Implicit Bias

At the recent “Free Thought/ Free Speech” event on campus, I had a conversation with a boy who believed that implicit bias was entirely harmless. He did not understand, or even try to understand, the relationship between internalized prejudice and hate crimes. This snowflake then tried to mansplain to me the concept of implicit bias using useless and tokenizing analogies. So to the boy in the American flag t-shirt and Sperrys (the unofficial uniform of the cis-straight-white male), let me break down for you a fraction of the cost of your ignorance.

The increasing consequences of Islamophobia can now be measured in body counts. The rhetoric spread by Donald Trump in his campaign to supposedly “Make America Great Again” has eclipsed television campaigns, Twitter rants and rallies. During his presidential campaign, Trump floated the concept of a special database and identification card system for Muslim Americans. We have learned that his words are not bouncing off the majority of the American people. For many, these ideas are sticking, and these words are doing more harm than ever imaginable.

One of the most famous examples of this is the case of Khalid Jabara. A 37-year-old Lebanese immigrant, Jabara was gunned down by his neighbor Stanley Majors. The murder was not unexpected or unforeseen. For years, Majors had been verbally attacking the whole Jabara family with racial slurs, calling Jabara a “dirty Arab” on many occasions. He was reported to have had an unusual obsession with the family. Authorities later learned that Jabara was a practicing Christian.

Maulama Akonjee and Thara Uddin, two Bangladeshis, were shot execution style as they left their local mosque. Recently, three more Bangladeshi Muslims in New York were murdered in a string of anti-Muslim crimes. While these details are bloody and horrifying, the situation in which they occurred is potentially the most disconcerting and significant part.

While the details of these killings are horrifying, the atmosphere in which they occurred remains the most disturbing and consequential aspect. Even before these recent attacks, Muslim Americans have lived under a dark cloud of distrust. A 2014 study showed them surpassing atheists as America’s least accepted religious group.

About 3.3 million Muslims reside in the United States, and between 2001 and the end of 2016, over 300 have been involved in violent crimes. Violent extremists are only 1 in 10,000 in the United States.

Do not tell me that my struggles are invalid because you live in a fairyland painted white. It is a sweet and romantic view to believe that our thoughts do not affect our actions but it is also dangerous, stupid and privileged. You are entitled to your views, sure, but if you ever find yourself, a blond hair, blue eyed, able bodied white man, engaged with three brown people in a conversation about prejudice: sit down, shut up and listen.