There are simple questions to ask yourself to check your unconscious bias and prejudices, but they are difficult and uncomfortable to answer.
- How are you unlearning?
- How are you checking your prejudices?
- What are you working on unlearning now?
The truth is as ‘woke’ as we believe ourselves to be, there is never a time we are not unlearning. We all are flawed, and we all hold prejudices.
We live in a world that has consistently tried to classify people. This comes naturally to us, we put people into boxes based on their race, class, religion, color, and ethnicity.
we often view our differences more than our similarities. Forgetting that we are all human in the end and experience many of the same emotions, traumas, and insecurities.
It’s hard to look past the outward appearance and try to dig deeper into finding those similarities especially when others look different than us.
I have traveled the world and meet people completely different than me, but the truth is even I have to check myself. Human nature is drawn to make distinctions, which is why I believe it’s a choice every day we have to make in changing our perspective. We can look at someone and notice the differences or we can choose to look for the similarities we all have.
Today, I was driving to my train station and stuck behind a school bus. My first instinct was to be angry because this stupid school bus was gonna make me late to work. I took a deep breath and reminded myself to be mindful. There wasn’t much more I could do at that moment but wait.
I live in Rockland County, there is a crude joke that only those from here would understand, “what is the quickest way from Israel to Africa?” The punch line: “route 59”. You see this county is home to many ethnic groups, however, it’s not necessarily one of those places everyone lives side by side. More like the other side of with towns that has majority populations of one ethnic or racial group. So on my drive to the train, I pass through towns that are distinctly mainly orthodox Jewish, Latino, Black, and then the train station is in the “whiter” more affluent neighborhood.
As I watched the kids get on the bus, I realized how quick I am to other these groups I am by. How I often don’t venture into my town outside of my community which consists Latino and white. How quick I am to other because of how different the orthodox Jewish and black community is to myself and each other, yet I watched the kids get on the bus and the mothers wave goodbye and kids giggle and run in the same way. I was reminded there of my childhood and brought to growing up in queens waving goodbye to my mom.
This moment reminded me how important it is to constantly check ourselves, to continuously make an effort to not fall into the trap of othering. And it reminded me of something I truly believe in, that at the end of the day we’re more similar than different. It reminded me that we all undergo same emotions.
It reminded me that we were all children once with the hopes and dreams and just became products of our environments and the less we were exposed to those that were different than us the more we solidified those prejudices we learned.
What can combat all this? Discussions, I believe is one of the best ways to overcome and unlearn. Having these conversations that at times may be uncomfortable that are honest and raw. We cannot pretend that as people that attempt to be socially conscious and strive for must just societies that we are perfect.
Admitting that we once had these prejudices and have/ are trying to overcome them is crucial to one’s growth but also to let others know that there is a path forward and that we are all unlearning.
So have you reflected on your own life to answer the 3 questions I asked yourself?