Healthy Mind

Harvard’s ‘Project Implicit’ Test Reveals Your Unconscious Bias in Just 10 Minutes

Kells McPhillips

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Getting to know your own implicit biases is step one of becoming an anti-racist ally to the Black community. That’s why Harvard’s Project Implicit Social Attitude Assessment, a free online tool that unravels the workings of racist thinking, is well-worth its 10-minute commitment for anyone who wants to confront their own racist thoughts and beliefs.

Founded in 1998 by three scientists, the test makes quick work of identifying racism. To gain access to the test, you’ll just enter your email. You’ll then be asked to answer a series of questions to understand how you think about Black and white violence, policing, and your frequency of interaction with the Black community. Part two guides you through a more visual test of linking harmless objects and weapons with Black or white faces in three speed rounds. And, in the end, the test gives you diagnostic of how you perceive white versus Black people in social and political conversations.

Of course, the results flashing before you on the screen will still only get you past step one. Steps two and three (and four and five and six) will require tireless anti-racist work. First and foremost, you’ll want to get as educated as you can on the systematic and interpersonal tactics of racism.“Everybody can do things to create systemic change right where they are. But the first thing you have to do is you have to learn; you have to be on that path to anti-racism. There’s a difference between taking actions in your workplace not having an understanding and taking action with knowledge on your side,” Melissa DePino, co-founder of From Privilege to Progress, an organization dedicated to desegregating the public conversation about race, previously told Well+Good.

Pretend like you’re going back to school: read books, listen to podcasts, and spend time researching what you don’t know. And if you found yourself uncertain about facts you took for granted about Black violence within the test’s questions, make sure your book choice includes something like The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander so that you know the racially-charged realities of who commits crimes and who winds up in jail in this country. If you took the test again, how would you answer questions differently?

Next, take a look at how you speak. Are you reaffirming your biases in the two-letter pronoun “we”? “‘We’, a plural first-person subject pronoun, is often used by white and non-Black allies when talking about racial justice, and more recently, when talking about anti-Black racism in particular,” says Krystal A. Smalls, PhD, a professor of linguistics and anthropology at the University of Illinois. “In tandem, its object counterpart ‘us’ and the plural possessive ‘our/s’ may be used.” Your language is a powerful tool, so if you’re saying “we” to mean “white people,” try being as specific as possible instead.

Of course, racial work doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You’ll also find yourself having hard conversations about white privilege with your white inner-circle, noticing and working to correct diversity and inclusivity issues in your workplace, and watching your wallet so that you can be an ally with your dollars, too.

The test also offers an ongoing reminder to look straight at your knee-jerk reactions and biases. If you do find yourself in the middle of a racist action, consider what triggered it—and how you can, hopefully, keep it from re-emerging in the future. This is the inner-work all white people have ahead of them.

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