When we are asked to look in the mirror it is to reflect on our unconscious biases — stereotypes and assumptions deep within our minds that affect our actions. These are biases we are not aware of, and they may not be the same as our declared, conscious beliefs. In other words, thoughts about people you didn’t know you had.

Most everyone has some implicit, or unconscious, bias as explained in the book, “Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People,” by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony Greenwald. There is a test we can take to gain a better understanding of where we stand. You can find it at https://www.projectimplicit.net/

We also need to look out our windows and see that systemic racism does exist. To say that it doesn’t illustrates ignorance regarding the struggle of African Americans throughout history.

Racist policies and racist ideas have worked together to create an acceptance of racial inequalities in our systems and institutions of every day life. Examples of these inequalities include home ownership, where 73.7% of white families owned their homes compared to 44% of Black families; average income, where white households earned about $71,000 annually compared to about $42,000 in Black households; lack of health insurance, where 7% of white people don't have health insurance, compared to 11% of Black people; and the poverty rate, where 8.1% of white people live in poverty compared to 20.7% of Black people.

It’s not a matter of being “a” racist. It’s about policies that are either racist — supporting inequity between racial groups — or antiracist — supporting equity between racial groups.

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Denying that there is a problem is at the core of racism. This is why we need to look in the mirror and examine our actions and beliefs. Then we need to look out our windows and do the work to change policies within the institutions that have kept people of color oppressed. To be antiracist one must do the work, not just make the claim. Read “How To Be An Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi to learn more.

We need to challenge ourselves and educate ourselves about things that matter. Of course all lives matter. However, a good doctor once said, “All bones in our body matter, but a broken bone needs immediate attention.”

Dana Herman,

Shell Lake