I had taken (I think) the Race and/or Skin Tone Implicit Association Tests a few years ago during a workshop on implicit bias. I do not remember where I fell at that time, but I likely had a moderate to strong preference for light skinned people, White Americans, etc. as the majority of folks lie within those two categories. My results this time around were sort of all over the place, which I am taking as a small sign of progress? Or perhaps just more regular exposure to more non-White people. I spent the last two years living in the Arabian Gulf and, as a white person, was a racial minority. This is not an experience that many white Americans get to have, but honestly should if ever given the chance. Living and working in the Gulf as a white American woman was a fascinating place to be continuing my own journey towards social consciousness
For the Skin Tone IAT, I had a moderate preference for light skinned people, but on the Race IAT, I showed no automatic preference between African Americans and European Americans. I suppose I assumed the results would be similar. For the Asian IAT, my responses suggested little or no automatic association between American and Foreign with Asian American and European American. I am wondering if my experience in the Gulf, being around a lot of people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds and a wide variety of skin tones played a part. Some of my favorite friends and colleagues were light skinned people from Asia and also darker skinned people from the African continent and the US. My guess is that my brain made a positive association between the photo (That picture sort of looks like my friend so and so!) and thus the positive association and more positive result on the test. This has prompted to learn more about bias and how we can work learn to work through those conscious and unconscious biases. I know we'll be doing more of that in Module 2! For the Native IAT, my responses suggested a strong automatic association for American with White American and Foreign with Native American. This was disappointing, but not surprising. I had the opportunity to spend two weeks engaging in service on two different Native American reservations through my job several years ago and that has largely been the extent of my exposure to Native American people. And while we interacted with people with people on the reservation during that time, I did not maintain any lasting relationships with the people I met. This is a community that we learn about in the past tense at school and any history we do learn is very whitewashed. I had the opportunity to serve in AmeriCorps in Alaska for a year and my eyes were opened to many of the challenges that Native people face in modern day: poverty, substance abuse, homelessness, high rates of unemployment, and the list goes on. I found myself getting a bit tripped up on certain photos, particularly Devil's Tower since I had visited there and learned about the significance of the monument to Native Americans. The Lakota name of Devil's Tower in Wyoming translates to Bear's Lodge, so when I saw the photo, I kept associating it with Native Americans even if that wasn't the objective for that particular round of questions. There were other monuments pictured that I'm certain also had significance in Native American culture, but I just wasn't familiar with said history (such as the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls). But perhaps that's just me trying to rationalize a reason for an undesirable Native IAT result? In reality, if I learned about this community in the past tense and then all I know about them in the present day is the terrible state of affairs both on and off reservations in the 21st century, what else should I have expected from my results on the Native IAT? This was an excellent reminder that while I have made concerted efforts in learning about other ethnic groups and cultures, I still have a long way to go to develop a more complete and holistic understanding of Native American people and culture.
Since I lived in the Arabian Gulf for the past two years, I also took the Arab-Muslim IAT out of curiosity. My responses suggested a strong automatic preference for Arab Muslims over other people which only occurs in 5% of the people that take this test. This made me smile. :) The IAT isn't a regular test you can study for. I think many of us taking this course wishes that it were. I think we'd like to tell ourselves, "I can take this anti-racism training, read a few books, and then I'm done! Hooray I'm free of implicit bias!" But we all know it doesn't work that way. I suppose if I think of the IAT as a test you could study for, it's actually a pretty fun test to prepare for. You get to meet new people, make new friends, experience new places, and learn about a new culture. 'Studying' for the IAT is a lifelong journey.