In the article, we explore what unconscious bias is, how it’s formed and the role it plays in forming racist hate, with a lens to explore specifically Asian hate. There are 10 ways you can train your brain to unlearn some of the negative stereotypes you’ve learnt from the world around you.
These tools will help you evaluate the messaging around you and hopefully empower you to make more informed decisions.
If you haven’t already read our introduction to racist unconscious bias, we definitely recommend checking it out as your starting point.
1. Be informed
Just knowing about unconscious bias and the brain science that underpins it is incredibly useful in building a critical understanding of how some of your opinions and stereotypes are constructed.
2. Think about where you get your information from
Sit down and start to think about the media you consume and your sources of information. Think about the messaging you receive and the degree of influence each outlet has on you. Commit to scanning the future content you consume for potential bias-forming language. For example, in the context of Asian hate, here are some genuine news headlines that clearly build a negative stereotype and perception of Asian communities:
3. Balance out your thoughts
See your judgements of others like a see-saw: one side is a negative thought and the other side is a positive thought. Whenever you catch yourself making a negative judgement of another person, or group of people, counteract it with a positive one. Do this and you will gradually find that your empathy grows as your negative biases are challenged.
4. Call it out
If you witness racism and don’t call it out, you are complicit. We all have a responsibility to call out any forms of hate whenever we witness it, provided that it is safe to do so. If an older family member says something racist, for example, you are completely within your rights to call them out on it. Challenge their way of thinking and don’t be afraid to point out that it is harmful. If you see harmful content on social media, remember that you can report it directly to Ditch the Label for it to be removed. If you see harmful news stories or media that plant negative stereotypes, you can report it to OFCOM. We all have a role to play when it comes to tackling the issue of racism and Asian hate.
5. Educate others
It’s a fact that the more you talk about a particular issue, the more likely it is to be stored in your long-term memory and the more habit-forming it will be. Start talking about unconscious bias with the people around you; not just to reinforce what you’ve learnt, but to encourage others to learn and challenge their own biases too.
6. Surround yourself with people who are different
This is vitally important and a great way to actively unlearn negative stereotypes. Our own lived experiences rank as more influential than media headlines, which is why it is valuable and important to have a rich diversity of people around you. You will find that your mind will open up and your life will be so much more enriched as your social circle grows.
7. Seek out role models
If you have recognised that you have a dislike towards a group of people, know that this acknowledgement is an incredibly brave and difficult one. To counteract this bias, it is important to seek out role models who are part of that community and to learn about them, their stories and their experiences. Learn as much as you can about them and their culture and be prepared to go in with an open mind and a desire to unlearn harmful beliefs.
8. Don’t forget your empathy and privilege
Take the time out to build empathy towards a person, or group, who are subjected to harmful stereotypes. How would you feel in their position? What must it feel like to walk a day in their shoes? Do you think the world feels scary to them at the moment? What can you do, as a bystander or perpetrator to make their experience a little easier?
9. Reframe difference
Imagine a world where we all look, act, talk and move in the exact same way. We all like the same thing, we all want the same career pathway, literally everybody is the exact same. Could you imagine how boring that would be? Difference is often talked about as being a negative thing, but it really is the glue that makes this planet we call home so rich and interesting. Instead of seeing difference as a negative, it should be celebrated.
10. Finally, don’t stop learning
Working on your own unconscious bias is never-ending because it is constantly forming and evolving. See this as the beginning of your journey to becoming way more informed and critical of the world around you. If you’re interested in learning more, there are tons of great videos on YouTube and a whole world of amazing books, inspirational people and amazing stories.
Visit our #StopAsianHate hub to learn more:
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This article is part of our #StopAsianHate series in partnership with ASOS. Visit our hub for more info, tools, tips and ways to take a stand against Asian hate.