The Humans of El Dorado, Kansas

How Our Biases Lead to Social Inequality and Discrimination

Physical Appearances Can Be Misleading

We are taught that seeing is believing; however, when it comes to physical attributes in assessing the ethnicity or race of individuals, "looks" can be deceiving. Very deceiving as a matter of fact.

Below you will be directed to a page where you are going to be asked to sort people, by facial appearances alone, into different different racial categories.

The Sorting of People...

Click to Sort

How well did you do? How difficult was this task? Are you surprised by your results? Does this change your idea of what any particular race "should" look like?

Let's Work through a Few Important Definitions

After we have discussed each of these words, you will be directed to the Implicit Associations Test online through Harvard University; more specifically, a test which will help reveal to you any subconsciously held biases you may have where race is concerned.

After we discuss each word below, click on each of the words to view a more formal definition, as it applies to this lesson.

Making the Associations

Now that we have defined, and made the associations which enable us to understand how a seemingly simple bias can grow into social inequality, it's time to evaluate yourself.

  • Take 5 minutes or so to fill out the worksheet I have provided for you.
  • Answer the questions on the front of the worksheet.
  • Take the test by clicking on the button below.
  • After completing the test, record your results on the back of the worksheet where indicated.
  • Reflect on the results you received and answer the remaining questions.

Once everyone is done with their worksheets, we will begin a class discussion and share our results. Remember, there is no need for hard feelings, shame, or negativity! This activity is about learning; and through learning, we can change ourselves, and thus begin to change the world!

Be positive in your reflection of this test! Most of you may have received unexpected results, and that's okay! In fact it's great! Knowledge is power!

"People almost always find what they're expecting to find if they allow their expectations to guide the search." ~ Bart Eberman

Step outside the box! That's where transformation begins!

Harvard Implicit Associations Test

Don't forget to record your test results on the back of your worksheet, answer the remaining questions provided, and prepare to discuss our findings.

How Much Do We Know About Inequality?

The Center for the Study of Inequality at Cornell University has engineered a test for that!

After clicking on the link provided below, navigate to the Test Your IQ (Inequality Quotient) link, found first in line on the red banner at the top of the page.

There are 12 questions, each with just two answers to choose from.

It's Happening! Real-Life Examples of Social and Racial Inequality

I have chosen a few short video clips to watch, after each we will discuss:

  • What did you notice? Bias, prejudice, stereotypes, discrimination, and/or social inequality?
  • How does seeing these examples make you feel?
  • What changes do you wish to see to make these experiences more just and fair, as well as positive so that equality becomes the new normal in society as a whole?

From Jose to Joe

Visual Assumptions Can Be Embarrassing

How Do Children Interpret Race?

What If White People Were the Minority?

Now it's Time For YOU to Do Some Work!

I have created a Facebook Page called The Human's of El Dorado, Kansas for your final reflection assignment. The instructions are easy, and you should proceed as directed:

For the assessment portion of this assignment, students will be asked to go out amongst their fellow El Dorado citizens, in a safe place and in a respectful manner, approach five people/couples who appear physically different from you to interview and be the subject of this project. It may be wise to pair up with a friend for this project; however, each student must have their own interview subjects and photographs to post for the assignment. You cannot interview other students, these must be people who are strangers to you.

Before interviewing or photographing any potential subjects, students are to introduce themselves and identify themselves as an EHS student doing a project for a social science lesson about inequality and diversity, as well as ask for permission to interview them and to use their photograph for the project on our closed Facebook page. (Perhaps invite them to join and see the project first hand.)

Students will ask the following questions of each subject:

1. What is the meaning of life?

2. What one piece of advice would you most like to share with a group of people?

3. What is the biggest struggle you face?

4. What was the saddest day of you life?

5. What was the happiest day of your life?

Next it is time to upload your photos, with a caption you best feel captured the essence of their meeting with this new person(s). An exact quote from the subject might be used here. Then I would like for the students to choose the ONE subject who most impacted them or was most memorable and caption this photo with a brief synopsis of what made this encounter the most special, what their big “take away” moment was, and how they made you feel.

After this is completed, make a post and thoughtfully answer the following questions:

6. How did you feel approaching these strangers for this project?

7. Did you do anything specific to mentally prepare yourself for approaching subjects for this project?

8. How were your preconceptions of some of these subjects changed after speaking to/getting to know them a little bit?

9. Did you learn anything in this lesson that you could say made this task easier in any way? If so, what was it?

10. How has this lesson changed the way you think about race, stereotypes, bias, discrimination, and social inequality? In what way?

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Thank you all so much for welcoming me into your classroom and allowing me to incorporate my Butler Community College assignment into your lesson on workplace discrimination. I hope you have learned as much as I have about the mechanics behind social inequality, and how learning what biases each of us have only helps us change how we think of one another. With the ability to learn and adapt we can begin to reduce the negativity behind being labeled "different", solely based on appearance, and learn to embrace and support one another instead.