What About Accidental Bigots

Wait! What About Accidental Bigots?

Good point. We need to talk about accidental bigots. 

We all have what’s called implicit social cognitions. We can’t help it, it’s part of enculturation. Holding assumptions (that can be wrong or right) about certain things is a -normal- part of enculturation. We hold biased views about all kinds of things: from how pleasant a trip might be on a train vs a bus, to how “kind” or “mean” someone is going to be based on their clothes. These kinds of cognitions help with categorizing and making sense of life. A subset of these assumptions are called implicit biases.

The term implicit bias is about negative biases we pick up along the way, often not at all consciously, regarding various groups of people. In cultures where artificial social hierarchies are so prevalent, we are all likely to develop some implicit biases about groups of people and social hierarchies. It can take a good deal of work to recognize these and stop accepting them as “true” or “the only way things can be.”

So, all this to say, we are all likely to be accidental bigots sometimes, in some ways- and quite possibly especially if we have many points of privilege.  No matter how committed we are to social justice and peace, we all screw up sometimes. 

We are all human, we’ve all made poor choices in judgement about a wide variety of things (from how big of a portion of pasta we should take, to which people we should seriously consider for spouses, to picking the wrong shade of paint for our walls). 

We have all made errors in judgement and said or done tactless things that we later realize were…umm, not cool towards others. Feminist men have talked over women without realizing it. White people wanting to be allies have discounted POC without realizing it. Able bodied people have made ableist remarks without meaning to.The list goes on and on. I have compassion for us.

And so do other folks. Generally, those targeted have been incredibly patient and given people the benefit of the doubt a million bazillion times. BECAUSE WE DO BELIEVE IN TREATING EACH OTHER WITH COMPASSION. We’ve been accommodating, and engaging in good faith.

But we NEED different strategies for those who have made themselves unable and/or unwilling to engage in good faith.