The “silent killer” of diversity slays

Guest speaker Carolina Bravo-Karimi, esq. gives her passionate presentation on implicit bias in the Student Lounge on May 4th. (Nick Alaimo/Lariat)

Guest speaker Carolina Bravo-Karimi, esq. gives her passionate presentation on implicit bias in the Student Lounge on May 2nd. (Nick Alaimo/Lariat)

Implicit bias is a very bizarre concept to grasp, but the guest speaker Carolina Bravo-Karimi, esq. brought it to light with her recent gender conference, Implicit Bias: The Silent Killer of Diversity. The conference was held in the Student Lounge on May 2nd.

Implicit bias is the concept of biases that are unconsciously brought out through one’s life. Common examples of these are well documented phenomena such as the pay gap between men and women, people of color and whites, minorities vs. majorities.

Implicit bias is not done on purpose, according to the program. It is brought to light through unconscious awareness of stereotypes.

Education is one of the prime breeding grounds for implicit bias. Bravo-Karimi played a video clip documenting a young African-American high school student’s experience with implicit bias.

The student gives his recollection of when three of his African-American friends were all grouped together at the back of the class, his teacher would tell them that they were being disruptive and distracting the class. However, if three white girls were gossiping and laughing together during the entire class they would either be ignored or just told to quiet down, she said.

Although examples like these are mild, there are more extreme cases as well. Bravo-Karimi also told the audience of a study conducted by CSU Northridge that used a first person shooter video game to judge an officer’s implicit bias against people of other races. She also said people are much more likely to shoot a black target than a white target, regardless of what he’s holding, and they’re much faster to shoot an armed black target than they are to shoot an armed white target.

Bravo-Karimi is a member of Wilson Turner Cosmo LLP, a local legal firm, so she also touched on the judicial side of the implicit bias spectrum. During her presentation she stated “Judges are more likely to sentence a verdict if the defendant is black rather than white. Walk into any courtroom in Orange County and look at the list of defendants. You will be hard pressed to find anyone of them who is white.”

The biggest part of Bravo-Karimi’s presentation was the employment section as she handles hiring on new employees at her law firm. When describing how implicit bias impacts the hiring process Bravo-Karimi stated, “You can send the same exact resume with only the name changed. One will be a stereotypical white name like ‘John Smith’ while another will be a stereotypical black name such as ‘Jamal’ and you will get half as many callbacks for ‘Jamal’.”

Again, implicit biases are not conscious. Everyone has them whether they realize it or not. They impact almost every facet of our lives but the good news is, they’re not permanent. According to the Kiriwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, “Implicit biases are malleable. Our brains are incredibly complex, and the implicit associations that we have formed can be gradually unlearned through a variety of debiasing techniques.” Just be aware that implicit bias can affect your judgement, and catch it when it does before it’s too late.

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