BREAKING DOWN BIAS

By Steve McCann



Canada Day is just around the corner. While it’s a time to celebrate, the discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children at a residential school in Kamloops has forced many people to take a good hard look at the country we live in.

The statues of our founding fathers are being removed over their tarnished legacies of racist policies. We’ve seen firsthand how systemic racism in law enforcement, health care, and the workplace negatively affects those most vulnerable. We’ve seen anti-immigrant attitudes in the height of border closures brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

While we’re taking a good hard look at the country we live in, it’s forcing us to look at how we view and treat others.

Let’s face it, we all have bias. Just ask Queen’s University professor Eleftherios Soleas, who authored a poignant piece for theconversation.com. He’s the first to admit he holds certain biases, just like anyone. It’s natural, and part of the human condition. However, being aware of these biases and how we act on them is the only way to make our society better for everyone in it.

Soleas says biases are driven by motivation, which can be broken down into three driving forces: expectancy, value, and cost.

Expectancies are our expectations of success. Can a person believe they are impartial and are capable of being impartial, no matter the issue?

Values. Why we do things. Maybe it feels good, maybe we need to do something. A value-driven person may be more willing to accept they have bias toward something or someone.

Cost. The price of doing something, even it doesn’t feel good. Are you willing to pay the cost of the difficult conversations and emotions when talking about bias, and why certain people are treated less fair in society?

It’s a complicated issue to absorb, and not one that can be accomplished by reading a single article. Knowing we have bias is crucial and stigmatizing or pretending we don’t have it only worsens the situation. It’s the first step in a long journey to make Canada a more just and equal place to live, and a journey that’s long overdue.