I stumbled upon this video, which triggered me to read and write about implicit bias. I have never heard about this term before, but I know a little bit about “sub-conscious prejudice”. Actually these two terms are quite similar. I like the content of that video, except the part on international conferences. In my opinion, people who call themselves as scholars (including Indonesian scholars) are not that shallow by only prefer to discuss with international delegates in a conference just because they are whites. Therefore, I disagree with her opinion in this case.
According to an article in Scientific American, implicit bias is a sign that your brain is still working properly. You’re not being racist by showing an implicit bias. Let me give you some examples and perhaps you can relate with your situations.
Most of Asians adore Caucasian people too much
I am not only talking about Indonesians. Let’s get real, most of Asian people feel proud if they know at least one Caucasian people, personally, in their lives. This is not only a situation that tends to happen in low-mid income Indonesian society who love taking selfies with the whites. What is the reason behind this? Post-colonialism mentality, I would say. Most Asians think that Caucasian people have higher hierarchy than them and therefore they must serve them, as a form of being respective. This is an inherited mentality from their predecessors.
Not all Caucasian people are better than Asian people. Living in a European country for a while, I notice that actually they pay more respect towards us because of our strong mentality and good attitudes. For me, I never feel inferior and I don’t adore them that much now.
English and other European languages are cool
Being able to communicate in English is cool. When you intend to explain about something and you do it in English, somehow people will give you more respect rather than when you do it in Indonesian language, for example. I agree that in order to become citizens of the world, we must be able to communicate in English. However, it does not mean that it is okay if we cannot speak Indonesian properly.
I consider people in my generation (Y generation a.k.a Millenials) are still lucky. When we grew up there were not so many international schools available in Indonesia. We only had choices to go to public or private schools, which of course offer Indonesian language as a compulsory subject. We started to learn English at fourth grade. So, we can speak both languages properly.
I am afraid that Indonesian Z generation will lose their identity as Indonesians by not being able to speak Indonesian properly. Being able to communicate in foreign languages (not only English) is important and certainly will bring benefits and open more opportunities for us. However, we must remember that being able to communicate, orally and verbally, in proper Indonesian is no less important.
We need to look on German and French people in terms of nation-pride. Young people in these two countries speak their languages properly and they really don’t care if they still have their accents while trying to communicate in English.
Indonesian people who earn degrees from abroad are smarter than those who earn degrees from local universities
Funny thing, most of the times this assumption does not come from people in Indonesia, but from the graduates themselves. They expect to get higher starting salaries compared to local graduates, just for the sake of having international degree.
That’s totally wrong, guys! In terms of intellectuality, there are not much differences between local and international graduates. Perhaps if we talk about mentality and adaptibility, I can say there are differences.
Chinese-Indonesian people are rich, greedy, and arrogant
This is a stereotype that have been existing among native Indonesian people for a long time. I also experienced this kind of situation when I was a kid. I went to one of the Catholic schools in Jakarta and most of the students there have Chinese-Indonesian ethnicity background. Yes, some of them are rich and arrogant. Some of them not. But most of them are smart. So, my motivation at that time was to beat those Chinese guys, in terms of getting the highest rank in the class in each semester. That was so silly and funny at the same time.
Growing up, some of my friends have Chinese-Indonesian background and they are some of those nicest people I have ever known in my life.
Be aware of black people
Many of us associate black people with drug dealers and criminals. Therefore, whenever we interact with them in our lives, we stay alert automatically.
When I studied in UK, I got to know some friends from Nigeria. And they are good people.
People, other than Germans, are dangerous
I see elderly people here in Germany are somehow become suspicious when they interact with non-German people (including me). This is the reason why I never offer any assistance to elderly German people if they do not ask me to do that. Just to avoid misunderstandings. 🙂
Of course there are many others implicit bias that we usually experience in our daily lives.
Implicit bias is normal. It is people’s way to “protect” themselves. However, this implicit bias can be reduced by exposing yourself to more varied situations. Traveling to new places and getting to know new cultures can be one of the ways to reduce implicit bias, I think.
In the end, we cannot judge people only by their education, cultural, and religious backgrounds. Human beings have their strength and weakness, in spite of their backgrounds.