A campaign launched last week is challenging media professionals to take the Implicit Association test (IAT) and share their results with their audiences via social media.
The “Check Your Bias” initiative aims to shift public discourse away from the current “colorblind” narrative and move the United States to a more honest take on race by: challenging people to examine their own biases and learn how their biases hurt others;working with media organizations to incorporate implicit bias testing and training into their policies and introduce practices that improve the quality and quantity of reporting on race; and encouraging people of color to create their own media and tell their own stories to challenge negative mainstream images.
“Check Your Bias” was created by Active Voices, an organization formed last summer to shift cultural attitudes about race and racism.
The goal is to get people to sign the pledge at www.checkyourbias.com and formally commit to ‘checking’ their bias by doing four things: (1) taking the race IAT; (2) publicly reflecting on the experience via social media; (3) educating themselves about racial biases, and (4) encouraging their social networks to do the same.
Active Voices is aiming to get 100,000 people to ‘check’ their bias by the end of 2016.
“What our country needs now more than anything is a productive conversation on race,” says Active Voices co-founder Erika Maye. “But it’s impossible because many people deny racism even exists, or they think it’s limited to the indefensible actions of a handful of individual bad actors. By getting people to uncover their own hidden biases, we hope to help them realize that racial biases are pervasive, and they are much more about impact than intent.”
Data from Project Implicit, the creators of the race IAT, shows that while only 20 percent report themselves as racially biased going in, approximately 75 percent of the two million people who have taken the test show an automatic preference for White people over Black people. This includes approximately 4 in 10 Black people and almost 9 in 10 Whites.
Over 70 percent of all millennials think that never considering race would improve society, according to additional data provided on checkyourbias.com
Research has found that simply being aware of one’s racial bias is the first major step toward reducing it. One study suggests the process of de-biasing is comparable to that of breaking a bad habit. The group says it is initially focusing on media because of their special influence over public attitudes and behaviors.
“As an institution, media plays a significant role in creating biases and in reaffirming them over and over again,” Maye explains. “As our national conversation centers on race and race relations, it’s time for media to take their responsibilities as purveyors of public information and their ethical obligations to fair, accurate and impartial reporting more seriously, and take the necessary measures to mitigate racial bias in their coverage.”