Sean Keohane / Equinox Staff

The Associate Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Dottie Morris hosted a Zoom meeting called “Implicit Bias:Unearthing Unconscious Racism in Your Classroom and School” at Keene State on Thursday, November 5.

Project manager at KSC Betsy Street and Nelson Elementary School Principal Kelsey Kilburn co-hosted the event with Morris. This meeting was specifically about the impact on the school environment or classroom environment. Forty-four teachers, directors and principals from all over New Hampshire’s districts joined in.

The meeting stated that there are two types of bias: implicit and explicit. Explicit bias is clear and declares that you favor something or someone. Implicit bias is where you don’t know that you favor one person or something. Morris said, “It’s so unconscious that it’s hard for you to figure it out and it’s had for them to figure it out”.

Participants were told to take ten seconds and write down everything they could think of after some words being said. The phrases included different races and genders combined.

An attendee, Kirsten Smith, said, “For most of them, when you said a specific race or gender, I thought of a specific child that embodied that for me and so I ended up describing that child.”

There were three attendants in the chat that said the same thing. Carole Zervous, another attendee, said, “I just view children as all the same.”

The Implicit Association Test, from Project Implicit, was mentioned if any attendees were interested in testing their personal unknown biases. “A lot of people have taken it, to see where you have a potential area that’s in that area we call the blind spot or hidden part. So where might you have some bias that you’re not even aware of,” Morris said.


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Attendee Jessica Bashford said “It’s a great test. I’d recommend it to all.”

Kilburn said, “I participated in this because I made a comment in another session with Dottie, and it got us thinking about how we teach and celebrate thanksgiving in schools.”

She noticed how at a young age students are being taught the fun of Thanksgiving like making hats and feast and then as students get older, we start to tell them the real truth and history. “And I was questioning why aren’t we doing that from a younger age? Why are we starting off with telling them something that’s not true and then waiting till they’re older?”

“We have to embrace the cultures that everyone has whether they’re from their home country or a blend of their home country and here” said Katera Ashford. With the upcoming holidays teachers can ask themselves if they have an implicit bias, it might be a blind spot. Implicit bias can have an impact on children with another perspective.

The next Zoom meeting in this series of unconscious aspects is, “Honoring Inclusivity in Holiday Celebrations: It’s Not All or Nothing:” This will be on December 9 at 4 p.m.


Amber Olson can be contacted at:

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