If you see it once, it’s an occurrence.
If you see it repeatedly, it’s a pattern.
That’s what biases feel like, to me.
White peoples have a way. Native peoples have a way. We all have ways.
In many areas, our ways contrast. There are whole charts and tables indicating how we are culturally, in many ways, almost direct opposites. I like talking about the contrasts, so we can prevent conflicts.
But while Native people know we have ways, many White people don’t know that they do. (You can see and feel Alaska Native cultures; why would it be that we can’t see and feel White ones).
You can feel the ways again and again, because: We all have culture. And just as you can feel a group’s ways again and again, so can you feel their biases.
They are regular. Routine. Predictable, and even widely acknowledged and commonly known.
Why are they predictable? Routine? So much so, you can plan for them, count on them, bet on them, create curriculum around them? Plan your introduction and your speeches and your presentation in advance of them?
Because biases come from culture, and people are consistent —(individuals are unpredictable, but I posit that people in groups are not).
To recap —
Culture is everything that is your normal, and everything that is your default. It’s everything you know to be right, real, valid, “common sense,” and how things should be. How you’ve known them to be.
Biases, in my experience, occur when there is a variation from these messages of what should be. Everything I know, I felt it first.
[Even expectations are cultural].
Bonus surprise: We as Native people know White cultural protocols. They’re routine. Predictable. Consistent, because people are consistent over time. We can feel the culture, and it’s the same as when we were younger, and for our parents and parents’ parents. We see ho w it shows up in communities, just as our cultures show up in communities.
Biases are just as felt and just as predictable, because they are matching of culture. They happen when something about someone else doesn’t align with how we were raised to understand what is a good way of being, respectable way of being. When people act in accordance with values that perhaps are not our own, or behave in ways where they make decisions that are different than the ones we’d make.
But good news!
The exciting thing is that we can learn about ourselves! We can additionally grow cultural fluency so that we not only know our own ways, but learn the ways of those around us, so when we see someone doing something that might contrast with our inherent ways, we just know what’s happening beneath the surface.
Something I figured out as a way of noticing your own biases?
Take note of the moments when you were surprised. Then unpack that.