+

In a recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association's JAMA Pediatrics, researchers found something that should make us all stop and think.

Pediatricians, it seems, might treat their young patients differently based on the color of their skin. At least that was the case for the doctors in this study when it came to the way they administered pain medication to children with appendicitis.


Image by iStock.

In short, the study concluded that black children with appendicitis were less likely to receive painkillers than white children with appendicitis, even when the doctors perceived the children's pain levels to be similar.

This wasn't a small study either. It spanned seven years — from 2003 to 2010 — and involved more than 900,000 cases of appendicitis.

So what happened? Why did so many doctors treat black children differently?

"If there is no physiological explanation for differing treatment of the same phenomena, we are left with the notion that subtle biases, implicit and explicit, conscious and unconscious, influence the clinician's judgment," Dr. Eric Fleegler and Dr. Neil Schechter of Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School explained.

We'll come back to this particular study in a minute, but in case you're thinking, “How does this affect me?!" let's get right to one of their points: bias. And more specifically, implicit bias.

There's a type of bias that almost every single one of us has, no matter how much we love all of our fellow humans, no matter how accepting we are, and no matter how hard we work to treat everyone the same: implicit bias.

People tend to shut down when we talk implicit bias as it relates to race because the immediate response is “I'm not racist!"

I hear you. I'm not racist either.

I'm so white I'm nearly translucent. My children — the people I love most in this world — are African and Asian. The sun rises and sets over them as far as I'm concerned.

My kiddos and me a few years ago.

I work hard every single day to spread anti-racist messages because I want the world to be better for my kids. My commitment to reducing racism is the reason I found my way into the job I have and love.

And still, no matter how much I love them and how hard I work, I have implicit biases. I know I do. I may not know what they are, but they're there – entrenched in the recesses of my mind after a lifetime of media messaging and personal experiences.

And guess what? You have them, too.

I reached out to Dr. Isaiah Pickens, a New York City-based licensed clinical psychologist and writer, to talk about implicit biases — what they are and, more importantly, what we can do about them.

Here's how he explained implicit bias to me:

Implicit biases are attitudes and beliefs that are skewed in a particular direction but are outside of our awareness."

He says that we can develop attitudes and beliefs that influence how we understand and interact with others as well as the decisions we make. And this happens involuntarily — totally not on purpose. We don't even know we're doing it.

Implicit biases aren't things you're aware of, which means you can unintentionally discriminate against others because of them.

Also, take this in for a minute: Our implicit biases aren't all negative. They can be both favorable and unfavorable. An example of the former could be the lifelong impression a person forms — "Asians are so smart!" — after having an Asian classmate who was a great student back in fifth grade.

Here's the crux of the issue, though, and the reason we need to care about implicit biases: We don't know we have them, and because of that, Pickens says, we "unintentionally discriminate against others."

Implicit biases don't mean we're all a bunch of racists.

We need to really understand what Pickens is saying because so many people are unwilling to acknowledge they have implicit biases for fear of being labeled a racist.

Does unintentional discrimination mean that a person is racist? No," he says. But when we fail to admit we have them, we don't do anything about them. And we we don't do anything about them, "people of color experience racism from others who may truly believe their actions are innocuous."

That last part is the whole point of talking about this. It's the human resources manager who unintentionally skips over a resume because the person has an ethnic-sounding name. It's the school administrators who care about all of their students, but unwittingly more harshly punish black students because they perceive them as older than they actually are.

Photo by iStock.

Pickens gave me another example: It's "a teacher professing to be colorblind often calling on white students … [because] the teacher doesn't want to embarrass 'other' students because he thinks they didn't do their homework."

How'd we end up with these implicit biases?

We develop implicit biases from all of the messaging we've been getting since we were old enough to absorb it — our families, society, our social networks (both in person and online), and the media. And these messages, Pickens says, are reinforced by our experiences in life.

Image by iStock.

We develop biases for honorable reasons, too: “To better navigate the world and keep ourselves and those we love safe," he explains. “If we think someone is a potential threat, then we may avoid that person or become preemptively combative to ensure that person doesn't physically harm us, take our job, or challenge our value system."

Fair enough. But here's where we unintentionally go wrong: “A couple of experiences supporting these beliefs may lead us to automatically respond with unconscious bias toward most people who appear similar to the person we think is threat," Pickens concludes.

