Forum Recap

On Wednesday, September 28th over 100 participants from member organizations and community partners came together for a day of powerful conversation and learning. It was an opportunity to ask and answer critical, challenging questions around equity and inclusion.
What is bias?
Participants challenged each other to courageously explore their own biases and assumptions. The conversations were not always easy, being open and honest can be risky. However, as participants got comfortable not being comfortable it created space for powerful conversations around what bias is, what bias can look like, sound like, and feel like.
What does bias cost us?
Bias is challenging to combat. It can be unconscious, unintentional, but it shapes how we perceive and treat others. Biases may be difficult to identify but their effects are tangible, visible. Participants engaged each other to understand the full impact of bias on our organizations and our communities.
It keeps us apart It distracts us
Makes it difficult to come together, creates distance, keeps people apart, division,  us versus them, affects relationships with others, creates division and separation, taking care of self and not ‘the others’, isolates communities, communities get put in a box, puts people in boxes, people moving to suburbs, potentially isolating, can lead to unintentional exclusion, isolation of differences, divides, disconnects, Keeps us separate, bonding or assimilation based on stereotypes, grouping people into sectors, people forget at the end of the day we are all human Focuses interest in wrong direction, focuses energy in the wrong direction, creates deficit based mindset that keeps us from seeing opportunities in communities, focus on deficits of community rather than strengths, it creates a deficit approach in place of a benefit approach
It perpetuates the issues We miss out
Perpetuates issues, group think means biases are perpetuated, groupings become reality, perceptions turn to fact, too easy to stay in our lane – hang out in the same circles, shapes where we go, who we talk to, people live with people who look like them, makes it easy for people to stay in circles or norms, personal perceptions can be applied to a community, perceptions can be self-perpetuating, keeps the status quo, perceptions reinforced and manifested, perceptions lead us to create or manifest things, creates blindness beyond the first impression May prevent people from wanting to explore who I am at a deeper level, leave people's contributions on the table, if people are perceived as limited they will only go so far, it limits how we hear what people are saying, conversations don’t happen, only getting clips – limiting how we understand people
It affects our health and safety It creates barriers
Creates safety issues, safety in neighborhoods, changes how you interact with a community, the less money you have the less privacy you have, safety, creates fear, fearful of change, kill or be killed, get them before they get me, affects health and wellbeing, pressures on racial communities, influences relationships in health or unhealthy ways, causes people to act in certain ways so they fit in, loss of self or identity, creates tension, who owns the community, creates disharmony, conflict, hatred, creates distrust, miscommunication, fear, creates fear, creates mistrust It creates barriers, makes community uninviting, creates roadblocks, creates barriers to connection and communication, creates barriers to opportunity, subtle racism of low expectations, don’t allow conversations, creates assumptions that limits potential, lack of opportunity, puts a ceiling on success and creativity, causes us to get stuck, discourages change, perceptions limit what is possible, holds back everyone from being what they can be, impacts how people believe what is possible for them, gets in the way of building relationships
It makes assumptions about the people we're trying to help
Assumes needs or desires of community that may not be accurate, impacts how we view issues that are affecting that community – our understanding and feeling on those issues changes based on who’s facing the issue, inhibits our ability to understand the true needs (we pick needs instead of asking), misconceptions, trying to apply blanket solutions that don’t take into account individual needs, creation of one size fits all solutions, we use generalizations, people assume domestic violence doesn’t occur in areas that seem safe
 What can we do?
What action can we take as individuals, organizations, and communities? Participants empowered each other to begin answering this question by sharing their ideas for how we can move beyond our biases and assumptions.
As Individuals As Organizations As a Community
Suspend judgment
 
Be open to new ideas
 
Call out and name biases – in yourself and others, make people aware

Challenge perceptions

Share your story and bring your authentic self

Listen

Seek out people and experiences who are different from and for you

Educate yourself and others
Focus on building relationships and foster connections

Be brave, be willing to be uncomfortable

Be patient – understand that’s is an ongoing evolving process
Create safe spaces

Create opportunities for employees to connect with each other and build relationships, opportunities to share their stories and be authentic

Educate, training: for staff and clients

Evaluate your hiring/promotion practices – ensure that if you do enact a policy it is enforced

Build a relationship with your community

Provide a space where many different people can interact

Create opportunities for discussion

Acknowledge differences but don’t compartmentalize

Engage your community – make sure you’re listening to your clients, and giving them opportunity to talk with you, be a part of the community, not just an address in the community

Understand that the work is never over, it’s an ongoing process
Educate: ourselves, our communities, our children

Eliminate barriers to housing

Make and support minority businesses

Create safe spaces and opportunities for people to come together – to listen, to learn, to understand, to build relationships, to connect

Share each other’s stories
Sponsored by the Bush Foundation

Special thanks to our event partner Hamline University