Reflection on LMU’s Implicit Bias Initiative

INTERCULTURAL AFFAIRS | Four thousand seven hundred sixty-three. This is how many LMU community members have participated in an implicit bias workshop since 2016.

That’s 3,892 students, 259 faculty members, and 612 staff members at both the LMU and Loyola Law School campuses who have learned the importance of recognizing one’s implicit biases and understanding how those biases affect our community and beyond. That’s 4,763 community members who have learned the differences between System 1 and 2 thinking, who understood the disparities between the two Thomas Meyers, and of course, who discovered how many “passes does the team in white make.”

For those unfamiliar, implicit biases are attitudes, both favorable and unfavorable, that are activated without awareness or intentional control and that are different from and sometimes in contrast to explicit, self-reported beliefs. Implicit biases result from normal human cognitive processes that we all possess. If we are not aware of our biases, they can lead to misjudgments and discriminatory acts. Since 2016, the President’s Initiative on Implicit Bias has brought an increased awareness of implicit bias in our LMU community, and Intercultural Affairs is very proud of the work by many divisions and departments in this effort. Yet, there is so much more to be done as we approach the final year of the initiative.

Aside from the number of community members we aim to reach in workshops, we must continue to be aware of the biases in our “new” lives. Our biases might create blind spots as we have transitioned to remote working. For example, while popular media, internet memes, and viral videos have depicted life during the COVID-19 crisis as a simple return to domesticity, remote working/learning, and connecting with loved ones through Zoom meetings, such narratives can bias us to forget that not everyone has consistent internet access, adequate home environments, and technological savvy to make this transition with ease. Thankfully, LMU’s IT department has gone far to assist where they could. This “new normal” of remote life and depictions of deserted campuses in popular media may also cause us to overlook the couple of hundred students, student affairs staff, maintenance personnel, and our Jesuit brothers and Marymount sisters who remain on the LMU campus.

Of course, our biases can have deadly consequences. While many of us may feel healthy during this public health crisis, our biases might unintentionally blind us into harming those who are more vulnerable to COVID-19. Additionally, we cannot ignore how biases have contributed to the spate of malicious incidents harming our communities. “Zoom-bombing,” virus terrorism, and heightened anti-Asian bias have emerged during this crisis. Our biases can’t let us ignore the fact that African Americans and Latinos and Latinxs are more likely to suffer serious health issues from COVID-19 than other communities. Nor the fact that the places that continue to operate and are susceptible to the virus – our hospitals, our grocery stores, our agricultural fields – are disproportionally staffed by immigrants and people of color. There are deeper issues of structural racism and xenophobia embedded with these sobering facts to be sure, but our biases contribute and reinforce these inequalities.

For additional resources and tips to deal with implicit biases, please refer to our website. Here are some other resources:

On the one hand, we are proud that 4,763 members of LMU’s community have participated in an implicit bias workshop. On the other hand, we are far from making LMU a bias-free environment. Bias education is constant work. For those who have not attended a workshop, please contact us as we are planning our workshops for the upcoming year and introducing an interactive online version for staff in case we continue to operate remotely. For those who have attended a workshop, you can continue raising awareness by talking about bias to your colleagues, your families, and your community members. We also invite you to participate in our Cultural Consciousness Conversations, where we take deeper dives and discussions into issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

As we remind people at our workshops, mitigating our biases takes all of us. It will take all of us to get through this crisis, and it will take all of us to build a better society where everyone is included moving forward. #LMUTogether

Joseph Bernardo, Ph.D.
Intercultural Affairs Associate

OIA Buzz

  • Quote of the Month: “The last of the human freedoms: to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Victor Frankl, “Man’s Search for Meaning”
  • D & I Quick Tips: Implicit Bias
  • CONTINUITY OF COMMUNITY: Community Check-in Survey
    • Calling all LMU and LLS students, faculty, and staff —help us track the impact of COVID-19 on members of our campus community by filling out a Community Check-in Survey by Wednesday, April 29.

This brief survey consists of 12 items that should take about five to seven minutes to complete. The newly formed Continuity of Community group is charged with helping to maintain our institution’s strong and distinctive sense of community – grounded in our university mission and our commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion – during this time of social distancing and remote learning. We want to check in with you about how COVID-19 has affected you.

  • CULTURAL CONSCIOUSNESS CONVERSATIONS: Increase your comfort level and build community with faculty, staff, and administration. Learn about the program and EXPRESS YOUR INTEREST in next year’s cohort
  • Stay connected! Follow us on Twitter @LMU_OIA #StrengthenDiversity #OIASpotlight