Welcome to the conversation!

Welcome to the conversation!

Harriet Beecher Stowe's (1811-1896) best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), made her the most famous American woman of the 19th century and galvanized the abolition movement before the Civil War.

The Stowe Center is a 21st-century museum and program center using Stowe's story to inspire social justice and positive change.

The Salons at Stowe programs are a forum to connect the challenging issues (race, gender and class) that impelled Stowe to write and act with the contemporary face of those same issues. The Salon format is based on a robust level of audience participation, with the explicit goal of promoting civic engagement. Recent topics included: Teaching Acceptance; Is Prison the New Slavery; Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North; Creativity and Change; Race, Gender and Politics Today; How to be an Advocate

This blog will expand the reach of these community conversations to the online audience. Add your posts and comments to keep the conversation going! Commit to action by clicking HERE to stay up to date on Salon and social justice news.

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Sunday, January 4, 2015

"Fast thinking" Discrimination and #Racial #Bias

Social scientist Sendhil Mullainathan writes in the New York Times of "fast thinking" discrimination, or rather the phenomenon in which people generate assumptions on individuals, events, or ideas based on quick thoughts and first-impressions. "Fast thinking" discrimination or implicit bias, as some social scientists describe, begets race-based inequities in housing, employment, and medical care among other situations.

Mullainathan provides examples of empirical studies in which quick decisions elicited unintentional discriminatory results. He cites his own study completed in 2003, in which he sent hundreds of resumes, identical in content, but differing in the name attached to the resume, to employers across the country. Resumes with traditional white or European names yielded 50% more results than those with traditional African American names. When the results of the study were published, employers were shocked to find that though they believed they were conscious of diversity in hiring, that unconsciously they were operating under preconceived biases and notions.

How can we combat "fast thinking" discrimination? To conclude, Mullainathan explains that everyone, by product of receiving long-held and stereotypical ideas of race (or gender, sexuality, ability etc.) from history, media, or education, participates in forms of "fast thinking" discrimination or implicit bias. What are ways in which we can train ourselves to not hold implicit biases on race, gender, sexuality, class or any form of identity? Or better yet, how can we prevent the formation of unconscious bias in the first place? 

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