Grappling with bias yet again

Dear President Trump,

The other day I was stuck behind a midnight blue Nissan I thought was really beautiful and thought, ‘I know, along with green cars, I’ll send blessings to ones I think are pretty.’ I immediately recoiled from my own mental process. Sending nice thoughts to green cars still seems ok as I have no preference for them and the practice is a way for me cope with frustrating traffic. However, bestowing blessings on cars I happen to think are attractive is problematic. Will I preferentially accommodate cars I like and let them in ahead of me? Will I give them a pass on unsafe driving? Am I harder on cars I don’t like the looks of? What other, more consequential, but less consciously accessible preferences might I be acting on in the rest of my life? I’m calling this out not because I think I’m awful for having had the thought or particularly righteous for having realized where it could lead, but simply to give you a concrete example to chew on.

This all feels related to the assumptions I made when I saw a headline about the Canadian jogger who accidentally crossed into the US and was detained for two weeks. In my (still benighted by stereotypes) mind, Canadian joggers are all white men so “the (unverified) fact” that a Canadian jogger was detained, somehow, ever so slightly, tipped the balance in your favor in a “hmm, maybe we aren’t just singling out poor, brown skinned people who cross into the US to persecute unfairly.” But then I decided to check into the Canadian jogger story and found that the person who was detained was a brown skinned young woman. She was jailed near the border for a few days and then held in the detention center in Tacoma for 10 more days. I don’t think any of that would have happened if she had been a white male Canadian person, do you?

We have to do better. We have to resist the virulent, racist divisions you and yours are exploiting. We have to question our preferences and stereotypes and check them before we act on them. We will mess-up sometimes. Yes, absolutely. But we have got to get a grip on ourselves because it is truly a matter of life and death for far too many.

May we all be able to exist safely in the world in whatever body we happen to inhabit.
May we all be happy to check ourselves for biases.
May we all be healthy and strong enough not to be threatened by differences.
May we all commit to peace over and over and over and over again and again until the end of time.

Tracy Simpson

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