TED Talk Research
For centuries our great country of America has been at war, it has not been a war over land, money or resources but a war against each other because of our biases inside of us. The fight amongst other races hasn’t gone away like so many think it has but is still prevalent today and we can see that in the daily news. When we hold our biases inside and do not challenge those beliefs then we continue to fight and fear them forever. Rather than avoiding our biases, challenge them by understanding them through interaction.
In a TED Talk titled “How to overcome our biases? Walk boldly toward them” by Verna Myers, she mentions that “A racial bias survey discovered that 70% of white people prefer white people and 50% of blacks prefer white people. Because we automatically see a picture of a black man and it is logically connected to more negative one-word associations than with a white man.” Verna believes that society and school has taught us to believe this way and that our elderly have taught us this. That there needs to be a generation that stops this and teaches something much different.
An experiment was conducted about 10 years ago that tested participants split reaction decisions when flashed pictures of different races. These participants were placed in front of a computer program that simulated police officers on duty and their task was to fire their gun at anyone who they perceived as a threat. During the first trial most of the participants, no matter their race fired most at pictures of African American males. Some of these pictures were males holding books, groceries or sometimes a gun. No matter what was pictured, most participants shot more at these images compared to the Caucasian males. Additional trials were held after certain bias education courses and overtime the number of African American males decreased. Overall the experiment produced “troubling results and suggest that responses to criminal suspects may be biased by the race of the suspect. Such biases, if present among police officers, could lead to tragic outcomes” (Butz, 2005).
Several generations may pass until society reaches a point where people are seen as equals, no matter what race or culture they belong to. The question to ask themselves now is what can I do now to overcome my individual biases? Some may say that we need to try and overlook culture and color and pretend that doesn’t exist. Others think that we should just be nice to those biases until we learn to love them. These may be solutions, but most experts would agree that people should “Stop trying to be a nice person and instead be a real person. Too often do we try and reprogram ourselves into not seeing color when that is not the problem. The issue is what we do when we see different color and how we behave” (Myers, 2014).
Challenging our biases and truly changing our mindset must be tackled head on if any difference will be made. Verna believes that in order to truly take a stab at combating our biases we must “Move towards our biases, rather than simply avoiding them.” If people are biased against African Americans, just avoiding them on the street won’t change our mindset on what we think of them, only by approaching and having conversations do we begin to move past those negative ideas. Other research that has been done on the matter suggests that “by educating ourselves through confrontation and other methods can we effectively overcome our biases” (Crittle, 2017).
Ideally the current information is exactly what is needed to start combating bias throughout American society. In order to further the progression in this battle, the rising generation will need to implement these practices to overcome their own biases and to educate surrounding generations. Ending the current biases means that “older generations need to be taught that these beliefs don’t have a place in today’s society anymore and that they are a thing of the past. While the rising generation matures they will not even know there is a difference between races unless they are taught to believe so” (Myers, 2014). When this begins to happen, biases will die off just like the generations do and soon after there will not be any race biases anymore and there will be a new problem that will need to be fixed but it will be solved together rather than apart.
Through these methods it seems quite possible to effectively eliminating any type of biases out there. Rather than making up a story about someone that we know nothing about, because that’s what a bias is, we figure out the story ourselves and get to know each other through conversation. Then we can look around us and expand our social circles to other cultures that are different from us.
Bias confrontation will be challenging and uncomfortable, but change does not happen if your content where you’re at. Individuals must be willing to help change those around them and correct bad behavior, but they must be willing to change it inside themselves first. Just as Verna states as the title of her speech, walk boldly towards those stereotypes and biases rather than avoiding them. People must also seek their own strategies when engaging others, “rather than just saying hi to these people, go deeper, get closer and further into building actual relationships with these stereotypes” (Myers, 2014). As society continues to combat this intercultural problem within each of us, together people can change cultures, stereotypes, change policies and programs and eventually change the world.