Me and Unconscious Bias

I’m not a racist and no, there isn’t a but coming. I just wasn’t brought up that way, and it would never occur to me to treat someone differently because of the color of their skin. I think that’s stupid. But I never gave that much thought to it until I went away to college. I came home for various vacations and since I was close to my parents, I’d tell them all about my new friends at college. My mother eventually came to visit me and met some of these people, some of whom were black or hispanic. She was pleasantly surprised because I had apparently never thought to mention their color to her, any more than I had described Stewart as having dark brown hair and Willa as being blonde. (Okay, I did tell her Helen was a redhead—I mean, that hair had really made an impression on me.)

My mother later told me it meant a lot to her, because she had tried very hard while bringing me up to make sure I didn’t see a difference based on color. And when she found she had succeeded, she was very proud of herself. I hadn’t realized I’d never mentioned skin colors and when I thought of it, I realized it was because that didn’t have anything to do with who these people were to me or why I liked them.

So, not racist. But lately I’ve read a lot about unconscious bias and I figured it was probably true of me, too. After all, I can be a bit snobby sometimes, and there’s no doubt in my mind that while your color doesn’t register with me in any meaningful kind of way, your class does. And that surely is next door to bias.

So I took the unconscious bias test at Project Implicit. I both wanted confirmation that my bias was small and feared that I’d find out it was quite large. But better to know than not, right?

I was surprised. This is my result: Your data suggest little or no preference between White People and Black People.

So, still not racist. And I really wish I could share it with my mother.


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