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Unconscious Bias

Updated: Jan 17, 2021

Equity, Diversity, Inclusion.

These are all words used to address the effects of unconscious biases in our society.

I love the show, "Madam Secretary." Spoiler alert, in Season 6, she becomes "Madam President," representing the first female president of The United States of America. The entire 6th season reminds me of President Barrack Obama's first term in office. The constant battle with the opposition party, the petty bickering, the attempts to question his presidency's legitimacy by questioning his place of birth, etc. All arrows were coming at President Obama as had never been before to the most influential office in the Nation (possibly the world). The one thing that stood out? The color of his skin.

Back to "Madam Secretary," in the final two episodes of Season 6, President Elizabeth McCord revives the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution to support equal legal rights for all American citizens, regardless of gender. In real life, the ERA has not passed, and the Constitution remains the same, as described in the declaration of independence by 24 men that "all MEN are created equal." Now, I am not savvy enough to describe the ERA's real implication, as there are proponents for and against. Some against include women, who believe defining equality negates God's Word in 1 Peter 3:7, which asks men to "dwell with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor unto the woman, as unto the weaker vessel and as being heirs together of the grace of life,that your prayers may not be hindered." Again, I digress.

The struggle President McCord (in Season 6 of Madam Secretary) had culminated in her attempt to change the Constitution to affirm equity, respect diversity, and embrace inclusion for all, women in particular. Here's where I am going with this: the assumption that a female president cannot do what a male president can is absurd. The assumption that the first black president of the United States of America was not ideal for the land's highest office was equally ridiculous. These are grand examples that are palpable to all, but how do you address the absence of equity, diversity, and inclusion daily without addressing unconscious bias?

Let's test your bias right now. Answer sincerely what gender and race the following description fit to you:

  1. Driver, early 20's, listening to Kendric Lamar?

  2. Three joggers (same gender), all in bright-colored running shoes, Apple Airpods, one pushing a baby in a stroller, affluent neighborhood?

  3. A conference call with the new CEO of the multinational corporation you work for worth $20 billion?

The real problem is in our minds. How we think of one another determines how we react to one another. When a preconceived notion exists that women are weaker, therefore cannot lead the strongest Nation in the world, we're practicing unconscious bias. When a preconceived notion exists that black men are good for nothing but entertainment and fieldwork, hence incompetent in navigating the sophisticated office of a President, Governor, Chief Executive Officer, etc., we've practiced that same unconscious bias.

So what are some ways to address your unconscious bias?

  1. Be aware of yours. Know that there are different kinds of unconscious bias. (1) Like-me bias where you are biased favorably to people who look like you. (2) Anchor bias where you take mental note of the first thing you hear and hold on to it. (3) Confirmation bias, where immediate observations confirm your prior notion, and you act based on that. See others (more specific) in the image above.

  2. Know what triggers you. Are you triggered in specific environments, i.e., work? Do specific comments trigger you? Can you link your triggers to stress, workload?

  3. Pause, think, then act. When you find yourself thinking bias, to combat that, you could pause for a few seconds, think through what your intentions and desired actions are, then think through what the right response should be. Never feel pressured to make the right decision, allow yourself time to pause, think, then act.

  4. Find accountability in a trusted ally. Accountability is critical in addressing any character trait, likewise in righting personal unconscious biases. Finding someone you trust, preferably around when and where you typically express these biases, could help keep you honest. Trust in this individual is key to yielding the desired outcome. The last thing you want is to be concerned about them blackmailing you.

Now I must say that inclusion is within the guidelines of God's intention for man and woman. This discussion is about gender by biology, not choice. Inclusion, as made by God, is what the Constitution speaks to. This is my belief. For clarity, I quote.:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (should be all People with regards to the 3 rights mentioned in my opinion) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Note my opinion and emphasis in green above.

The goal for all people to be treated fairly is the ultimate. The use of equitable practices, respect for diversity, and the embrace of inclusion are all tools to combat unconscious bias. Unconscious bias, however, starts in our minds. Fundamentally, we must feed our minds good thoughts that'll encourage equality, diversity, and inclusion. All based on The Creator's standards.

Best wishes,


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