• Parenting

BLOG: What is implicit bias?

Dr. Danniella Jones, Psychologist, Palm Beach County Youth Services Department

Talking about race and racism is hard. But in today’s world, it’s more important than ever to have these conversations with our children. In a special blog series, Dr. Danniella Jones, a psychologist with the Palm Beach County Youth Services Department, helps parents navigate these difficult topics.

Please keep in mind that while the following blogs outline a few places to start when discussing race and racism with children, the journey to becoming anti-racist and raising anti-racist children is one that requires continuous and active self-reflection, education, vulnerability, and determination.

Question: I've heard people talk about implicit bias, but I'm not racist. So what does this mean?

Answer: We are bombarded with tons of images, sounds, and other sources of information every second of every day. It is impossible for us to consciously sort through and make decisions with all of that information! Thus, our brains have developed a tendency to take short cuts based on pairings known as implicit bias. For example, if we come across a snake, many of us would automatically react with fear (although the vast majority of snakes are completely harmless to humans). This happens because snakes are often paired with DANGER and we quickly, without much thought, associate a snake with feeling unsafe. 

In the same way, we are constantly exposed to images and messages from our families, peers, communities, and the media that pair Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) with negative stereotypes such as being criminal, lazy or unintelligent. While not always intentional, the impact of these automatic reactions causes harm to People of Color. Instead of thinking about whether you are racist or not, it may be more helpful to start by reflecting on some of the racist messages you have absorbed and how you can begin to challenge those pairings in order to better support Black and Brown people.

More Answers from Dr. Jones

BLOG: Some helpful definitions in understanding race and racism
BLOG: Why can't I say, 'I don't see color?
BLOG: Should I talk about race and racism with my children?
BLOG: How do I start talking to my young child about race and racism?
BLOG: How can I expand my child's worldview?
BLOG: Expert tips for talking with children about race and racism

Dr. Danniella Jones is a psychologist with the Palm Beach County Youth Services Department.