Friday, July 6, 2018

Checking My Bias - Walkers

After reading Being the Change by Sara K. Ahmed, I have renewed vigor towards talking with strangers and asking them questions. My husband Bob is my role model for this, and he has taught me that most people want to share. Most people want to talk about themselves. It doesn't look tough for him, but I'm still a bit shy, so I have to force myself to say hello and ask questions. Some days are easier than others, and some instances are easier than others, as well - I've noticed it depends on my own biases about each person. I've already written up (and tried at the end of the last school year) mini lessons for my seventh graders based on identity, and I'm ready to have tough and awkward conversations with my students.

Meagan Parrish (who, thankfully, got me to join a Being the Change Voxer group) suggested Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, and it hit the spot for a Sunday into Monday read this summer. This book helped me see that I may have hidden biases that I don't even know about.


This blog is going to be about checking my own bias.

What biases do I have, and why do I have them?

What is it about my own identity that makes me have these biases?

What could be different about what I assume I know about people?


I'll start with a story from this morning...

I went for a morning walk today around 8am and saw two women walking the other way with a golden retriever.  I had these three strong biases that quickly went through my mind:
     They must not work.
     They must be rich.
     They might have children (teens is my guess).

I checked myself and thought... why do I think they don't work? Well, if they don't work, they must be teachers or stay-at-home moms, or sell Tupperware or are visiting family here, or they own their own businesses, or they're retired.

I know why I thought these things - because it's ALL I KNOW. It's all this person (me) has been exposed to! I know women in all of those situations, or have been in them myself. The reason I guess they have teens is because they didn't have a stroller or kids with them. If they have children, they must be able to be at home by themselves.

Soooo... what COULD these women do during the day? What could their lifestyle be?
     Maybe they were walking before heading to work.
     Maybe they are fitness gurus (personal trainers, yoga instructors).
     Maybe they have a noon or night shift some place - ANY place! Heck, this means they could work at the hospital, McDonald's, one of the industries in town...

And this, my friends, is a bias towards white women walking.
I, too, was a white woman walking this morning. I don't like that my brain is constantly telling me stories about people I DO NOT KNOW. This is why I needed to start this new blogging project. I am hesitant to share it with others, but I've learned more when I'm vulnerable with others than when I keep things to myself.


That being said, I told the Twitterverse today...

I knew if I tweeted it out, I'd have to do it. I wasn't planning on sharing my reflections, just like the other projects I've tried on this blog, but then this happened...

Let's do this.
Let's be vulnerable together.
Let's share our own biases.
Let's write long, rambling stories and quick short snippets.

Heck, the writing can even be anonymous.

Contact me - @JoyKirr on Twitter - or put a comment down below with a way for me to contact you. 

Reflect, write, and share. 
Let's start the conversations that get us to look at our own biases. 
We may learn more about each other, tear down stereotypes, and start thinking differently


  1. I love how you are taking this on. I'm working on the lessons in my notebook. So much to be learned. Thank you for sharing. You are my model.

  2. A bold initiative. It will be interesting to see how far this will take you and how transparent you can be about the process. Thanks for provoking my thinking.