101 summary of unconscious bias

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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by reboot on Wed Feb 25, 2015 11:20 pm

Basically picture being exactly how you are but also black/blind/transgender/other group that lacks privilege. You get all the poor reaction to your interview skills AND any conscious/unconscious bias against your group
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by Guest on Wed Feb 25, 2015 11:34 pm

I read an interesting article today that talked about how privilege often boils down to getting stuff you didn't earn.  They discussed a study that put 29 young adults on buses with an empty fare card and had them ask for free rides. The drivers let 72% of white testers ride free, and only 36% of black testers, with the effect more pronounced if fewer people were on the bus.  The gap persisted with drivers of both races, and with people dressed similarly. (The most striking, to me, was testers in military uniforms -- 97% of white testers were allowed to ride free, vs 77% of black testers).

Basically, the argument is that people aren't kicking black people off the bus, or arresting innocent black people (much).  It's that a white man pulled over for speeding will be let off with a warning more often.  And because this just feels like the way society works for us, white people don't realize the world is different for people of other races.  

I suspect that a white man in an interview will get more of a break for avoiding eye contact than a black man will.  It may not be enough, and that sucks, and I don't fault you for being frustrated.  But the world approaches white men prepared to be forgiving in a way they aren't for everyone.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/24/opinion/research-shows-white-privilege-is-real.html?_r=0

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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by The Wisp on Thu Feb 26, 2015 12:27 am

ElizaJane wrote:I read an interesting article today that talked about how privilege often boils down to getting stuff you didn't earn.

That seems more like, as the article said, benefit of the doubt. If privilege is getting stuff that you haven't earned, then that implies that it should be taken away. In other words, privileged people should be hurt, not disprivileged people helped.
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by nearly_takuan on Thu Feb 26, 2015 12:32 am

Only if your worldview says that people should only get what they earn. I profoundly dislike the influence that belief has on American culture. I don't think acknowledgement of personhood should have to be earned. (So I suppose it's a matter of framing what "earned" means as well. I see it as an active thing, disconnected from the concept of passively "deserving" something.)
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by nearly_takuan on Thu Feb 26, 2015 12:35 am

On second thought, there are many cases in which "getting exactly what you have earned" is a form of privilege. Such as getting to be respected as a scholar in your own field after working hard for your credentials.
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by Guest on Thu Feb 26, 2015 12:46 am

The Wisp wrote:
ElizaJane wrote:I read an interesting article today that talked about how privilege often boils down to getting stuff you didn't earn.

That seems more like, as the article said, benefit of the doubt. If privilege is getting stuff that you haven't earned, then that implies that it should be taken away. In other words, privileged people should be hurt, not disprivileged people helped.

I think this may be, like nearly_takuan said below, a semantic disagreement. To me "things you didn't earn" implies, "Stuff which there's no reason you should expect." I earn my paycheck. I earn respect in my field. I don't earn an invitation to drinks after work with my manager. I earn my degree. I don't earn mentorship from a professor. These are unearned privileges -- I may have contributed to my getting them, but an awful lot of it is based off of circumstance, luck, and personality (of other people, not me).

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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by nearly_takuan on Thu Feb 26, 2015 12:58 am

On third thought, I feel weird about defining privilege in terms of its symptoms at all. Yeah, privilege sometimes manifests as getting stuff you didn't earn. Sometimes it manifests as getting to have stuff you simply deserve, while others do not. Sometimes it manifests as being able to have things you neither earn nor deserve, but I think this is a pretty rare case and tends to apply more to things like social/financial status than to race, gender, etc.

