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Understanding Unconscious Bias and Unintentional Racism March 30, 2009 Nassau Tract Jean Moule, PhD Oregon State University.

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Presentation on theme: "Understanding Unconscious Bias and Unintentional Racism March 30, 2009 Nassau Tract Jean Moule, PhD Oregon State University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Understanding Unconscious Bias and Unintentional Racism March 30, 2009 Nassau Tract Jean Moule, PhD Oregon State University

2 Our Children Are Like Seedlings

3 Cared for by Parents

4 Planted in Homes and Communities

5 Living in Families Who Nurture Their Early Areas of Strength

6 In Hopes That These Trees Will Grow to Their Full Potential

7 Balled up and sent to Us!


9 A Teacher's Revelation: I've come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It's my personal approach that creates the climate. It's my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher I possess a tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanized or de-humanized. -- Haim Ginot, Child Psychologist

10 What kind of weather??

11 Surviving maybe

12 Thriving

13 Some Problems Achievement Gap Persists Classrooms Becoming More Diverse Shortage of Teacher Diversity Racial/Ethnic Mismatch Between Students and Teachers

14 Question How does this mismatch between students and teachers inform the achievement gap?



17 “ Liberal educators believe themselves to be operating with good intentions, but these good intentions are only conscious delusions about their unconscious motives.” ~Delpit, 1988, p. 285

18 Re-fencing Absolution Reconstruct Aversive Racism Amygdala “Integrity” Stereotype Stereotype Threat Definitions..

19 "When a fact cannot fit into a mental field, the exception is acknowledged, but the field is hastily fenced in again and not allowed to remain dangerously open.” ~Allport,1954, p. 23 Re-fencing


21 I am absolved from racism because…. ~Thompson, 2003 Absolution

22 Matt’s Story

23 In an ambiguous situation one may remember details in a way that confirms one’s stereotype. ~Diller & Moule, 2005 Reconstruction

24 Ambiguous Image

25 Examples of Unconscious Biases Jamal and Keisha or John and Emily Co-worker Study Stereotype Threat

26 Lean forward a little less Be less expressive Maintain less eye contact Stand a little further away Smile a lot less Hesitate and stumble over words a bit Laugh at jokes a bit less ~Gladwell, 2005, p.85 Non-verbal

27 Source: Dovidio, J. F., & Gaertner, S. L. (Winter, 2005). Color blind or just plain blind. The Nonprofit Quarterly, 12(4). Unconscious Biases at Work 4 minutes 5 minutes 6 minutes

28 White response: Related to publicly expressed attitude Black response: Related to unconscious attitude

29 “The contradiction that exists when the denial of personal prejudice co-exists with underlying unconscious negative feelings and beliefs.” ~Dovidio & Gaertner, 2005, p. 2 Aversive Racism

30 “Although many white Americans consider themselves unbiased, when unconscious stereotypes are measured, some 90% implicitly link blacks with negative traits (evil, failure)." ~Begley, 2004, p. 1

31 Look, Mommy,….. Doll “Studies” 2006 2009 1954 The demo doll

32 Part of the brain that has instant activity in a “flight or fight” reaction upon encountering an unexpected person or situation. ~Begley, 2004 Amygdala

33 Changing that first reaction in a nanosecond in order to overcome built-in biases and respond as their better, undiscriminating selves. Conscious Override

34 Decreasing levels of control: Words Facial Expressions Body language Tone of voice ~Benari, personal communication, 2009 Integrity

35 We are far better off acknowledging our possible biases and trying to work together openly with that knowledge. ~Moule, 2009

36 A simplistic image or distorted truth about a group based on a prejudgment of habits, traits, abilities, or expectations. ~Weinstein & Mellen, 1997 Stereotype

37 Airport Story  Denial  Distraction  Absolution  Blame the Victim  Guilt Racial Identity Development

38 We need to become less focused on feeling very tolerant and good about ourselves and more focused on examining our own biases. ~Moule, 2009

39 When a person of color brings up race as an issue--listen deeply If the person indicates that he or she is offended, don’t be defensive Do not begin to talk quickly Do not explain why they are misinterpreting the situation Do not begin crying ~Dovidio & Gaertner, 2005. P. 5 When Race Becomes an Issue

40 We make connections more quickly between pairs of ideas that are already related in our minds, as opposed to those that are unfamiliar May indicate "little or no bias" or a bias rated as "slight", "moderate" or "strong" The IAT: Implicit Association Test Implicit Association Test

41 Who took it? Who was surprised by the results? Implicit Association Test

42 “ We would like to believe that when a person has a conscious commitment to change, the very act of discovering one’s hidden biases can propel one to act to correct it.” ~Teaching Tolerance, 2001, p. 4

43 “It may not be possible to avoid the automatic stereotype or prejudice, but it is certainly possible to consciously rectify it.” ~Teaching Tolerance, 2001, p. 4

44 Teachers

45 Students

46 Refers to being at-risk of confirming, as self- characteristic, a negative stereotype about one’s group. ~Steele & Aronson, 1995 Stereotype Threat

47 47 Example: In several experiments Black college freshmen and sophomores performed more poorly on standardized tests than White students when their race was emphasized. When race was not emphasized, however, Black students performed better and equivalently with White students.

48 48 Documented in a large number of groups  Women on math tests (Spencer, Steele & Quinn,1999)  African-Americans on standardized tests (Steele & Aronson, 1995)  Hispanics on standardized tests (Gonzales, Blanton & Williams, 2002)  Low SES students on standardized tests (Croizet & Claire, 1998)  Women on negotiation tasks (Kray, Galinsky & Thompson, 2002)  Men on social sensitivity tasks (Koenig & Eagly, 2005)  Whites on tasks that require being non-racist (Richeson & Shelton, 2003)  White men (compared with Black men) on athletic tasks (Stone, Sjomeling, Lynch, & Darley, 1999)  White men (compared with Asian men) on math tests (Aronson, Lustinga, Good, Keough, Steele, & Brown,1999) ~List from Block, Roberson & Merriweather

49 49 Stereotype threat:  Occurs when individuals are in a performance situation and are aware that there is a negative stereotype about their group that suggests they will not perform well  Occurs regardless of whether the individual believes the stereotype  Occurs regardless of the accuracy of the stereotype

50 50 Stereotype contexts: The task an individual is performing is relevant to the stereotype The task is challenging The context in which the task is being performed is likely to reinforce the stereotype

51 51 Stereotype threat consequences: Decreased short term task performance Decreased achievement test performance

52 52 Stereotype threat changes performance: Physiological arousal Reduced working memory capacity Anxiety Excess effort Lowered performance expectations Source:

53 Intelligent, motivated student faces a difficult, stereotype relevant test Search for explanation of difficulty Others assume that student performance accurately reflects ability Student performs test, but performance is disrupted by stereotype threat Student becomes frustrated and demotivated Stereotype comes to mind Context reinforces stereotype Chart from Block, Roberson, & Merriweather, 2008

54 What can we do?

55 Teach Persistence

56 Suggestions for Overcoming Stereotype Threat Source: Reframing the task De-emphasizing threatened social identities Encouraging self-affirmation Emphasizing high standards with assurances of capability Providing role models Providing external attributions for difficulty Emphasizing an incremental view of ability

57 Growing Strong, Moving On

58 Thriving

59 Growing as a TREE…

60 …Bringing Forth Fruit in Season

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