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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.  

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


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As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

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Pop Culture

'90s kids share movies that will 'take you back to a better time'

It was a magical time when animals played sports and yet somehow things were just simpler.

YouTube/Upworthy photo illustration

Honey, I shrunk the kid named Matilda while jamming in space!

Everyone knows that '90s movies just hit different. From sports movies to rom-coms to even horror, there was an undeniable innocence, without being overly simplistic or juvenile. They didn’t have nearly the amount of money going into production as they do today, but somehow managed to transport us to magical places.

Movies of the '90s are so iconic that there have been several attempts to reboot beloved titles. Which, let’s face it, tends to be a fool's errand at a cash grab. These movies are so timeless that simply viewing the original is more than fine.

Not sure which movie to start with? You’re in luck—a Reddit user by the name of YouBrokeMyTV asked ’90s kids to share movies that took them “back to a better time,” and because the internet can be a wonderful place, tons of people responded with some beloved classics.

These answers certainly don’t make a definitive list (there are just so, so many gems) but they're a fun glimpse into what made '90s cinema so special. A nostalgic romp through memory lane, if you will.

Enjoy these 14 titles that just might leave you jonesing for a rewatch:

1. "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"

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A perfect example of how '90s movies were silly, but smart at the same time. And oh so wholesome.

2. "The Sandlot"

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It taught us nothing about baseball, but everything about friendship, rooting for the underdog and (most important) how to make s’mores.

3. "Drop Dead Fred"

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Critics might have run this cult classic through the mud during its inception, but audiences fell in love with the bizarre charm of this story about a mischievous little girl and her anarchist imaginary friend. So take that, snotfaces!

4. "The Goonies"

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Everyone just wanted to set off an epic quest with their friends for pirate treasure after seeing this movie.

5. Tim Burton's "Batman"

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Before the superhero genre was the behemoth it is today, a quirky director and the dude who was best known for playing the creepy demon in "Beetlejuice" breathed new life into comic-book movies. Marvel might be the leader on creating stories with adult themes that are digestible for kids nowadays, but this DC film was the first of its kind. Plus, that soundtrack … forget about it.

6. "Hook"

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Pretty much any '90s film starring Robin Williams was an absolute gem, but this one in particular is timeless. His gift of balancing childlike humor with emotional gravitas lent itself so well to playing the now grown and cynical Peter Pan, who must learn to reclaim his joy (relatable, millennials?). It was a bang-a-rang-er, no question.

7. "Space Jam"

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It had Looney Tunes, it had aliens and it had Michael Jordan. That’s a winning combination.

8. "Matilda"

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I don’t think I’m out of line when I say that this movie helped a lot of kids make their way through difficult childhoods.

9. "The Parent Trap"

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Even '90s reboots were awesome. And how fun it is to see that Lisa Ann Walker—the actress who played Chessy the housekeeper—is not only yet again gracing the screens in NBC’s “Abbott Elementary,” but is also being revered as a style icon on TikTok for her ultra casual looks in the film. We all knew she was onto something with long button downs and shorts.

10. "The Land Before Time"

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No cartoon, not even “The Lion King,” was a better depiction of childhood grief. And yet, despite encapsulating tragedy, director Don Bluth still left viewers hopeful. The subsequent 14 (yes 14) sequels definitely pale in comparison to the original, but "The Land Before Time" continues to stand the test of time nonetheless.

11. "Richie Rich"

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The scene where they play tag on four-wheelers is simply iconic.

12. "Dunston Checks In"

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Man, the '90s were the golden age of animal-centered films. And not just monkeys either—we got sports playing golden retrievers and not one, but two movies starring talking pigs. What a time to be alive. These films were made before CGI had reached the levels it’s at today, and the authentic interactions between humans and creatures reached right through the screen.

13. "George of the Jungle"
george of the jungle, brendan faser

Watch out for the tree!!!

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Have I seen this movie at least 20 times? Probably. It doesn’t get any better than this in terms of silly action films with bird puppets. It’s crazy to think that this role would eventually lead Brendan Fraser to "The Mummy" franchise, turning him into a household name. Though his career has had some tragic ups and downs, we are all grateful for the glorious comeback he’s been having.

14. Anything involving Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
mary kate and ashley

Yes, they were professional detectives.

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Whether vacationing in London, Paris or Rome, whether playing magical witches or making a huge billboard so their father could find love … Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen offered zany, whimsical entertainment while wearing fun outfits. Sometimes, that’s all you need.