It should be a good thing to acknowledge our shortcomings.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a ‘blind spot’ I can’t fix. Every time it happens, I’m oblivious. When a family member or friend has had a haircut, I rarely notice. I’m not saying I don’t see drastic changes. A newly shaven head from a previous bushel of curls, or going from blond to pink and green stripes, is hard to miss. I’m the same with clothing. I don’t register what a person is wearing when I see them.
We like to put people in boxes and label them. We use labels such as, “student, “mother” or “unemployed.” We use unconscious and conscious bias in every decision we make. Each day, we humans make approximately 35 000 choices. Those can be anything from what to wear for the day, to addressing a problem team member at work. To cope, our brain uses biases, speeding up our decision making and judgements.
Unfortunately, most of these biases are not very helpful today. As a survival mechanism, humans used them to distinguish themselves from other tribes, especially when feeling threatened. Today, we have less reason to draw on this trait, since much of our danger’s perceived. And while we might like to believe many of our decisions are rational and logical, the truth is we’re continually under the influence of our biases.
A conscious-cognitive or explicit-bias is one we use intentionally. They’re rooted in negative characteristics such as sexism, racism, and hate. Female doctors are less likely called, “Doctor” than their male colleagues. Female physicians make on average $18 000 less than their male counterparts. In the United States, women of colour were almost three times more likely to lose their babies. One study of over 34 000 patient visits found that black patients wait longer than white patients.
It’s difficult convincing us of our blind spots. It’s proven that individuals who strongly believe they are unbiased are usually agents of the worst kinds of prejudice. And it’s also sadly true, some folks will never be convinced they have blind spots.
Try by being aware-conscious-of the existence of bias in yourself.
I have other blind spots.
I am a racist. I’m a sexist. I’m discriminatory towards people that weigh more than me and less than me. I am prejudice towards gays, lesbians, and anyone different to me. As a 58-year-old, Christian, white Afrikaner male, I have more blind spots than most folks. If doctors, physicians, and surgeons can admit their unconscious biases, why not me.
Not noticing when you’ve recently had a funky new haircut, or this season’s Liverpool strip is innocent. I tell folks, “It’s because I see, ‘the whole you’ when I look at you.” I like to believe that the reason, and most folks react kindly to the explanation.
My other blind spots are far less innocent and deserve a better explanation.
I’ve started to try.
Have an awesome weekend and please be generous! 😄
As always, thanks for reading 🙏
Originally published at https://www.leapfirst.co.za on July 23, 2021.