Flip the Script: Reducing Unconscious Race Bias

Sign in to save article
This article originally appeared on the website of our friends and colleagues at the Center for Scholars & Storytellers.

“You can’t solve a problem unless you talk about it.”  — Beverly Daniel Tatum

Unconscious biases develop during our first year of life. These biases affect how we act in ways we may not always understand or recognize. Until we start acknowledging these biases and discussing them without blame, shame, or guilt, they will persist and shape our behavior and culture.

surprising study found that black boys as young as 10 years old are seen as less innocent than white boys. Race identification, and the pride or shame associated with it, begins as early as age 4 or 5. Representation in media, especially movies and television, affects our biases as well as our own self-concepts in positive and negative ways. For example, a study of nearly 400 children found that the more TV white boys watch, the higher their self-esteem. The opposite was true for white and black girls and black boys.

"A study of nearly 400 children found that the more TV white boys watch, the higher their self-esteem. The opposite was true for white and black girls and black boys."

In fact, just watching a racist scene on video increases blood pressure, even long after the scene is over. Fortunately, storytellers can do something about this:

  1. Show characters who identify discrimination and talk about it openly.

  2. Portray positive role models from a variety of backgrounds.

  3. Show a narrative that is the opposite of what is expected (for example, black heroes and white villains), which has been shown to decrease unconscious bias by 40%.

It’s time to flip the script.

Yalda T. Uhls, Ph.D., is Founder and Executive Director of The Center for Scholars & Storytellers.

Tags: Pop Culture, BIPOC

Sign in to save article
Share

Written By

The Center for Scholars and Storytellers

The Center for Scholars & Storytellers (CSS) is an organization based at UCLA de... See Full Bio

CircleAround will make financial distributions to benefit current Girl Scouts: the next generation of trailblazers who will CircleAround after us. So CircleAround for inspiration, and CircleAround the leaders of tomorrow. CircleAround is owned by One GS Media, a subsidiary of Girl Scouts of the USA.

Love this article?

Sign up for the newsletter to get the best of CircleAround delivered right to your inbox.

Welcome
to our circle.

CircleAround will make financial distributions to benefit the next generation of trailblazers who will CircleAround after us.

So CircleAround for inspiration, and the leaders of tomorrow.

About Us