This unconscious discriminatory attitude is known as implicit bias or implicit social cognition and is well documented by social scientists and psychologists. The Kirwan Institute at Ohio State University defines implicit bias as “the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. Activated involuntarily, without awareness or intentional control.” When it is defined this way, it becomes easy to see that implicit bias exists in every person, in every culture, in every era. It emerges from our cultural conditioning, which includes the media we consume, the religion we practice, the family we come from, the neighborhood we grow up in, the politicians who represent us, the laws we’re held accountable to – just about every aspect of our daily lives. These biases are all pervasive and automatic, and they don’t often reflect what we consciously believe or the ideals we confess to be true for us.
Because implicit bias exists unconsciously within us, if we are to ever address and change them, we must be careful to identify exactly what the dominant biases in our culture are, become aware of them in our own actions and thinking, and then actively work against them. This is precisely why conversations around racism have recently shifted from being about resisting racism to being antiracist, suggesting that to actually kill the disease of racism in our culture, we must no simply believe that racism is wrong, but we must actively work to oppose racist thinking and action in our own consciousness and in society at large.
From “Filled to Be Emptied: The Path to Liberation for Privileged People” by Brandan Robertson – Westminster John Knox Press