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.  

True

Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less

Eight months into the pandemic, you'd think people would have the basics figured out. Sure, there was some confusion in the beginning as to whether or not masks were going to help, but that was months ago (which might as well be years in pandemic time). Plenty of studies have shown that face masks are an effective way to limit the spread of the virus and public health officials say universal masking is one of the keys to being able to safely resume some normal activities.

Normal activities include things like getting a coffee at Starbucks, but a viral video of a barista's encounter with an anti-masker shows why the U.S. will likely be living in the worst of both worlds—massive spread and economic woe—for the foreseeable future.

Alex Beckom works at a Starbucks in Santee, California and shared a video taken after a woman pulled down her "Trump 2020" mask to ask the 19-year-old barista a question, pulled it back up when the barista asked her to, then pulled it down again.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Pete Buttigieg is having a moment. The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana keeps trending on social media for his incredibly eloquent explanations of issues—so much so that L.A. Times columnist Mary McNamara has dubbed him "Slayer Pete," who excels in "the five-minute, remote-feed evisceration." From his old-but-newly-viral explanation of late-term abortion to his calm calling out of Mike Pence's hypocrisy, Buttigieg is making a name for himself as Biden's "secret weapon" and "rhetorical assassin."

And now he's done it again, this time taking on the 'originalist' view of the Constitution.

Constitutional originalists contend that the original meaning of the words the drafters of the Constitution used and their intention at the time they wrote it are what should guide interpretation of the law. On the flip side are people who see the Constitution as a living document, meant to adapt to the times. These are certainly not the only two interpretive options and there is much debate to be had as to the merits of various approaches, but since SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett is an originalist, that view is currently part of the public discourse.

Buttigieg explained the problem with originalism in a segment on MSNBC, speaking from what McNamara jokingly called his "irritatingly immaculate kitchen." And in his usual fashion, he totally nails it. After explaining that he sees "a pathway to judicial activism cloaked in judicial humility" in Coney Barrett's descriptions of herself, he followed up with:

Keep Reading Show less

When you picture a ballerina, you may not picture someone who looks like Lizzy Howell. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't.

Howell is busting stereotypes and challenging people's ideas of what a dancer should look like just by being herself and doing her thing in her own body. The now-19-year-old from Delaware has been dancing since she was five and has performed in venues around the world, including Eurovision 2019. She has won scholarships and trains up to four hours a day to perfect her skills in various styles of dance.

Jordan Matter Photography shared a documentary video about Howell on Facebook—part of his "Unstoppable" series—that has inspired thousands. In it, we get to see Howell's impressive moves and clear love of the art form. Howell shares parts of her life story, including the loss of her mother in a car accident when she was little and how she was raised by a supportive aunt who helped her pursue her dance ambitions. She also explained how she's had to deal with hate comments and bullying from people who judge her based on her appearance.

"I don't think it's right for people to judge off of one thing," Howell says in the video. And she's right—her size is just one thing.

Keep Reading Show less