6 Comments

  1. Mursion is creating live virtual simulations to (a) help professionals practice how to confront racism in the workplace; and (b) build empathy for those of outside the “mainstream” by placing professionals in the virtrual shoes of those who are being unfairly treated in the workplace. We believe simulation can be a powerful tool to help companies tackle this essential problem.

  2. Mursion is creating live virtual simulations to (a) help professionals practice how to confront racism in the workplace; and (b) build empathy for those of outside the “mainstream” by placing professionals in the virtrual shoes of those who are being unfairly treated in the workplace. We believe simulation can be a powerful tool to help companies tackle this essential problem.

  3. AnnMarie and Steven,

    This is very important topic, so thank you for raising attention to it. At the same time, the points in the interview gloss over many significant issues that must be understood before getting to a solution. Worse yet, they inadvertently contribute to the problem by reinforcing a common misconception about bias.

    First, you must distinguish between conscious and unconscious bias. While all humans harbor both and they share the same neurological pathways, they are not necessarily “bad” (even those based upon ethnicity, age, gender, etc.). More importantly, having and acting upon biases doesn’t make us “despicable.” Thinking so is one of the reasons most people insist that they are not biased…because it implies that they are broken or defective in some way. And they/we are not, Having biases simply makes us human. Biases exist (and will continue to exist) because the human brain does not have sufficient resources to process a lot of information quickly. And when our brains detect people and/patterns in our environment that have previously been coded by our brains as dangerous, biases evolved as short-cuts to keep us safe.

    As for mitigating (because eliminating is impossible) the influence of bias, we have to look at both individual as well as organizational/structural variables (such as how we select and interview new associates). Even if we discuss just the individual elements, 6 weeks of training our “adult brains” will not unwind or demyelinate decades of reinforced pattern matching, especially if those around us (including our political leaders and candidates) continue to reinforce the validity of those patterns. Some of the best guidance on unconscious bias was developed in the 1950s by Gordon Allport. His theory, called contact hypothesis, has been validated many times as being one of the only techniques (along with mindfulness training) that can slowly begin to mitigate the damage caused by implicit (or even conscious) bias.

    Again, thank you for writing about such an important topic. I hope that future articles will dig even more deeply into both the organizational and individual/biological variables at play!

  4. AnnMarie and Steven,

    This is very important topic, so thank you for raising attention to it. At the same time, the points in the interview gloss over many significant issues that must be understood before getting to a solution. Worse yet, they inadvertently contribute to the problem by reinforcing a common misconception about bias.

    First, you must distinguish between conscious and unconscious bias. While all humans harbor both and they share the same neurological pathways, they are not necessarily “bad” (even those based upon ethnicity, age, gender, etc.). More importantly, having and acting upon biases doesn’t make us “despicable.” Thinking so is one of the reasons most people insist that they are not biased…because it implies that they are broken or defective in some way. And they/we are not, Having biases simply makes us human. Biases exist (and will continue to exist) because the human brain does not have sufficient resources to process a lot of information quickly. And when our brains detect people and/patterns in our environment that have previously been coded by our brains as dangerous, biases evolved as short-cuts to keep us safe.

    As for mitigating (because eliminating is impossible) the influence of bias, we have to look at both individual as well as organizational/structural variables (such as how we select and interview new associates). Even if we discuss just the individual elements, 6 weeks of training our “adult brains” will not unwind or demyelinate decades of reinforced pattern matching, especially if those around us (including our political leaders and candidates) continue to reinforce the validity of those patterns. Some of the best guidance on unconscious bias was developed in the 1950s by Gordon Allport. His theory, called contact hypothesis, has been validated many times as being one of the only techniques (along with mindfulness training) that can slowly begin to mitigate the damage caused by implicit (or even conscious) bias.

    Again, thank you for writing about such an important topic. I hope that future articles will dig even more deeply into both the organizational and individual/biological variables at play!

  5. The problem is that it is almost always too late to change someone’s mind about racism after they have reached adulthood. Many people spend their first 18 to 22 years being brainwashed by federal and state governments, government schools and the liberal media who convince them that they are victims and are “owed” something by white society, thus they become racist towards white people in general. At the same time, white people who otherwise might not have been quite so racist towards people of other colors turn racist out of self-defense or simply because they are sick of the (often false) complaints and charges against them. Worse, this side of the Second Coming of Christ, there is not all that much that we can do about it. We are all born sinners, which means that we are all born selfish, to one degree or another, and selfishness finds racism to be a convenient tool for oppressing others. Mind you, racism is not, and never has been, a one-way street, e.g., wipe out White Apartheid in South African and Black Apartheid replaces it. I do agree that the mind is the path to the heart, but not so sure that approaching racism as a simple “change of habit” is ever going to work. Some people go through drug abuse treatment time and time again without ever getting better; unfortunately, we will always have the same kind of folks who go through “racism” treatment. I applaud the effort, but be careful that you don’t get the idea that there is a cure. We can do better, but we will always have racism among us. The cure for racism lies primarily in the spiritual realm, i.e., it is a problem that first and foremost must be addressed by the Church and people of the Christian faith. It should be evident that our other social institutions have failed miserably in their efforts to defeat racism.

  6. The problem is that it is almost always too late to change someone’s mind about racism after they have reached adulthood. Many people spend their first 18 to 22 years being brainwashed by federal and state governments, government schools and the liberal media who convince them that they are victims and are “owed” something by white society, thus they become racist towards white people in general. At the same time, white people who otherwise might not have been quite so racist towards people of other colors turn racist out of self-defense or simply because they are sick of the (false) complaints and charges against them. Worse, this side of the Second Coming of Christ, there is not all that much that we can do about it. We are all born sinners, which means that we are all born selfish, to one degree or another, and selfishness finds racism to be a convenient tool for oppressing others. Mind you, racism is not, and never has been, a one-way street, e.g., wipe out White Apartheid in South African and Black Apartheid replaces it. I do agree that the mind is the path to the heart, but not so sure that approaching racism as a simple “change of habit” is ever going to work. Some people go through drug abuse treatment time and time again without ever getting better; unfortunately, we will always have the same kind of folks who go through “racism” treatment. I applaud the effort, but be careful that you don’t get the idea that there is a cure. We can do better, but we will always have racism among us.


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