“What can we do about bias? A lot.”
That’s the mission of a new Smithsonian exhibit at the Downtown Huntsville Public Library now through May 21.
Whether we realize it or not, bias is something that affects each of us every single day.
Biases you may not consider in your day-to-day life can include anything from a confirmation or status quo bias to the horns effect, which is the automatic response of disliking someone based on a single trait or experience.
The traveling exhibition, hosted by the City’s Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion with the support of the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library and Meta, aims to help us examine our own bias to become more well-rounded citizens and create an inclusive world.
The first of its kind
Huntsville is the first Alabama city to host “The Bias Inside Us.”
Drawing from research and educational work by Harvard psychologist Mahzarin R. Banaji and University of Washington professor emeritus Anthony G. Greenwald, the free exhibition invites visitors to participate in self-guided tours exploring the foundation of bias, how it forms and how it comes across in everyday life – both consciously and unconsciously.
Through “The Bias Inside Us,” visitors can see interactive displays that show how bias is prevalent in our world and how it has influenced policy and systems.
Those displays include a 20-question quick quiz on how we view stereotypes, a glowing brain to showcase the different parts of our mind and video messages with personal stories of those affected by biases.
What is implicit bias?
Project Implicit defines implicit bias as “an automatic reaction we have towards other people… [that] can negatively impact our understanding, actions and decision-making.”
Those beliefs, whether held consciously or not, guide our decision-making every single day. It can even include stereotypes about a person’s race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality and more.
Those biases can cause us to discriminate in our everyday lives without us even being aware of it. But by recognizing and understanding our biases, we can identify areas of personal growth and begin improving on them.
Transforming our outlook
According to a study from Maryville University, bias is a part of being human and affects our behavior both positively and negatively.
The study suggests setting aside time for introspection, slowing down before making conclusions about others based on stereotypes and institutionalizing fairness for a more diverse workforce.
“The Bias Inside Us” offers us a chance to contemplate all these things, transform our minds and create a more welcoming community in Huntsville.
The exhibition will also include special programming, book lists and other resources to enrich the viewing experience. Learn more about “The Bias Inside Us” on the library’s website.