- “These days, we frequently hear that most people that have unconscious bias they think they don’t discriminate, but in real life they actually do. The laPiere study supports the opposite idea. People are more hostile to others in the abstract than when they meet them in person. As a rule, theretial discrimnais, when they come face-to-face with an actual person, actually don’t discriminate. Is much easier to dehumanize the “other” when you don’t see a human face, when someone is reduced a demographic identity. When you meet actual people and learn a little of their human story, you feel connection–and connection destroys dicrimination.” (chapter 5)
I chose Brooks’s section on human connection as a disturbance to instutional discrimination because it flipped my preconceived notions. What I struggled to understand was how recognizing an individual’s humanity could overturn implicit biases and how we dehumanize people simply because we don’t interact with them, thus turning them into the other. Just like LaPierre said, I’ve always had the notion that people are more likely to discriminate in person rather than in a hypothetical situation. On the news, my feed is full of stories showing these types of in person discrimination–a black woman denied services, a gay man beaten on the streets–showing that people are more likely to act on our biases when they are confronted face-to-face with the person who represents the sterotype. In fact, I know I’ve acted on these biases many times, like when I’ve crossed the street to avoid a ‘sketchy’ looking black man. It seems to me that human interactions actually provide us the opportunity to act on our subconscious biases. Why would I take time to interact with someone when I already know who they are based on my preconceived biases? But, after looking at this section, I realized the difference between a superficial judgment of a person based on biases, and an actual human interaction, getting to know someone’s story. A person is so much more than they appear to be; reducing someone to one characteristic is what allows us to assume things about them and openly discriminate, but this connection allows us to see them as a human being and not just a stereotype. I think that Brook’s says that “people are more hostile in the abstract” because of this dehumanization and reduction of a person to a stereotype. This passage completely blew my mind, emphasizing the importance of the complexity of humans and the issue of reduction to geographic identity. What Brooks is saying is that only once you interact with a person who is labeled an ‘other’ your biases with be destroyed. I think this passage means that genuine human interactions can overturn our biases since most interactions will disprove stereotypes. Brooks says that it’s easier to discriminate when someone is reduced to a geographic identity, because this affirms what we know to be true about a group of people, even if the bias isn’t true.