different skin color.

I think the IAT test was a good measure of our unconscious racial bias. It can be hard to test whether we have a bias or not when we are aware of the test that we are taking and are aware of the purpose of the test, but I think this is probably the best way to test someone's biases with them knowing of the test. Unfortunately, when I took the IAT test, my results did not say I was completely neutral. I wasn’t expecting for my results to come back neutral but I was still hoping they would. My results said that I had a slight preference towards white people. This makes some sense to me because I am white, and it would make sense that I prefer people who also look like me, but when this doesn’t make sense is when people of color take the test and it shows that they also have a preference towards white people. This raises the question: What are we doing that is telling people from when they are toddler that their skin tone and color is worse than others?

I think the IAT test is a valuable exercise and is something that I should make a habit of taking every couple of ears or so. I remember I took this test back around sixth grade and I had a higher preference for white people than I do now. Knowing where we stand with our biases can help us figure out what work needs to be done to us mentally. Part of being a good ally is understanding my own biases and working to combat them. Hardly anyone is perfect, but we should all strive to be.

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