I was traveling from Strasbourg to Frankfurt by bus last Summer. When I arrived at the bus station, there was a huge crowd with luggage, strollers and bags everywhere. Children, elderly, women, men. 50 percent Arabic. A vivid crowd.
My math skills are not great, but I could easily see that one bus will not fit us all. Half an hour later a second bus arrives. The Arab group of passengers rushed to load their luggage into the bus. Once in, children, elderly and women boarded. Men went last. The doors of the second bus are still closed and the Dutch driver is adamant: until the first bus is full, no one gets on the second bus. He says there is one more sit in the first bus. No one moved.
I took my travel bag and moved to the first bus. “They will not blow their own people” my mind reassured me and started designing contingency plans. “Well, done, human rights trained lawyer!”, my heart responds. There it was, a bias I did not even suspect I had. Once in, my brain slowed down. Kids, women were sited in front sits. All men took their seats in the back of the bus. Five minutes later, another white young lady entered the bus. She looked scared screening faces in the bus. She spotted mine and immediately relaxed.
Throughout the two and a half hour trip, there seemed to be a certain unspoken harmonious structure. I sat next to a ten-year old girl who learned German from a grammar book. Her mother and brother sat behind. She was constantly apologizing whenever her children would be louder than usual. An hour into the trip, snack time seemed to be a family meal. Everyone shared with everyone food they had. A baby was crying. All women around would hold him in turns to help the young mother. Where was the danger my brain warned me about?!
“Our biases can be dangerous, even deadly — as we’ve seen in the cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner, in Staten Island, New York. Diversity advocate Vernā Myers looks closely at some of the subconscious attitudes we hold toward out-groups. She makes a plea to all people: Acknowledge your biases. Then move toward, not away from, the groups that make you uncomfortable. In a funny, impassioned, important talk, she shows us how.” Verna Myers

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