Meg Mitchell shares about Equity and Agility

Bias (noun):  A prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.

Meg Mitchell, co-facilitator of Equity and Agility

If you are a human being like me, you have biases. I’m aware of some of my biases and still I have others that are subconscious. Biases come about because of how the human brain is wired, the unique way we experience life, and the ways we were socialized in our families and society.  

So, if we all have biases, why do we so often wrap them in shame and stuff them further into our subconsciousness only to have them suddenly exposed by what we think, say, or do? We can even get frustrated, embarrassed, or defensive when our biases are the opposite of what we consciously believe and value. When this happens to me, I so badly want to explain. Yet, at times, it can seem like the best thing to do is to remain quiet and avoid the risk of exposing those shameful, subconscious patterns that emerge when talking about our differences.  

Thankfully, there is another way. La Clinica and Wings Seminars designed the Equity and Agility seminar to assist people in setting aside these common reactions. By making it normal to recognize and share our biases, we can lean into the resources we all have within us to respond with new behaviors in the moment. In choosing this brave, potentially uncomfortable, and ultimately compassionate act, it’s possible to heal our past and make new choices. When we do this with others, we invite them to do the same.

As we learn to recognize bias, we can be in service by noticing when it’s become systemic in the places and organizations that we interact in day by day. We learn to ask questions in our communities and use our power in positive ways by seeking out and valuing differences. We learn to create connection and belonging around new possibilities and develop a broader scope of reality that embraces others and values equity. We learn to outgrow our bias by turning humiliation into humility.

I volunteer once a week at elementary schools. A while ago I was waiting for a class to start and I noticed shelves stuffed with children’s reading books. I looked through several holiday-themed books that seemed to reinforce social stereotypes about race and ethnicity. One had a publishing date of 1992. At the break, I showed the books to the teacher and asked about his impression. Sheepishly, he explained that he’d taken over the classroom from a retired teacher and had not looked at the hundreds of books on the shelves. Our initial embarrassment and anxiety turned toward excitement as we explored ways we could work together to update the selection. Now, I have a little obsession for finding great children’s books that embrace differences and create connections.

That is one simple, personal example of how my own awareness and agility continues to grow. And, I don’t think I’m the only one reading the papers, listening to the radio, or watching TV about the latest individual or organization caught in the spotlight of social change. I believe this is the important work of our time, for all of us, across race, class, gender, or political persuasion. If you have begun the exploration of bias, want to be more agile around differences, or want to positively use the power you already have, come join us for the Equity & Agility seminar.    

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