But first, we must recognize that we live in a society where certain communities are marginalized because of their identity labels like race, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, or ability. This affects how individuals are perceived and experience the world -- and it also affects how our society and systems work.
The good news is there are many things we can do to create a more equal and just world. The first step is understanding how bias, discrimination, and hate impact us as individuals and as a society.
On an individual level, we all have implicit bias. Implicit biases are the assumptions, stereotypes, and unintentional actions we make towards others based on identity labels. They can be both positive and negative, and develop over the course of our lifetime through our own experiences as well as internalized messages from family, the media, pop culture, and more. Implicit associations are stored in our subconscious — where we do 98% of our thinking. Unfortunately, this means that we may act on our biases without even realizing it which can create situations that make it difficult for people to find a job, secure a loan, get a fair trial, or simply go about everyday activities. One way to prevent this from happening is by learning about your own biases, and identifying moments where you can change the way you see and interact with others.
In addition to understanding and correcting our implicit bias, we must also look outward to examine how our systems and structures advantage some groups and disadvantage others. Our systems and environments -- from schools to workplaces to communities -- have been impacted by and have contributed to forms of systemic oppression like racism, sexism, ableism and other forms of discrimination. Often, our implicit biases arise from policies and practices that have been used throughout history to include or exclude certain groups of people. Therefore, implicit bias and structural inequity are inextricably tied and create a vicious cycle.
Once we learn how biases are formed and why discrimination happens, there are steps we can take as individuals to address bias, discrimination, and hate.
Two smiling Bolivian women wearing elaborate green, yellow, and red costume dresses and feathered headdresses that say Pasion Boliviana.