But there are other things in life that are "unfair" in a somewhat similar sense (heavily influenced by luck, circumstance, the attitudes of other people, etc.) yet are not necessarily diagnostic of privilege (im)balance or whatever. Yep, I'm talking about dating. Razz
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by eselle28 on Thu Feb 26, 2015 1:16 am

nearly_takuan wrote:On third thought, I feel weird about defining privilege in terms of its symptoms at all. Yeah, privilege sometimes manifests as getting stuff you didn't earn. Sometimes it manifests as getting to have stuff you simply deserve, while others do not. Sometimes it manifests as being able to have things you neither earn nor deserve, but I think this is a pretty rare case and tends to apply more to things like social/financial status than to race, gender, etc.

But there are other things in life that are "unfair" in a somewhat similar sense (heavily influenced by luck, circumstance, the attitudes of other people, etc.) yet are not necessarily diagnostic of privilege (im)balance or whatever. Yep, I'm talking about dating. Razz

I can see the difficulty you point to, because concepts like "earn" and "deserve" are difficult to pin down, especially when the example involves something aside from housing, employment, treatment by the police, or other very key aspects of life where there are discrimination laws providing general guidance as to what's fair. I do still think there's a use for speaking about it in terms of examples, though, or at least I tend to miss a lot of my own privilege when it's talked about in broader terms.

I would say that I think people having things they neither earn nor deserve is less rare than you do. I'm thinking not so much as the children of the rich receiving job offers they're unqualified for as things affecting relative representation in social discourse. That sounds vague, too. Specifically, I'm thinking that the views of middle class white Americans get represented very loudly in comparison to the prevalence of people who fit that description, both in the US and worldwide. I'm also thinking that I can easily ignore the views of people from other backgrounds if I want to, and that it's unlikely I'll experience consequences from doing so or even have my assumptions challenged. I haven't earned this, and I don't think I deserve it, either. It seems like something that might affect a fairly high number of people rather than being rare and isolated.
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by kath on Thu Feb 26, 2015 2:11 am

nearly_takuan wrote:
But there are other things in life that are "unfair" in a somewhat similar sense (heavily influenced by luck, circumstance, the attitudes of other people, etc.) yet are not necessarily diagnostic of privilege (im)balance or whatever. Yep, I'm talking about dating. Razz

Nearly, would you mind explaining what you mean there? I think I'm not getting it and I'd like to understand better.
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by nearly_takuan on Thu Feb 26, 2015 2:42 am

kath wrote:
nearly_takuan wrote:
But there are other things in life that are "unfair" in a somewhat similar sense (heavily influenced by luck, circumstance, the attitudes of other people, etc.) yet are not necessarily diagnostic of privilege (im)balance or whatever. Yep, I'm talking about dating. Razz

Nearly, would you mind explaining what you mean there? I think I'm not getting it and I'd like to understand better.

Well, I might attribute some of my own dating problems to lack of sex-drive-having privilege, but more than likely a lot also comes down to luck, unrelated circumstances (e.g. location, demands on my life/time/energy from other sources, whom I know/don't know/meet), and cultural/structural factors that may seem to affect me specifically more than most but can't really be given a class unto themselves in broader terms than effectively claiming that other people have isn't-nearly-takuan privilege and that "can get another person to agree to go on a date" is a privilege. That seems like an absurd result. And of course, there's no moral value, positive or negative, in the mundane fact of me having problems in this or that area; there's nothing being done to me and there's no reason anyone should be particularly concerned about any imbalance of opportunity in that realm. So there's a line to be drawn, somewhere.

I don't mean to say that privilege must always have its source in something that is actively done to people—certainly there are plenty of examples against that claim! But I think discussions on the concept of privilege tend to rely on that term also having ethical and structural implications, which aren't really there when you're only talking about a single person's experiences (no structural symptoms) within an area that has a lot to do with individual preferences and taste (no ethical responsibilities). Chronic dating problems are a counterexample to the idea that privilege can be perfectly defined in terms of what people earn/deserve: one's love life (or lack thereof) can demonstrate a great deal of potential contrast between what a person sees as outcomes and what that same person has worked for (or what outside observers may or may not claim that person is "worth"); yet it isn't possible to directly use that as a litmus test for privilege.

