Rise and Shine - June 10
How Does Implicit Bias Cloud Our Everyday Lives?
The Rise and Shine discussion group meets Sunday mornings at 9:00 am in the Parlor. Adults from the 8:00 & 10:00 services gather for discussions that are relevant to their lives through the lens of a current topic and scriptural references. This week's discussion outline can be read or downloaded below.
1 Samuel 16:7(excerpt)
[…] for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.
How does implicit bias cloud our everyday lives?
Starbucks Closes for Afternoon of Anti-Bias Training for Employees
Last Tuesday, Starbucks closed its 8,000 stores across the nation for an afternoon of anti-bias training for all its 180,000 employees. Workers were paid their wages while attending. The employees received training that focused on understanding "prejudice and the history of public accommodations in the United States." Starbucks also said future training will address "all aspects of bias and experience."
The training is in response to an incident in a Starbucks store in Philadelphia in April where a white manager called police on two black men who were seated and quietly waiting for a friend but hadn't yet purchased anything from the store. One had asked to use the restroom and had been denied. Police arrested the two for trespassing, but they were later released without charges. Both Starbucks and the police apologized.
The training sessions were designed to address "unconscious bias," also sometimes called "implicit bias." The intent was to help participants recognize their unexamined assumptions about people who are different from them.
Experts estimate the undertaking cost Starbucks more than $12 million in lost profit alone. While that is unlikely to seriously hurt the chain that posted $660 million in net income for the first quarter of 2018, not doing this undertaking could cost the company even more if it appears to harbor unfair stereotyping of people who enter its stores.
Though the sessions were not open to the media, according to a video preview provided by Starbucks, there were recorded remarks from company executives and the rapper Common, as well as a documentary on the history of civil rights. Participants then broke into small groups to discuss issues that come up in their daily work life.
Starbucks developed its curriculum for the sessions with help from the Perception Institute, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and other social advocacy groups.
Alexis McGill Johnson, Perception's executive director, said the training is about awareness. "The work that we want to do is not say you’re a bad person because you have a stereotype about a group, but say this is why your brain may have these stereotypes," she said.
Two other recent incidents also appear to have been motivated by unconscious bias. In one, an employee in a Nordstrom Rack store called police on three black teenagers who were shopping for prom clothes. And, in another, a white woman notified security about a "suspicious" black man pushing a baby in a stroller in a public park. The man was the child's father, and they were just out for a walk. (Details in article below.)
Incidents of this sort are not uncommon, though it should be acknowledged that not every one of them is an instance of bias. Some are assumed to be, while, in fact, other factors unrelated to bias account for the conflict
Materials from Tuesday's event are being made available to the public. Starbucks hopes that they will be used by other companies conducting similar trainings.
"Our hope is that these learning sessions and discussions will make a difference within and beyond our stores," Starbucks executive Rossan Williams told employees in a note last week.
More on this story can be found at these links:
Starbucks Training a First Step, Experts Say, in Facing Bias. The Washington Times
Starbucks' Racial-Bias Training Will Be Costly, but Could Pay Off in the Long Run. USA Today
How Starbucks' Bias Training Went Down. CNN Money
Starbucks and the Issue of White Space. The New Yorker
White Woman Notifies Security of Black Man Pushing His Son in a Stroller. DiversityInc
Nordstrom Rack Apologizes After Calling Police on 3 Black Teens Who Were Shopping for Prom. The Hill
Does the Implicit Association Test (IAT) Really Measure Racial Prejudice? Probably Not. Psychology Today
Here are some Bible verses to guide your discussion:
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." (For context, read 1:43-51.)
Here, Philip, whom Jesus had just called to follow him, goes to his friend Nathanael with the news that "We have found him" (meaning the Messiah) and says that it is Jesus of Nazareth. Nathanael’s reply reveals his bias against people from what he evidently thought of as a town with little to recommend it. When he met Jesus, Nathanael's bias quickly melted away and he became one of the Twelve.
Questions: Name a circumstance when you discovered you had a bias you were not at first aware of. When has meeting someone different from yourself or your group caused you to change your view of persons from another group? What was the outcome?
1 Samuel 16:7
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (for context, read 1-13)
This is part of the dialog between God and Samuel in regard to choosing a king to succeed Saul. Jesse’s son Eliab seemed to be the most natural choice to Samuel based on appearances, but instead was the one whom God “rejected.” Samuel’s first inclination to choose Eliab over the much smaller and fairer David shows implicit bias.
Questions: What is a time that you assumed someone would be good at a task based on appearances? Were you right or wrong? Have you ever experienced implicit bias against or for you due to your appearances?
My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? (for context, read 1-13)
Here, the Apostle James warns the early church about the sin of partiality – that is, giving preference to those who appear to belong to a certain social status.
Questions: How does the sin of partiality play out in the church today? In the secular world?
Prayer for the Human Family (BCP p.815)
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us
through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole
human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which
infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us;
unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and
confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in
your good time, all nations and races may serve you in
harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.