Continuing with the thread of implicit bias, today’s post reflects on two videos that speak specifically to how unconscious bias affects millennials. The first video, a segment from PBS NewsHour’s “Race Today” series, explores how millennials see themselves and their peers on issues of race and inclusion. PBS correspondent Hari Sreenivasan also shares his experience taking the Harvard’s Implicit Association Test (IAT), an assessment tool used to identify unconscious thoughts and assumptions.
Some of the research discussed in this segment states that, although they may be more diverse and accepting than their parents’ generation, millennials are still susceptible to the same prejudices their parents hold. When we understand that implicit biases often develop during our formative childhood years, it makes sense that millennials would have “inherited” some of their assumptions from their parents without even knowing it. As a result, there’s an incongruence between many of their expressed beliefs (what they say they believe) and their implicit beliefs (what their actions show they believe). The video cites an interesting study of online dating profiles as an example of this dichotomy.
The second video, a short interview produced by The WNET Group, is the story of Eric, a young Mexican American who felt like a man with no country. He shares his struggle of growing up in both the United States and Mexico, and how the implicit bias of his peers made him feel like he didn’t fit in either place.
So what does this all mean? Despite increased exposure to social justice issues, as well as increased opportunities for social activism due to social media, millennials are not immune to the influence of implicit biases. We all carry the responsibility to identify and address those prejudices and assumptions that influence our behavior. Although you won’t see many viral videos of people introspectively assessing their own biases, authentic social activism has to start with our own self-awareness. Otherwise, our efforts will lack the conviction to effect any long-lasting change in the world around us.