I asked Pickens how we stop these biased thoughts. Because if we don't even know we're having them, how can we keep from having them?

It turns out that it's more about opening ourselves up to a bigger world than making an effort to stop unknowingly thinking certain things. Experiences and an open mind are the best ways to fight implicit bias.

He suggests the following useful and somewhat surprising tips:

1. Do not strive to be color-blind. Color-blindness in the context of race describes the way of viewing all people “the same" — saying we don't see skin color. That's silly, though, because every person who has sight does see skin color. “No one is color-blind," Pickens says bluntly. He says we should see differences — and celebrate them — while at the same time acknowledging that sometimes differences can lead to unfair treatment.

Most importantly, he emphasizes the cold, hard reality of insisting we're color-blind: “When we pretend that we do not see these differences, we often reinforce the implicit biases we outwardly stand against." We may be doing the very things we say we're against because we're not acknowledging our implicit biases.

2. Connect directly with people who are different in meaningful ways. The more positive interactions we have with people who look "different" than ourselves, the more we combat our implicit biases.

Photo by iStock.

Humans tend to spend their time around people who look like them, so it can feel awkward to intentionally seek out interactions, connections, and friendships outside of our circles, but we need to do it. Pickens suggests working on a shared work project with someone or attending a community gathering you might not otherwise choose to join. It's important, he explains, to begin by “admitting your limited connection with others — and subsequently, limited knowledge — then being willing to learn more."

3. Train yourself to be more mindful and aware. Focus on "others' perspectives, experiences that counter stereotypes, and our personal susceptibility to have biases outside of our awareness," Pickens says.

I also came across this tool by Harvard University to help you discover your implicit biases. It covers many areas, such as race, gender, and sexual orientation.

So what about those pediatricians who treated their patients differently based on the color of their skin?

Pickens says it's apparent to him that they're biased, but “whether implicit beliefs about race are the driving force for differential treatment is harder to decipher."

He explains that implicit biases and treating people differently occur together — but it's hard to know why. "[U]nconscious beliefs likely play a major role in differential treatment, but how and why implicit biases arise remains an area that requires further exploration," he explained to me.

So until we figure that part out, the best course of action for us is to acknowledge that we have implicit biases — even though we may not know what they are — and keep that fact in mind as we move through life. It might positively affect how we interact with and treat others every day.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

popular

Woman left at the altar by her fiance decided to 'turn the day around’ and have a wedding anyway

'I didn’t want to remember the day as complete sadness.'

via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

Keep ReadingShow less
Education

How a 3,800-year-old stone tablet helped create modern legal systems

'Innocent until proven guilty' isn't that new of a concept.

Kind of looks like the Matrix code...

The modern justice system is certainly not without its flaws, however most can agree that the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” is one that (when not abused) stands as the foundation of what fair due process looks like. This principle, it turns out, isn’t so modern at all. It can actually be traced all the way back to nearly 3,800 years ago.

historyLady Justice, the image of impartial fairness. Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

English barrister Sir William Garrow is known for coining the "innocent until proven guilty" phrase between the 18th and 19th century, after insisting that evidence be provided by accusers and thoroughly tested in court. But this notion, as radical as it seemed at the time, can, in fact, be credited to an ancient Babylonian king who ruled Mesopotamia.

During his reign from 1792 to 1750 B.C., Hammurabi left behind a legacy of accomplishments as a ruler and a diplomat. His most influential contribution was a series of 282 laws and regulations that were painstakingly compiled after he sent legal experts throughout his kingdom to gather existing laws, then adapted or eliminated them in order to create a universal system.

Those laws were inscribed on a large, seven-foot stone monument, and they were known as the Code of Hammurabi.

Keep ReadingShow less
via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


Dr. Daniel Mansfield and his team at the University of New South Wales in Australia have just made an incredible discovery. While studying a 3,700-year-old tablet from the ancient civilization of Babylon, they found evidence that the Babylonians were doing something astounding: trigonometry!

Most historians have credited the Greeks with creating the study of triangles' sides and angles, but this tablet presents indisputable evidence that the Babylonians were using the technique 1,500 years before the Greeks ever were.


Keep ReadingShow less