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Letter to the Editor: Implicit Bias

Litzy Reyes-Polanco, WOHS Student

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Dear Editor,

Racism is something that still plagues our society. But while the loud and proud white supremacist is often what comes to mind first, it takes form in much smaller but still detrimental ways. It’s the store clerk that follows you around their store, it’s the government worker that assumes you don’t know English, it’s the television shows that automatically make the characters of color seem untrustworthy, unreliable or even dangerous. This minuscule form of racism is called implicit bias. What makes implicit bias not as widely understood as blunt racism is that by definition, implicit bias is something that occurs subconsciously.

Implicit bias is often rooted in media and what we are exposed to growing up. Just look at dolls and figurines, most are white and children begin to think that the dolls are less desirable. Children will apply this concept to real life. Or, sometimes news outlets will portray white criminals with a sense of pity, by discussing their families or their successes. However, criminals of color are often distinguished by their previous criminal history, developing the impression that people of color are more violent. Everybody has some form of implicit bias and while that’s something that people cannot change, a person should understand that it is there and look beyond the bias.

Implicit bias, while not as easily accountable as racism, still holds horrifying effects on our society. On Nov. 24, 2017, the black 17-year-old, Jordan Davis, and his 3 friends were confronted by white 47-year-old, Michael Dunn, due to their vehicle’s loud music. The argument got heated and supposedly, Davis exited the car, threatened to kill Dunn and pulled out a shotgun. It’s then that Dunn reached into his glove compartment, took out his gun and shot 10 rounds into Davis’ legs, lungs, and heart. Davis died soon after and Dunn didn’t alert the police about his involvement until the next day.

While the defense ensured the case wasn’t a race issue, it clearly is. I can almost guarantee that if Davis and his friends had been white, the altercation wouldn’t have been as violent. All minorities, but black people especially, have such toxic stereotypes that are portrayed in the media and affects them harshly throughout life. While implicit bias is something that everyone possesses, we must have the clarity to recognize that most stereotypes are false and with that clarity will come the ability to shape a better future. A future where Dunn will not kill Davis, where the clerk will not follow us, where the government will not assume the language you speak. A future where people are just people and their stereotype does not define them.

Signed,

Litzy Reyes-Polanco

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