In the past week, one of my fellow class mates, asked me a unexpected question ” Are you an Indian?”. I replied “yes i am, Why do you ask?” because i was unclear with the intent of that question as i sensed a lot of frustration in her voice when she asked me that question. Later, after continuing that conversation with her, i realized that, she had asked this, because she has a fellow Graduate Assistant, who happens to be from India as well, and that she has had quite few unpleasant experiences working with him.
Her actual underlying question for the former question was ” Are all Indians, lazy and in-punctual ?”
I asked her have you ever had any complains from my end through out the semester be it regarding my work enthusiasm or my punctuality. To which she immediately replied, praising my work ethics as she felt i was offended (hehehe). Later we talked and concluded that, No that is not a fact nor an characteristic aspects of people from India, and such habits, I believe are completely personal.
But this conversation left me thinking, that is this a stereotypical subject or not, and after some research “talking to my girlfriend”, i discovered the term Implicit Bias. Unlike explicit bias (which reflects the attitudes or beliefs that one endorses at a conscious level), implicit bias is the bias in judgment or behavior that results from subtle cognitive processes that often operate at a level below conscious awareness and without intentional control.
In simpler words, because of my friends experience with other Indians, she was confused when she didn’t experience the say frustration while working with me, also an Indian. As well as, if it were a student of her home country, she would have found a genuine reason for the in-punctuality rather then just making conclusion directly. This conclusion and confusion at her end, which i learnt, is completely natural and very common in all human beings.
Here is an elaborate article based on a research explaining the roots of implicit bias and on how implicit bias is a natural humane tendency.
But, is it just me, and international non-american student who was judged by another international non-american student or even you have been a victim of implicit bias? Did you just ignored it?