NRVCS hosts workshop on implicit bias

Dr. Bryant T. Marks, Sr. addresses the audience during the workshop on implicit bias on March 22, 2024. (Photo – R. Wilsie/NRVCS)

By Mike Wade, NRVCS

“When you know better, you can do better.”

Those were among the many words of wisdom shared by Dr. Bryant T. Marks, Sr. during a workshop on implicit bias at New River Community College in Dublin on March 22. The event was sponsored by NRVCS.

Dr. Marks is a minister, researcher, trainer, and award-winning educator. He is the founding director of the National Training Institute on Race and Equity and is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.

He told the dozens in attendance that implicit bias (also commonly referred to as “unconscious bias”) is not a fad or trend – and no matter how open-minded or accepting we may consider ourselves to be – we all have implicit biases.

Marks explained that his presentation was designed to raise awareness and not to change behaviors. He added that the goal was to help attendees identify, manage, and reduce their own biases.

“It’s part of the universal human principles that have always been with us,” he said. “Our minds are built to be efficient, but that doesn’t make you a bad person – it simply makes you human.”

To emphasize that point, Dr. Marks noted there are two criteria for a person to have implicit biases: (1) living in society; and (2) having a brain.
“In order to acquire a deeper understanding of implicit bias, you have to understand that this is much more about the machinery of your mind than the content of your character,” said Marks.

A native of New York, Marks is the son of a Mississippi sharecropper. During his time as a professor at the University of Michigan, Marks shared that he had Tom Brady (legendary NFL quarterback) as a student in one of his classes. He also served on the Obama Administration and has provided training for major corporations and organizations across the country.

While Marks declared that we all have biases, he noted that not all biases are inherently bad. However, our respective roles in society can cause those biases to have varying degrees of magnitude.

“Two people can have the same biases but they can certainly have a different impact,” Marks said. “Your title does not exempt you from humanity.”
Marks added that many of the biases we own are a result of disproportionate exposure – an ongoing reinforcement of the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that feed into the perceptions we have of others.

“The reality is that there is more to each and every one of us than meets the eye, but our biases are almost always based on what is visible,” Marks said, “but it’s the things about us which aren’t visible that are far more important.”

NRVCS Executive Director James Pritchett, who initially contacted Dr. Marks about visiting the New River Valley, says feedback from the workshop has been so strong that there are already preliminary discussions about future training opportunities featuring Dr. Marks.

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