CBA Record January-February 2020
Confronting Implicit Bias in Communities By Nina J. Fain and Sarah E. Redfield
The Big Picture I mplicit bias in communities manifests itself in many ways. In Chicago, for example, the implicit bias of police has been front and center. The most notable outcome in a series of events has been the Consent Decree involving the Chicago Police Department. In an almost reconciliation-like public hearing process, scores of citizens queued up to tell tales of abuse, intimidation, and gross unfairness they believed was based on cultural bias by the people they had hoped would protect and serve them. Chicago erupted in violence that gar- nered national attention. Yet beyond the glare of media lights, the deep harm of implicit bias festers and affects everyone in ordinary life. It is subtle and nuanced, and can leave both the doer and the recipi- ent in a spiral of urban flight, decay, and hopelessness for the future of our city’s health—a spiral that can often be unin- tended. Particularly in the current era of open hate, bigotry, and indifference, it is up to each of us to learn to recognize and interrupt such bias. Working with others engaged with this topic, we write this article about implicit bias to reach out to our Bar colleagues to support learning the basics on this subject, and to put the lessons to work. We anticipate this article will be followed be others offering more specifics and strategies, along with a series of training opportunities.
and their cumulative effects, it is hard not to ask why progress in achieving pro- portionality and equity has been so slow. Must we believe that the differences arise because each —or even most — of our teachers, our law enforcement officers, our judges, our colleagues are biased? Must we believe that each—or even most—make decisions based on their racist, sexist, *ist or *phobic ideologies? If they were, this would represent an extraordinary statement of explicit biases. But the emerging knowledge about implicit bias offers another explanation and another approach. Explicit biases are deliberately and directly generated understandings, actions, or decisions; they are inten- tional tendencies, verbally endorsed, and directly experienced as one’s own. Sometimes described as thinking slow or System I thinking, this is the kind of Join the CBA for “BeyondDiversity and Inclusion: What is Implicit Bias and Its Socioeconomic Impact on the Legal Profession” on Wednesday, Febru- ary 26, 2020, from 3:30-5:00 p.m., at Clark Hill LLC. Attendees will earn 1.5 IL PR-MCLE Credit. A networking reception immediately follows the seminar. Registration fees and infor- mation can be found at www.chica- gobar.org/cle or call 312-554-2056.
Indeed, implicit bias manifests itself in urban communities and beyond, all too often in very negative ways. As our col- league Judge Mark Bennett’s summarizes: “What aspects of today’s civil and criminal justice systems might be implicated and affected by participants’ implicit biases?”— “Everything and everybody.” As the authors of this article, we take the unusual step of addressing our readers directly. Combining a generalist’s approach (from Sarah Redfield) and that of a Chi- cagoan (Nina Fain) who has watched and lived the examples only too clearly, we trust that as we write and think and work together, change can happen. Readers are invited to reflect on their experiences and examples of implicit bias in Chicago (or beyond) and on ways they have addressed that bias or ways they think it could and should be addressed. In the coming year, we will be writing about other types of bias and people’s experi- ences. Please be in touch with us with your thoughts on this. What is Implicit Bias? What Does It Matter? Society is burdened with long-standing inequities: differences in how well, or not, our children read; differences in how our children are disciplined; differences in who is arrested and in how harshly they are sentenced; differences in employment opportunities and pay; and so many more. As we consider these disproportionalities
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