Meh. There also might be nothing at all to what I'm saying. I'm tired, in every sense of the phrase I can think of, which currently isn't all that many. Sorry if I've taken things off track.
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by kleenestar on Thu Feb 26, 2015 7:07 am

I'm going to be pedantic here in a way I usually try not to be, but I think it's potentially productive.

NT is right - privilege as a concept (as opposed to how privilege is popularly used) is about systems, not outcomes. It's about who is seen as "default" and therefore who systems are implicitly designed for. For example, to use JP's example, a system that privileged autistic viewpoints would make in-person interviews uncommon, difficult to set up, and strange for a person to request. That would be considered the norm and no one would question or even really see it.

I distinguish this concept from bias (unfair judgments) and injustice (unfair outcomes). While all three are related and reinforce each other, it's helpful to distinguish in conversations like this. For example, addressing "getting things you didn't earn" can be tackled from the point of view of system design, bias, or outcomes.

More directly to the point: some bias manifests as people getting things they didn't earn and some as people not getting things they did earn and some as people having differential access to things that can't be earned. It varies case by case.
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by reboot on Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:44 am

Another example of privilege is bathrooms. If you are able bodied you have the privilege of never having to think about whether you can access the bathroom in a restaurant. If you rely on a wheelchair, your ability to go places is constrained by the availability of accessible bathrooms. In a world that privileged those in wheelchairs, all bathrooms would be wheelchair accessible. It would be the default.

Soapbox

I need to touch on the concept of "deserve" because to me it can be laden with class privilege. Many people say things like, "I deserve it because I worked hard in school and got this degree and was qualified for X " not realizing that the ability to go to school is tightly linked to parent's income and education. For example, it is tied to the luxury of not having to financially support your parents and siblings, having the safety net of a family home to stay in past age 17 if need be, the extracurricular activities you can put on your application because you do not need to work, the school activities you can participate in since you have to opt out of anything that costs extra (e.g. trips for debate club, AP science because of lab fees at the university because your school has no labs, anything that requires non-public transportation) etc.. Going to school at all is easier if you start from a family that has assets (e.g. a home) because it is easier to get loans at a less than crippling interest rate (or at all). Staying in school is easier because you do not need to drop out and work if something happens to one of your parents.

Etc.

/soapbox

Sorry, that is my own personal bugaboo.
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by LadyLuck on Thu Feb 26, 2015 12:52 pm

I have to agree that our society has a complicated relationship with the notion "deserve". We all tend to agree that work towards a goal makes a person more deserving of that goal. But we're really bad at evaluating how hard that work really is. Or, alternatively, we aren't very honest about how much work some things really are.

Society regularly erases or de-values certain kinds of work(dealing with bad family circumstances), or work from certain kinds of people (people of color, women), while consistently over-valuing other types of work(entrepreneurship) or work from other types of people(white dudes). They kind of feed off each other too - if you're a white dude, you're more likely to get to be an entrepreneur, and if you want to start a business, you're more likely to succeed if you're a white dude.

So with that being said, a person "working" for something as a sign of deserving-ness is kind of a toss-up. I wouldn't universally say "If you want X thing, you need to do Y work" 100% of the time. Instead it would make more sense to ask generally what a person has done to try to earn what they want. I don't think having a hyper-specific "right" answer to that is what's important. What's important is that you can come up with a relevant answer at all.

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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by Dan_Brodribb on Thu Feb 26, 2015 2:18 pm

'Deserves' is a tricky word to me because it often feels like the love child of 'natural consequences' and 'moral judgement.' It contains a mixture of both parents: entitlement, basic human rights, blame, responsibility, accountability, and judgement.

"I deserve a hot partner because I'm a nice person."

"I deserve to be treated well in a relationship."

"I can't leave this person, so I deserve to be abused."

