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Reflections

As an Asian American, with a White American partner, coming to terms with our own contributions to systemic racism naturally brings up discomfort that requires us to sit with & deeply process.

In order for us to make the drastic reform that is necessary within our institutions for fair & just laws/negotiations for our Black American brothers & sisters, what must go hand-in-hand is for, particularly Whites and upper class Asians, to actually take the time to get in touch with these internal feelings without labeling them wrong or entangling them with society’s feelings/judgements, and begin being the compassionate witness.

Deep inside yourself, what is it really like to feel rejected, inferior, marginalized or violated? What is it like to feel wounded, scared, or be seen as a potential criminal…daily? Can you touch these feelings with your own experiences in order to compassionaly feel? Take time with this. As you hold space for what it’s truly like to be of dark skin in our society, realize, there are people…children, in our own backyard with these weighted/exhausting feelings all the time.

When we widen our attention to the legacy of racism, where do we carry unconscious Black inferiority? Where do we reap the benefits of centuries of violation? How do we exercise our own White privilege? These questions will require our constant attention in our daily conversations.

For many Whites & Asians, responding to Black & Brown people’s pain has always been optional, whereas for Black & Brown people, responding was the only way to fight to keep their families safe/alive. But we are at a major crossroads, to either stay numb or to make this a duty of ours in which we can recognize is necessary for actual change.

It’s important for us to not take this personally as it will only cause inaction. Instead, trust in your caring and dedication. We can be responsible and accompany Black & Brown people in this endeavor of cultural & institutional reform. As Tara Brach says, “it takes intention, to take off the blinders, and wake up to the racism in us all.”

I’ve been listening to Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt’s book, called “Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do.” Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt is a professor of psychology at Stanford and a recipient of a 2014 MacArthur genius grant.

As one of the world’s leading experts on unconscious racial bias, Eberhardt takes a personal examination of one of the central controversies and culturally powerful issues of our time, and its influence on contemporary race relations and criminal justice.

I’ve learned, we do not have to be racist to be biased. With a perspective that is both scientific, investigative, and also informed by personal experience, Eberhardt offers a reasoned look into the effects of implicit racial bias.

She uncovers the interconnection of our early sensory perception development and the bias conditioning that comes with it, and also helped me understand why someone like my Japanese mom has trouble discerning the different faces of Black men. The implications to these findings can range from embarrassing to life changing.

Racial bias can lead to disparities in education, employment, housing, and the criminal justice system–and then those very disparities further reinforce the problem. In Biased, Eberhardt reveals how even when we are not aware of bias and genuinely wish to treat all people equally, ingrained stereotypes can infect our visual perception, attention, memory, and behavior.

Eberhardt’s research occurs not just in the laboratory but in police departments, courtrooms, prisons, boardrooms, and on the street. She offers practical suggestions for reform, and takes the reader behind the scenes to police departments implementing her suggestions. Refusing to shy away from the tragic consequences of prejudice, Eberhardt addresses how racial bias is not the fault of nor restricted to a few “bad apples” in police departments or other institutions. We can see evidence of bias at all levels of society in media, education, and business practices. In Biased, Eberhardt reminds us that racial bias is a human problem–one all people can play a role in solving.

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