Talking to Teens about Implicit Bias with Dr. Aaminah Norris


Understanding Bias

Understanding Microagressions

Understanding Cultural Humility

Five Tips for Talking to Teens

Role Plays

Q and A

According to Perception Institute (2018),

explicit bias refers to the attitudes and beliefs we have about a person or group on a conscious level. Much of the time, these biases and their expression arise as the direct result of a perceived threat. When people feel threatened, they are more likely to draw group boundaries to distinguish themselves from others.

Explicit Bias plays out in schools in the form of hate speech or crimes.

According to Teaching Tolerance nearly 60 incidents of hate speech or crimes were reported in United State's schools during November 2018,

we’ve reported 59 incidents—nine more than we tracked last November. Many of them took place in classrooms, but we’re also seeing hate at school events, on campuses and athletic fields and social media. This is what we found in November:
At a Chicago-area high school, students have coped with recurring racist and anti-Semitic incidents. Early in November, racist graffiti—which included the phrase "white power”—was found on a shed near the tennis courts. The vandalism included swastikas and a racial slur used to reference a black teacher.
More racist and anti-Semitic graffiti was found days later, repeating “white power” and including threats: “All [n-words] must die,” “death to blacks[,] Muslims” and “gas the Jews." Shortly after, a picture of a swastika was airdropped to students during an assembly. All of this came in a month when a teacher was “reassigned” after admitting to using a racial slur in class, telling students that she didn’t like music with “[n-words]” in it.
  • There were 19 anti-Semitic incidents and 27 racist incidents.
  • Six incidents included a mix of racism and anti-Semitism.
  • Six incidents were anti-LGBTQ. There was one incident of Islamophobia and one of ableism.
  • At least seven acts of graffiti or vandalism displayed a mix of homophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and anti-immigrant rhetoric.
  • Incidents were reported in 24 states.

GodsiI and Jiang (2018) define implicit bias as

the automatic association of stereotypes and attitudes toward particular groups
Implicit biases are not a consequence of an individual’s chosen values; they are automatic associations that follow from stereotypes common in our culture. The fact that biases are implicit does not mean they necessarily dictate our actions, but to prevent them from doing so, we need to be aware that they are operating

According to University of Washington Researchers,

kids are learning bias from the non-verbal signals that they’re exposed to, and that this could be a mechanism for the creation of racial bias and other biases that we have in our society.

According to Common Sense Media,

kids 10 -18 believe there is racial bias in the news.

While you watch this video- consider how bias impacts us in our everyday lives and interactions?

Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.

Cultural Humility

Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less- C.S. Lewis
The ability to maintain an interpersonal stance that is other oriented (or open to the other) in relation to aspects of cultural identity that are most important to the person.- Hook, Davis, Owen, Worthington, & Utsey (2013)

Three Aspects of Cultural Humility

Lifelong commitment to self-evaluation and self-critique
Fix power imbalances.
Continue to aspire to develop partnerships with people and groups who advocate for others.-Tervalon & Murray-Garcia (1998)

While you watch this video- consider the question, "How does colorblindness undermine cultural humility?"

Five Tips for Talking to Teens About Implicit Bias

Embrace Discomfort-Bias is not a comfortable topic to broach. It is important to understand that if you can embrace the discomfort of the conversations, you and your teens will benefit. Have conversations with your teens about the difference between explicit and implicit bias. Ask them what they know about bias. Ask them to tell you what biases they have seen you and other adults in their lives exhibit. Ask them about the biases they think they have.

Critically Analyze Messages-Difference is all around us. We are inundated with messages from a variety of sources including the media we consume. Analyze the media that you consume with your teen. Notice when and how people are being stereotyped.

Make the Unconscious, Conscious-Begin to understand your own biases. Model this work for your teens. Take the implicit bias tests (implicit.harvard.edu)

Plan to disrupt your own biases-Once you and your teen have identified your biases, make specific plans to disrupt them.

Diversify Your Lives-Develop relationships with people that are different from you. In particular make connections with people and groups who advocate for others.

Healing Strategy Role Play

Think of a microagression that your teen may have experienced or witnessed. On an index card, write down the microagression.

Questions and Answers


Common Sense Media (2018), How Do I Teach My Kids About Bias in the News, News and Media Literacy Page, Retrievable from commonsensemedia.org

Godsil, R. D. & Jiang, H. Y. (2018), Prosecuting Fairly: Addressing the Challenges of Implicit Bias, Racial Anxiety, and Stereotype Threat. Retrievable from https://perception.org/publications/prosecuting-fairly-addressing-challenges-implicit-bias-racial-anxiety-stereotype-threat/

Perceptions Institute (2018), Explicit Bias, Retrievable from xhttps://perception.org/research/explicit-bias/

Pedersen, T. (2018) Kids May Learn Social Bias from Adults' Nonverbal Cues, PsychCentral, Retrievable from (https://psychcentral.com/news/2016/12/23/kids-may-learn-social-bias-from-adults-non-verbal-cues/114238.html)

Teaching Tolerance (2018), Hate at School November 2018, Retrievable from https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/hate-at-school-november-2018

Created By
Aaminah Norris


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