I think a lot of the disagreements we might have around these statements are about the ratio of 'blame/entitlement' vs. 'result of choices/responsibility/basic human worth' and the most effective discussions are able to boil those elements off into their seperate components instead of lumping them together into one word.

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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by JP McBride on Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:59 pm

kleenestar wrote:I'm going to be pedantic here in a way I usually try not to be, but I think it's potentially productive.

NT is right - privilege as a concept (as opposed to how privilege is popularly used) is about systems, not outcomes. It's about who is seen as "default" and therefore who systems are implicitly designed for. For example, to use JP's example, a system that privileged autistic viewpoints would make in-person interviews uncommon, difficult to set up, and strange for a person to request. That would be considered the norm and no one would question or even really see it.

I distinguish this concept from bias (unfair judgments) and injustice (unfair outcomes). While all three are related and reinforce each other, it's helpful to distinguish in conversations like this. For example, addressing "getting things you didn't earn" can be tackled from the point of view of system design, bias, or outcomes.

More directly to the point: some bias manifests as people getting things they didn't earn and some as people not getting things they did earn and some as people having differential access to things that can't be earned. It varies case by case.

Personally, I take a ruthlessly pragmatic approach to concepts like privilege. To me, they're tools to educate, enlighten, and persuade people to support the values of social justice. Because of that, I tend to take an agnostic view of the definitions and boundaries between concepts like privilege as I'm more interested in knowing where they're 'centered' so to speak. I picture the center of privilege as a well meaning person asking "Why can't they just ... ?" When used in a 'sweet spot' like that, privilege becomes a powerful tool for explaining how society works.

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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by kath on Mon Mar 09, 2015 1:52 am

Thanks for explaining, Nearly!
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by reboot on Thu Mar 12, 2015 9:40 am

This comic shows some very typical types of unconscious bias. I know the last two frames are crazy common
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by waxingjaney on Thu Mar 12, 2015 6:45 pm

Yeah, that's all messed up on both sides.
Giving the pale women neutral expressions, while the brown women have a frowny grimace is also messed up.
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by reboot on Thu Mar 12, 2015 7:12 pm

waxingjaney wrote:Yeah, that's all messed up on both sides.
Giving the pale women neutral expressions, while the brown women have a frowny grimace is also messed up.

Huh, I thought they were frowning because the person was being a jerk with their comments? Or maybe that is because I would frown?
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by Enail on Thu Mar 12, 2015 8:40 pm

That's what I thought, too, Reboot.
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by Wondering on Thu Mar 12, 2015 9:01 pm

Same, here.

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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by reboot on Fri May 01, 2015 12:24 pm

This article shines an interesting light on conscious and unconscious bias in reporting about the Baltimore riots
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by JP McBride on Fri May 01, 2015 7:04 pm

reboot wrote:This article shines an interesting light on conscious and unconscious bias in reporting about the Baltimore riots

I'm confused, is she saying that the media fabricates quotes when reporting on riots in other countries?

Also, the headline is amusing:

If what is happening in Baltimore happened in a foreign country, here is how Western media would cover it:

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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by reboot on Sat May 02, 2015 12:24 am

JP McBride wrote:
reboot wrote:This article shines an interesting light on conscious and unconscious bias in reporting about the Baltimore riots

I'm confused, is she saying that the media fabricates quotes when reporting on riots in other countries?

Also, the headline is amusing:

If what is happening in Baltimore happened in a foreign country, here is how Western media would cover it:

No. That uprisings by minorities are given more sympathetic coverage if the do not occur in the journalist's home country
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Re: 101 summary of unconscious bias

Post by JP McBride on Sat May 02, 2015 4:57 pm

reboot wrote:No. That uprisings by minorities are given more sympathetic coverage if the do not occur in the journalist's home country

Do they? If you look at the WaPo's coverage of the 2005 riots in France, it's nothing like Attiah's parody:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/04/AR2005110400183.html

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