Foothill Christian School Blog

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Bias, Bigotry, Bullying

Written by Ebenezer Puplampu, HR Practitioner and Adjunct Professor of Industrial and Organizational Psychology


‘Bias’ is one word nobody likes to be associated with because it typically carries a negative connotation. One of my favorite things to do when I interact with people regarding the subject of ‘bias’ is to ask whether bias is a bad thing? I almost always get the ‘duh’ reaction – as if to say everybody knows that bias is a bad thing. Really? Is bias a bad thing? To answer that question, we will need to first understand a few basic stuff like, what bias really is, where it comes from and who can be biased?

To begin with, bias is basically the expression of our preferences. In other words, every time we choose to drink coffee and not tea, decide to eat carnitas and not chicken or wear shorts and not trousers, we are expressing our bias. Experts who study human behavior say that we develop bias and preference from a combination of our biology, how we are brought up and socialized, and the experiences we have in life. So for example, we all know people who do not eat anything that contains dairy products because they are lactose intolerant. As a result, they will prefer almond milk with their coffee instead of dairy cream. There are others who just do not like the way dairy milk tastes and so would prefer coconut milk because that’s what they grew up drinking.

From the few examples above of how we express our biases/preferences, we can see that bias is as much a part of our life as the air we breathe. That just means that every human being who thinks and makes choices has and expresses bias. It is important to also note at this point that, not all bias is visible. Some biases are hidden, in that we are not aware they exist in us – but they do. These hidden biases are those that reside in our subconscious as a result of accumulated experiences we have had in our lives, and they influence, shape and inform our behavior and decisions on a daily basis. Have you ever wondered why you will always choose to sit with someone you know over a total a stranger, or opt to ask for directions from a woman and not a man? The explanation may be in the influence that hidden biases have on us. So as you can see, biases are a regular part of our everyday lives, and in and of themselves, they are normal and good, because, without them, we could not function.

However, like any good thing, bias can go bad. The million dollar question then is, how can such a good and normal thing like bias, without which we cannot function as human beings, become a bad thing? The examples we have discussed so far are about our bias regards things like coffee, tea, shorts, trousers etc. None of this stuff has feelings, so when we prefer tea over coffee, coffee does not become sad. Bias, however, becomes dangerous when it turns into prejudice – that is when, based on our experiences, upbringing etc., we make preconceived judgements and conclusions about a person or a group of individuals that negatively affects their well-being. Prejudice, which essentially is “bias gone wrong”, can also be visible or hidden, and always has a negative impact – on the one who is prejudiced, those towards whom the prejudice is directed and society as a whole. The effect can range from hurting people’s emotions and feelings to actually endangering their very existence.

When prejudice is not checked, it can degenerate into bigotry, which is a stronger form of prejudice and is often accompanied by a severe mindset that produces discriminatory behavior like bullying. So any human being, actually, has the potential to become a bigot or a bully, because all it takes, is to let our biases become prejudice and leave them unchecked. It will quickly go south from there, and once on that slippery slope, it will degenerate quickly.

I have heard people ask several times, why bias goes wrong? The answer lies in the core of our nature. Human beings by nature are selfish and self-centered. That is why even as babies, we demonstrate our selfishness by refusing to share our toys. It is something which is part of our nature. So unless our upbringing/socialization/education is directed towards teaching us to love and care for others, we can degenerate fast, and even more quickly when those things feed our negative prejudices. By love and care, I am not referring to that which emanates from our natural self. We already made the point above that by nature, all human beings are selfish, and so we are incapable of producing love and care that is devoid of selfishness. It, therefore, takes the love of Jesus to reorient our selfish nature and enable us to truly love and care for others. This love and care that emanates from the Gospel is our only hope for both loving and caring for ourselves in the here and now as well as for the hereafter.

So my friends, next time you think of what a bigot or a bully could look like, look in the mirror. Because we all have biases and we are all at risk of becoming prejudiced, and unchecked prejudice is all it takes to become a bigot and a bully. Love, the love that originates from Jesus, is the answer.

Do you have that love?


Come experience an immersive art exhibit that conveys this message of love through seven unique installations. October 26 & 27, 6:00 – 9:00 PM, open to the public! To learn more visit:

www.oneschoolsresponse.com.

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This entry was posted on October 2, 2017 by in Current News, Parenting Resources and tagged , , , , , , .

Art Exhibit

Bias. Bigotry. Bullying.January 26th, 2020
Come visit the One School's Response art exhibit hosted at Western Christian High School. Final Weekend is Jan 24-26, 2020... open to the public! Visit oneschoolsresponse.com for more details.

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The change starts with us. In our hearts first, then our homes, then our school, then our community... we commit to listening, learning, and trusting in an Almighty Creator who designed every person in His image and is capable of changing the biases in our hearts. We, as Christians, must do better. @oneschoolsresponse
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Imago Dei is the Latin sentiment for the “Image of God.” The idea that mankind has been made in the image and likeness of God is rooted in Old and New Testament teachings. This position proclaims that humankind possesses certain qualities, characteristics, or endowments that mirror His nature and character. Considered the “crown of creation”, people are fundamentally different than all other creation, clearly existing for a higher purpose. Many would insist that humans are most like God when it comes to their unique relational qualities, meaning it is man’s ability to engage in complex interpersonal relationships that best reflects the divine. • Yet, our human nature tends to assign negative meaning to circumstances and/or things we do not understand. Unfamiliar cultures, different customs, or unexplained actions are filtered through this bias where our self-centered point of view is presumed correct and superior, leading us to assume the worst of others. • Re-claiming the Imago Dei resets our default position to a more gracious, understanding posture. So “beautifully and wonderfully made” leaves no room for groundless contempt toward others. To the contrary, if Imago Dei was accurately perceived we would be awe-struck, tempted to worship. Therefore, being formed in the image of Christ we are empowered to live deeply in community and ultimately enabled to fulfill the two greatest commandments…love God with all your heart, soul and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself. #loveyourneighborasyourself #imagodei #asinheaven #georgefloyd
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