Friday, January 1, 2010

Double Standards and Systemic bias - What do you think?

  • Life is a mirror - What do you see?
I think I will start out with a little humor (albeit with a message) before getting into this post

Today a someone attempted to commit a robbery of a local store. The description given was "black man" driving a vehicle like mine. As a result today I was pulled over and questioned 3 times One time I was cleaning out my vehicle minding my own business an officer drove by then came back around and approached me from the rear. Then another officer came hand on gun. Sure after they spoke to me they decided I was not this person. I asked why and their explanation was that description and the words - we had to check you out to be sure.

Here is my though - with technology being in the state it is now would there not have been some sort of surveillance footage that if nothing else would have shown what that person was wearing so that a cursory visual inspection would have ruled me out. Next would be did the person have a beard and was it the same color as mine? Sure after quested and being determined it was not me the officers were polite enough but it reminded me of many bad experiences in the past and the fact that we as a society still have a long way to go.

I know there are some who are saying the officers were just doing their job - people I am not disputing that rather I am the systemic bias which exists in our society that affects how people do their job in every aspect of life. Consider these discriptions:
  • caucasian male in a blue car
  • asian male in a red car
  • hispanc male in a black car
  • etc
Now be honest - which of these pairing do you think would have resulted in the leos stopping every vehicle that matched the description?

My solutions were simple
  • Always be polite and respectful when addressing leos
  • Come home to remove myself from any further chances of exposure

Here are the thoughts that today inspired
  • We live in a society that is not equitable or fair and a bias toward ethnic minoirties exist
  • Knowing a bias exists we have a simple choice - allow this bias to affect us negatively and internalize their chortcomings causing anger or knowing this exists conducting ourselves in such a way where as much as possible it is obvious their misconception regarding me are extremely misguided

What lessons can we take from this that can be applied to business knowing there is a bias:
  • Always conduct yourself with dignity
  • Always work to give your best
  • People will assume the worst of you - do not allow their expectation s of you to define you
  • Listen critically to what people are saying them work to remove their excuses
  • Let your actions speak for you
  • Keep i mind no one is any better or smarter than you so conduct yourself as their equal and treat them with the dignity you expect from them
  • Anyone can react and allow others to define their actions, it take a mature person to excercise self control and not allow others to control or define them
  • Remember bias and prejudice as much as people and society try to mask its are nothing more than projected self hatred and fear - people trying to push and deny their own shortcomings and issues by blaming you because you can only dislike or hate another when that hatred has taken root in yourself - so you cannot give what you do now already have or own.
Most of you know know me already know my thoughts on the myths of race and its design as a control system to create arbitrary separation where none exists to distract people from focusing on the real issues of importance - but that is a topic for another time.

I will post these as a closing thought

I did some serious but as I started ended using humor (with a point) and then with some serious food for thought!
  • What do you think?
  • What would you do?
  • Have you by your action or inaction perpetuated this?

Here is my closing point:
  • People's opinions of you are like any other gift (ties at Christmas, the strange sweater, etc) - you can choose to accept it and make it your or you can decline it and say no thank you!

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