ISLET: How to Overcome Implicit Bias

Paulina Nayra
Posted August 30, 2020 from Philippines
Local government officers from Muslim Mindanao attending a gender sensitivity training.

I am always interested in people. Studying people and cultures fascinates me. This started in high school when I attended the Ethnic Studies class of Mr. Felix Gonzales who became my favorite teacher because I learned something that brought my imagination to faraway and ancient places. I wanted to investigate further by pursuing Journalism or Anthropology in college. Unfortunately, my entrance examination score did not qualify for the courses I wanted and this did not stop me from obtaining a Social Science degree in the national university.

I saw myself as someone who does not easily judge people for how they look. However, there are characteristics and notions I’ve formed about people of different class, gender, ethnicity, age and religion that influenced my cultural perception. I was like a horse wearing blinders with a limited view of the world around me.   I had the tendency to evaluate other peoples’ cultures according to my own. Yes, I was ethnocentric.

Until the age of the internet came where I had the good opportunity to meet people of different cultures, many practicing a religion apart from what I grew up with, some with gender identities, expression and lifestyles I never knew was possible. Interacting with people from the different parts of the globe widened my perspective about the world we live in.

Knowing about the struggles and pains of my sisters at World Pulse heightens my anger about how our lives were similarly manipulated into subservience and marginalization by men and patriarchy. How government officials turned a deaf ear to gender-based violence. How businesses and big corporations exploited labor and the environment to generate more profit. How religions, kept women in subordinate positions. It is where, my implicit bias comes in.

I pause, breathe and realize that there are good men who support women empowerment. There are bureaucrats who are working hard to stop gender-based violence. There are socially responsible businesses and ethical corporations. There is a religion that espouses equality and members of patriarchal religions who believes in gender equality and women empowerment.

Recognizing the nuances among people help me check my biases. Yet, I cannot claim to be a totally unbiased person. Learning and unlearning is a continuing process. By reading books from Latin American, African, Indian, Middle Eastern and other foreign authors and developing meaningful friendships with people from different cultures help me subtly untangle the biases I’ve formed about persons whom I initially thought thinks differently from me.

Although, we come in different colors, sizes and shapes, we share the same dreams. We want to love and be loved. We want to contribute and be valued. We believe in the dignity of human person. We all want peace and denounce violence.

I am learning this by listening to the stories of my World Pulse sisters and putting myself in their big shoes. I am mighty proud of their creativity, eloquence and courage.  Cognizant that I know little of the world around me, I proactively seek stories and encourage sisters from our community of 190 countries beyond my Encourager assignments. My interest in people has brought me to sixty  (60) countries so far (without leaving my country :-)).

Now, if you are to ask me how I overcome bias in building relationships with people from different backgrounds or contexts than my own? I go from one ISLET to another. I get Interested. Study. Listen. Empathize and Treat people as my equal.

This story was submitted in response to Stronger Together.

Comments 9

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Prozoe
Aug 31
Aug 31

Dear sister.

we all ought to look at ourselves carefully everytime we look in the direction of another humans person, weather they look, sound, believe of think like us or not.

Mary Poppins puts it so well for my easily excited brain " The cover is not the book, so open it up and take a look `cause under the covers one discovers that the king may be the crook. Cover titles are like signs, and if you read between the lines, You`ll find your first impression was mistook."

thank you for investing your time in getting to know people, it is an attribute to character that many of us need to invest in.

#BigLove

Paulina Nayra
Aug 31
Aug 31

Dear Prozoe,
Citing Mary Poppins evoke an unforgettable event in my life. That’s the first film I watched in a movie house and the only time I was with my father and mother together. I was 5 or 6 years old that time. I am 59 now. It was doubled with “Born Free”. Thank you for bringing back a cherished memory.
Hugggs.

Prozoe
Sep 01
Sep 01

Mamma Pauline
I am so glad that I could trigger the memory of such precious moments. May you be blessed with more of those here on world pulse. Looking forward to reading more from you.

#BigLove

Hello, Ate Pauline,

I could attest that you don't judge people. I still remember the first day we met, and I couldn't believe I told my personal story to a "stranger". It was because your presence is so comforting and caring. I wish all our World Pulse sisters can meet you. You are such an amazing woman full of wit and humor. I miss you, Ate Pauline!

I love that you are writing frequently on World Pulse now. Wow, you counted how many countries you've been to just by reading the stories here. I love the acronym: ISLET!

Thanks for sharing! More please. I know there's more!

Paulina Nayra
Aug 31
Aug 31

Dear Karen,
Your story was one of those I never knew was possible. I listened intently, absorbed it and was thinking about it till I slept. So when I meet young people selling stuff for their “church” my mind wander to your story.
I am happy and proud of you. I celebrate your freedom and talent.
Huggggs very tight.

Awww. Thank you, Ate Pauline. One day I will be able to tell that story to help young people weigh what's right and wrong when it comes to "church" activities. I'm honored to meet you. Thank you so much!

Hugsss!

ARREY- ECHI
Aug 31
Aug 31

Dear Ate Paulina,
I hope you are doing well today. Thank you so much for this beautiful post. It just reminds me of how much unlearning and relearning we have to do in life. One of the things that helped me look at the world differently and embrace everyone apart from my christain faith was pursuing an undergraduate study in Sociology and Anthropology. Studying cultures and peoples helped to keep a broad mind.
I like this line "Although, we come in different colors, sizes and shapes, we share the same dreams. We want to love and be loved. We want to contribute and be valued. We believe in the dignity of human person. We all want peace and denounce violence."
That is so true because no matter where we are, that is what we yearn for more. I love your ISLET and what it stands for.
A blessed week ahead to you.

Paulina Nayra
Aug 31
Aug 31

Dear Arrey,
Happy to hear that you studied my aspired courses. I should be learning from you. You are indeed my soul sister or daughter perhaps coz I can see we have a lot in common. Huggggs.

Thelma obani 2020
Sep 04
Sep 04

Your a strong woman who sees the good in everyone.
Thanks for sharing your love to all.of us.