If you had asked me a day or two ago, I would have said “No, I am not prejudiced, nor do I have any biases.” But I discovered that is not true.
The specifics of the situation are not particularly important…except that I was being introduced to someone who was a manager. There were two individuals present, and as the manager was introduced by name, I looked to one specific person. It did not take very long in the conversation, however, for me to realize that I had made a mistake.
It was an easily corrected mistake–and I don’t think it was a noticeable one.
I didn’t even think anything about it until later that evening…when I got to looking back and realized that of the two individuals who were there, I had immediately (and unconsciously) assumed the Caucasian individual as the manager…even though the African-American individual had responded to the introductions.
I was shocked at myself…and surprised at how easy it was to make an unwarranted assumption.
And it reminds me that I (and all of us) would do well to pay attention to our responses. Unconscious biases are present in each of us. They are not necessarily bad–but they can cause us to act in ways that have the potential of building walls rather than bringing us together.
While I was saddened to recognize that in myself, I am also glad that I was able to recognize it…because it’s only in the recognition of it that I can also have the ability to change it.