Dealing with Racism, Bias, and Preconceived Notions

I am not a monolith! We are not a monolith! I want to start by expressing this as the first step to understanding other races and cultures, not of your own is there are many different ideas in a specific subset.

Technology Provides Greater Insight

Technological advances from computers, tablets, and smartphones changed the dynamic. The word that the kids say these days is “woke.” The fact that technology has given us multiple encyclopedias at the palm of our hands has created an awakening. My journey started in the 1980s, which made a mold for my thoughts and beliefs.

The family attempted to mold the mindset early into preconceived notions of others. School teachers taught condensed versions of the historical text to place our socioeconomic conditions in the best light.

I like to think I am part of the last generation of blindness and the first generation of foresight. I technically am Generation X, but I relate more with Generation Y since I came into existence at the tail end. Going to grade school in the 1980s and 1990s created an onslaught of experiences that, looking back at now, allows me to understand how bias can creep into your beliefs. 

The Deep Roots of Racism

Our society teaches racism, bias, and preconceived notions and hands down from generation to generation. I am blessed to come out of this time to be where I am today, where the vast majority of these thoughts did not stick. However, I know that for many that grew up in those times, that is not the case. Advice that I can give is difficult because those who do not want to hear will not listen.

Alyssa Buccella wrote an article for EAB last month. She stated, “racism also occurs because of the default way that whole group’s function—the preferred behaviors, the rules in place, or the way resources are managed.” Ms. Buccella went further and delved into how our current structures are set up for us to fall down this path. I could write a book on that topic, and maybe I will write a book on the topic one day, but to keep this post shorter, I’ll leave it with I agree and to suggest you check out her article.  

My Personal Experiences With Bigotry

The best way I felt to make my point is to go over some examples that I have experienced in my four decades here on earth:

  • While wearing a hoodie and baggy jeans in a shopping mall, I approached a couple in the thoroughfare, and the husband or boyfriend grabbed her and pulled to make sure I did not get too close. 
  • When I was a kid, many of my peers always made smart comments or automatically believed that I loved certain television shows starring people of color.

Where Can We Go From Here

My suggestions are simple, and that is to be a free thinker. It would help if you eroded any sense that, based on how someone dresses, carries themselves or looks, that does not mean they are who you think. I can tell you I have had some of the best conversations with people I have played sports with I barely knew, or the person next to be at a bar, or someone in line at the checkout line. Bad moments have taken place in all of these spots as well.

I can not tell you how many times I have not approached someone because I have written a book about them before meeting them. I only find out in the end that the book I wrote was about someone completely different. A real understanding of others’ experiences requires engagement with other ideas and thoughts that are not in line with your own.

We desperately need a real understanding of one another. It never goes unnoticed the limited amounts of racism you find in the military, sports teams, or within a business that employs a multicultural staff.

Why, may you ask? These units define themselves as one unit, and color does not matter when working for one common goal. Eventually, incorrect labels, thoughts, and ideas about people of different races and origins erode.

Whose Not Inside Your Bubble

I have found that individuals who have bubbles that lack other races inherently find themselves with preconceived biases. You can within your work bubble and life bubble identify a problem if most of these bubbles consist of people who look and think like you.

Let us suppose you are committed to breaking down the racism walls in your personal life branch out to find someone from another race to join your bubble. I am talking about developing a close friendship.

When an opening comes up at work, offer up qualified candidates from other races that you researched to your boss. Challenge your boss to increase diversity within your ranks. Even do your own recruiting and encourage them to apply for the open position. A proactive interest in the hiring process is within the best interest of the organization.

You will continuously find that those in power levy more pressure when things go wrong based on their preconceived notions of others’ abilities. This pressure turns into blame, and finally, dismissal with a mentally comfortable replacement. The beauty of a better understanding of others is improved decision making, a healthier office environment, and increased business opportunity.

Stop blaming others for our circumstances, a challenge that is a hallmark of the human experience. We can end racism, bias, and preconceived notions by committing ourselves to experience other races and cultures in all aspects of our lives. This advice is for all races, no matter your race or origin.

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