IMPLICIT BIAS: How do We Change?

Implicit: implied though not plainly expressed. Bias: prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.

ANYONE who reads this has attitudes towards people or associates stereotypes with them without our conscious knowledge.  Harsh?  Uncomfortable? Ok, but no one arrives at a certain point in their lives without this common behavior we all share.  It’s part of our social cognition that occurs because of the brain’s natural tendency to look for patterns and associations in the world.  And before you go, “Whoa, wait a minute…not me”, NONE of us (including this writer) are free from implicit bias here or anywhere else in the world. It’s a pattern that has been created for millennia – and sadly, will continue.

Sounds hopeless, right?  So, is there any possibility we can change?  Recognizing that implicit bias is insidious yet entrenched in our society and language is only one small step.  But nothing changes if we don’t find and take that path to change.

So, what can we do to change our implicit biases?   We can start by examining the language we use, for example, describing something in absolute terms: literally, black, and white.  Neither are absolute, yet this clouds our cognitive awareness when we use these nouns.  What other words could we use?  What else can we do?

We can elect people who recognize this change is necessary in not only how we personally act and react, but at every level of government. A race-informed city fosters a supportive environment for collective, community-wide racial healing and systemic, structural equity. Rooted in an understanding that government at all levels has played a role in creating and maintaining racial inequity, resulting in a lack of access and opportunity for people of color in everything from education and employment to housing and healthcare, race-informed cites seek to redress structural racism through an analysis of their own operations and make necessary changes in policy and practice.

Even though Texas ranks at the bottom in the country for healthcare and education, three of Texas’s cities have ranked highest in investing in and building the many things that make communities good places for people to not only live and work, but to thrive in an inclusive environment:  Dallas, El Paso, and San Antonio. 

We must continue to examine how these dynamically planned, designed, and managed city structures contribute to not only shape urban life and culture for the benefit of all, but also re-shape attitudes, behaviors, and communities for better outcomes.

What Defines A “Living” City on the Move?

  • Broadly Partnered: Partnering with allied parties — public, private and philanthropic — as demands for services, revitalization and social justice grow
  • Resident-Involved: Listening to diverse voices in the community to meaningfully engage residents in problem-solving conversations
  • Race-Informed: Bringing a racial equity lens to vital community discussions about solving problems and building preferred futures
  • Smartly Resourced: Prioritizing how resources are raised and allocated to support evidence-based investments in infrastructure, technology and people
  • Employee-Engaged: Doing the public’s work — from the front lines to the back office — in ways that tap employees’ creativity, expertise and spirit of service
  • Data-Driven: Seeing around corners and evaluating program performance and policy needs through analysis of the numbers

New Braunfels and Comal County communities can be a better equipped community to do what needs to be done for the public good; we must be resilient and band together.  Yet, this all  starts with electing those who will effect change and the kind of policies that will start to unravel archaic social structures and biases, and in equipping our city for whatever comes next.  

It’s not due to a federal mandate or a foundation grant or some other financial windfall, but because the people of government — elected and appointed leaders, line of business managers and frontline workers — and the community they serve, understand it’s the right thing to do.

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