- Why were the responses so different?
- Do you think the passersby were racist? Did they hold stereotypes? Implicit biases?
- What would you have done?
Stereotypes operate in a similar way in forming implicit biases. Stereotypes can operate as primers and prevent us from accurately perceiving situations and people.
What does it mean that our perception can be so easily fooled? In the scenarios above, what were the doctor, teacher, employer and woman on the elevator primed to see? How about the passersby at the park? In each case, what might they fail to see or understand as a result of their implicit biases?
Our brains constantly discard and invent information to build a reality that feels right to us, based on experience and context. These neural tricks are necessary – without them, we’d be incapacitated by all the information coming at us all the time. In most situations, these shortcuts do their job well but they’re not perfect. When it comes to racial understanding in America, our unconscious biases are filtering our impressions and limiting our ability to fully engage.