Part I – Data Collection
While it is easy to “see” explicit (overt, clear, obvious) racial bias and discrimination, it is much more difficult to ascertain our implicit (implied, hidden, unspoken) racial biases. For this activity, you will take an Implicit Association Test (IAT), which measures favorability of a racial category and measures attitudes and beliefs that people may be unwilling or unable to report (Blair et al. 2013; Newheiser and Olson 2012). Although there is a large variation of scores, many respondents report favorability towards the “white” racial category (Nosek et al. 2007). Scholars have found that implicit biases influence many aspects of daily life including pro-social behavior (Stepanikova, Triplett and Simpson 2011) and health decisions (Stepanikova 2012).
To take your test, go to the Implicit Association Test website (https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html), read the disclaimer and take one of the following tests: “Race IAT,” “Skin-tone IAT,” “Native IAT,” “Arab-Muslim IAT,” or “Weapons IAT.” If you are on a tablet or phone you can find compatible tests (https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/user/agg/blindspot/tablet.htm), but you will need to select either the “Race IAT” or the “Race-Weapons IAT.” Follow all instructions to take the IAT test. Please make sure that your desk/workspace is free of distractions as they may potentially influence the reliability of the test. If you do not take one of the listed tests, you will receive a “0.”
After you have completed the assessment it will indicate “Your Result.” For the purposes of this assignment you should WRITE DOWN THE RESULT OF YOUR TEST as you will analyze that result in your paper.
Many people will be surprised by their results on this test. Be prepared. Use this as the opportunity to truly question your implicit feelings about race. Think about how the broader culture in which you were raised has impacted these implicit feelings. This test and your reflection are not meant to identify you or others as “racist.” The explicit goal is to have you use your sociological imagination to truly consider implicit racial bias. You will not be judged for the result of your test. If you have questions or concerns about the efficacy of IAT tests or how they work, resources discussing the tests have been provided in Lesson 9.
Part II – Reflection
Once you have taken the IAT, write a 2-4-page paper (typed, double-spaced, in Times New Roman 12-point font) in which you use the sociological imagination to examine your data (i.e. your IAT results). Papers that are not at least two full pages will receive a “0.” You should draw from our course material in your paper, however as with all assignments in this course, you cannot quote material from any source in your answers; use your own words. You should upload your paper to Canvas where it will be run through the Turnitin Originality Checker.
Specific resources that discuss implicit and explicit bias, IAT tests, and institutional racism have been included in the “Module 5: Lesson 9: Race and Ethnicity” section of the course. You should use those resources to assist you in your analysis, but use your own words in your explanation. Avoid including your personal opinion in your paper. You should be making an argument based on the provided course material, not offering opinions. If you choose to take the “Arab-Muslim” test, you may also want to use resources from Module 5: Lesson 10.
Scholars have noted that our implicit biases are due to being immersed in a racialized society. Begin your paper by discussing the historical trajectory of racial oppression in the United States. What policies and institutions in the U.S. established our racial hierarchy? How did these policies and procedures benefit those who were white and disadvantage people of color? What contemporary policies (since 1980) have maintained the racial hierarchy? In other words, which have disadvantaged people of color and benefited white people (as a group)? Make sure you discuss institutional discrimination in your answer.
Next, discuss the link between this racialized society and implicit bias. Explain how implicit bias and institutional discrimination/institutional racism are linked. Implicit bias is a micro phenomenon; it happens on the individual level. However, it is influenced by our broader institutions and culture, or the macro (review the concept of context). How specifically does the micro impact the macro, and vice versa? What societal institutions (family, education, economy, religion, sports, etc.) impact our understanding of race, and how do they do so? How has implicit bias (yours and or/others’) been shaped by the broader American society? How does the social stratification system impact how we see race in our society?
Research has shown that most Americans have implicit bias and that these unconscious biases influence our daily lives (Nosek et al. 2007). After establishing the ways in which the broader society influences implicit bias, discuss your IAT results. Which test did you take? Why did you choose to take that particular test? What was your result? Were you surprised by your results? Why or why not? Be specific. How were your results similar and/or different from other web respondents? How do you identify your race? Would other people identify you in that same way? Why or why not? How do you think your self-identified race may have influenced your results on the Implicit Association Test? How might the social context in which you were raised have influenced your results? Discuss your racial history, that is, what was the racial make-up of the town/city where you grew up? Was it rural, urban, or suburban? What about your schooling? How did this context shape your understanding of race?
End your paper by brainstorming some ways in which we can help to reduce the power of our own implicit bias on an individual level. Then identify some steps we can take to reduce implicit biases and their impact on a societal and/or institutional level.
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