This kids' worksheet is a perfect example of how implicit bias gets perpetuated.

Stereotypes are formed and reinforced in countless ways we may not even be aware of—but we have to be aware of them.

The term "implicit bias" refers to the unconscious attitudes, beliefs, and stereotypes that affect how we think about and behave towards others. Harvard's famous implicit bias test for race evaluates how quickly you associate certain positive or negative terms with faces of different races, and the issue of bias has come up repeatedly in debates around police brutality.

Because racism, racial prejudice, and racial bias are prominent and problematic issues in society, it's vital that we all become aware of how they work—and how they can show up in seemingly innocuous places.


See exhibit A:

It's the subtle, subliminal messages that we have to watch out for. Those images that seep into our children's sub conscience and derail their confidence. Not on my watch! Not my brilliant babies!

Posted by Aqkhira S-Aungkh on Thursday, January 3, 2019

This kids' worksheet offers a perfect example of how implicit racial bias gets perpetuated.

Facebook user Aqkhira S-Aungkh shared a photo of a worksheet from a child's vocabulary workbook with four children with blank faces on it—one celebrating a birthday with the word "happy" underneath it, one with a broken balloon and the word "sad," one with a 1st prize button and the word "proud," and one with a dog eating homework and the word "angry."

The problem? The "happy" and "proud" kids are white. The "sad" and "angry" kids are brown or black.

S-Aungkh shared that she found the page in a vocabulary workbook for kindergarten and first grade kids, which had a publication date of 2009.

She wrote in a comment:

"This book was gifted to me and I was going thru it when I saw the picture the post [sic] was reaction like not this sh.. again. It will definitely be followed up with a letter, and more importantly not be used with my students. Any of my parents past and present can attest to the lengths I will go to instill a sense of pride , appreciation and knowledge of who they are and their rich ancestral history including having certain online homeschool curriculum changed because of videos they had students view that were harmful to the psyche of our children."

Ascribing the "positive" feelings to white kids and the "negative" feelings to black kids is 100% not okay. When black women are often stereotyped as being angry, this kind of representation is harmful. When white people have historically oppressed black people in America, portraying the white kids as "happy" and "proud" with a 1st prize ribbon while the black kids are suffering and experiencing sadness and anger right beside them merely perpetuates unequal historical norms.

Such racial representation reinforces white supremacy and sends kids of color negative messages about themselves—hence perpetuating implicit racial bias. Is it just coincidental that the races of kids were distributed this way? Possibly. Is it okay to let it fly because someone may not have done it on purpose? Nope.

The CEO of the publishing company responded to people's outcry over the page with a clear statement.

S-Aungkh shared the company's response on Facebook:

"It has been brought to our attention that our Homework Helpers Vocabulary Development Workbook features an occurrence of implied racism.

We are deeply apologetic that this has happened. While this was a completely unintentional error when this book was published in 2001, I want to be perfectly clear about this: the appearance of implied racism, sexism, or bias of any nature is unacceptable to me and everyone at Carson Dellosa—and it is not what we stand for.

Effective immediately, this particular title will no longer be available for sale, and our existing inventory will be destroyed. We would like to provide an equivalent, replacement workbook to any teacher or parent who currently owns this book.

As a company, we strive to publish educational materials that are inclusive. We can do better, and we are taking the proper steps, now and moving forward, to assure that mistakes like this one do not happen again. To that end, our organization is moving forward with the following initiatives to ensure that our products are of utmost quality:

- The formation of an editorial committee comprised of both internal and external resources, with expertise in diversity, to create an internal process for evaluation and identification of any implied racism, sexism, or bias of any nature.

- A process to review all currently available materials both in our warehouse and available on our digital assets with the intent to immediately dispose of/correct any unacceptable content

- An awareness program that helps ensure that we continue to create inclusive materials

- A donation to a non-profit organization that combats racism – and we welcome suggestions for organizations that you support

Sincerely,

Ira Hernowitz, CEO of Carson Dellosa Education"

Hernowitz's response acknowledges the problem, remedies the immediate issue, explains the learning process taking place, and offers specific actions the company will take to avoid repeating the same problem—including financial support for groups doing anti-racism work. Of the various corporate responses to racial bias complaints I've seen, this is one of the better ones. Let's hope they follow through and that other publishers take a page from their book.

We all have to stay aware of the messages we may be getting in our everyday lives, and especially watch for what our children may be learning without realizing it. The only way we'll slowly weed out subconscious racial bias is by recognizing examples that perpetuate it and call it out when we see it.  

lop
More
Photo by Hunters Race on Unsplash

If you're a woman and you want to be a CEO, you should probably think about changing your name to "Jeffrey" or "Michael." Or possibly even "Michael Jeffreys" or "Jeffrey Michaels."

According to Fortune, last year, more men named Jeffrey and Michael became CEOs of America's top companies than women. A whopping total of one woman became a CEO, while two men named Jeffrey took the title, and two men named Michael moved into the C-suite as well.

The "New CEO Report" for 2018, which looks at new CEOS for the 250 largest S&P 500 companies, found that 23 people were appointed to the position of CEO. Only one of those 23 people was a woman. Michelle Gass, the new CEO of Kohl's, was the lone female on the list.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Netflix

How much of what we do is influenced by what we see on TV? When it comes to risky behavior, Netflix isn't taking any chances.

After receiving a lot of heat, the streaming platform is finally removing a controversial scenedepicting teen suicide in season one of "13 Reasons Why. The decision comes two years after the show's release after statistics reveal an uptick in teen suicide.

"As we prepare to launch season three later this summer, we've been mindful about the ongoing debate around the show. So on the advice of medical experts, including Dr. Christine Moutier, Chief Medical Officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, we've decided with creator Brian Yorkey and the producers to edit the scene in which Hannah takes her own life from season one," Netflix said in a statement, per The Hollywood Reporter.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

At Trump's 'Social Media Summit' on Thursday, he bizarrely claimed Arnold Schwarzenegger had 'died' and he had witnessed said death. Wait, what?!


He didn't mean it literally - thank God. You can't be too sure! After all, he seemed to think that Frederick Douglass was still alive in February. More recently, he described a world in which the 1770s included airports. His laissez-faire approach to chronology is confusing, to say the least.

Keep Reading Show less
Democracy

Words matter. And they especially matter when we are talking about the safety and well-being of children.

While the #MeToo movement has shed light on sexual assault allegations that have long been swept under the rug, it has also brought to the forefront the language we use when discussing such cases. As a writer, I appreciate the importance of using varied wording, but it's vital we try to remain as accurate as possible in how we describe things.

There can be gray area in some topics, but some phrases being published by the media regarding sexual predation are not gray and need to be nixed completely—not only because they dilute the severity of the crime, but because they are simply inaccurate by definition.

One such phrase is "non-consensual sex with a minor." First of all, non-consensual sex is "rape" no matter who is involved. Second of all, most minors legally cannot consent to sex (the age of consent in the U.S. ranges by state from 16 to 18), so sex with a minor is almost always non-consensual by definition. Call it what it is—child rape or statutory rape, depending on circumstances—not "non-consensual sex."

Keep Reading Show less
Culture