Understand bias first.

We are biased, even the most open-minded amongst us.

Nobody talks about bias better than Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt in her much-acclaimed book “Biased.” We hold biases based on so many characteristics from gender to race to height. Dr. Eberhardt narrates her story of how she was body slammed by a police officer on the top of the roof of her car for driving a car in Boston that had its registration in her mother’s name. Later, a meta-analysis of 18.5 million traffic stops across the US between 2010 and 2016 done by her graduate student, Nicholas Camp, showed that when “black drivers are pulled over, they are more than twice as likely as white drivers to have been stopped for an equipment violation (broken light, expired tag etc) than a moving violation.”

The stereotypes in our heads are generations old and social media makes us more biased. Today, it’s easy to spread what’s wrong faster than what’s right.

Everyday biases at work can stunt careers and prevent opportunities for growth. In an article in the Harvard Business Journal “Are you aware of your biases?” leadership coach Carmen Acton tells us why she had shunned a smart employee from good projects because she assumed he was not fit to do the job because he didn’t have a college degree.

Understand your biases before you start launching your Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work. Being aware of oneself is the first step towards a journey that includes everyone and excludes none.

Gun in a Black boy’s pocket

A. Van Jordan’s poem “Airsoft” dedicated to Tamir Rice made me sad and angry.

Tamir Rice

Just five days before Thanksgiving, on November 22, 2014, Rice was shot and killed by police at 3:30 pm in broad daylight at a recreation center in Cleveland, Ohio. His gun was an Airsoft replica whose pellets the boy was ignorant of and the police officer shot him dead thinking it was a real gun.

Was this done out of bias? Was this done out of centuries of hatred? Was this done out of prejudice? Was this done out of sheer brutality or dislike of the color of somebody’s skin or looks? Or, was this done by a mentally deranged individual? Was this a mistake? Was this miscommunication?

Who on earth would shoot a 12-year-old?

As mysterious as a cat in a box,

a toy gun in a Black boy’s pocket,

the gun neither dead nor alive,

unless offered a chance to empty

his pocket to solve the paradox

of what a day might hold. – A. Van Jordan. “Airsoft”

Western rugged individualism sometimes focuses on subjective written laws, a jury, and very rarely, common sense.