No matter your education, connections, or political alignment, the fact of the matter is this: all white people have racial biases toward people of color. This is a hard pill to swallow but an important one. Let’s also note that this does not mean you are necessarily a practicing racist.
What it does mean is that by not being a member of a marginalized community, you have inherent biases simply because you don’t share the same experiences. Unlearning your built-in, and likely subconscious, racial biases will allow you to better support people of color and be an advocate for those whose voices are silenced. Working with a therapist is a great way to uncover and unlearn your racial biases and we have providers ready to connect with you.
Uncovering Racial Biases
Perhaps the hardest part in the process is identifying where your racial biases lie. First, we need to understand what racism is. You could go around a group of people and get various answers. If your answer is something along the lines of “discrimination based on ethnicity,” this is a good place to begin.
Racism is a system of institutionalized oppression based on ethnicity. What’s important about this definition is that it takes into account more than just the outright violent acts or slurs against POC or marginalized communities. It is a systemic power hierarchy. This includes matters like people’s resumes being canned because they have an ethnic-sounding name despite being qualified for a role, having a difficult time buying a house in a nice neighborhood, etc.
Identifying where your implicit biases lie starts with recognizing your privileges and scrutinizing your habits. Think about your interactions with those in positions of power, like law enforcement, educators, etc.
Since racism is systemic and relies on power structures, POC and marginalized groups likely have a very different experience from those in positions of power. They may be forced out of their car for simply asking why they were pulled over, have weapons pulled on them despite being cooperative, criticized for using ethnic language or speech patterns in a classroom setting, etc.
Then look at your habits. Who do you follow on social media? Are the majority of them white? What about the movies and TV you watch? How diverse is the cast? Consuming predominately white media means you’re not getting the full picture of people with different lived experiences.
Unlearning Racial Biases
Expand Your Media Consumption
When it comes to unlearning some of these implicit biases, a good place to start is by expanding the media you engage in. Follow POC creators, watch shows with diverse casts, and read books written by POC and marginalized writers. Not only are you supporting and validating their experience and hard work, but you’re also expanding your worldview. If you have non-white friends, engage with them in thoughtful, open conversations about their experiences. Unlearning racial biases is a lifelong process, so take it one step at a time.
Call Out Problematic Comments and Behaviors
When we ignore racist comments during, say, family conversations, we allow prejudice to keep its power to avoid discomfort. Imagine the discomfort of being on the receiving end of racial prejudice. Rather than brush it under the rug, call it out. Counter those harmful narratives with questions. Often, people are simply repeating something they’ve been taught without taking the time to pick apart its logic. In many cases, racially charged comments stem from fear, misinformation, and privilege.
Look for nonprofits in your area that are dedicated to helping marginalized communities and supporting lower-income neighborhoods. Many of these initiatives seek to support minorities through food access, education, stable housing, etc.—all obstacles set out by systemic racism.
Struggling To Unlearn Racial Bias?
Are you struggling with unlearning racial bias or find yourself stressed by growing racist sentiments in the news? Reach out today to learn more about how counseling can help.