A stereotype is an oversimplified generalization about a person or group of people without regard for individual differences. Even seemingly positive stereotypes that link a person or group to a specific positive trait can have negative consequences. A stereotype is born from an idea that turns into a belief. Theses mental constructs or thoughts invoke within us a feeling, which turns into an attitude. This then spills over into the physical world through action known as discrimination.
While stereotyping is an act of bias, an inclination or preference either for or against an individual or group that interferes with impartial judgment, anti-bias is an active commitment to challenge prejudice, stereotyping and all forms of discrimination.
Some general guidelines for responding to bias include claiming your personal power and your spirit voice. A warrior for good in this day and age must first ground herself within her body before taking action. “Take a knee,” as they say, and create a prayer from your heart. Go ahead and shout a quick battle cry as you consciously ground yourself within Mother Earth. Imagine releasing toxins from your body into the soil to be healed, transmuted and recycled into the energy that spins the world.
Inhale deeply as you take from your Earth Mother what you need to stand tall and strong. Like the trees, stand now and reach for the sky. Bravely commune with the Creator on your own terms, become aware of the presence of the Great Spirit. Blow air quickly and forcefully into your hand, breath is spirit.
Allow the Great Spirit to breathe in your direction now as you prepare for battle. Come into your body and claim dominion over your mind. Be aware of yourself from head to toe. Activate your true spirit, clear your mind and energize your body as you surrender and pledge your service along the path of light.
Ask the Spirit of Peace to guide you as you use specific criteria and factual information in order to determine whether or not a situation should be perceived as biased. Points of view differ about what constitutes bias but let the Great Spirit be your guide. Align with peace.
Ask to be led to learn appropriate intervention strategies to address incidents. May your spirit effectively communicate behavioral expectations that adhere to respect for life. A warrior takes responsibility for her own behavior and understands that biased behavior has an impact on people, institutions and environments.
Consider options for intervention. Do some research and think about the ways you can present your concerns. Consider the appropriate time to try to intervene and how the intervention might affect the personal safety of everyone involved.
Be knowledgeable about relevant policies and procedures. If policies are inadequate it may be time to review them with the appropriate parties. If the behavior constitutes a hate crime or is in violation of civil rights, appropriate sanctions should follow. Be prepared to take action. Silence or inaction may be construed as complicity.
Know what your intentions are, as your intentions will direct the outcome of the interaction. Do you, for example, want to bring the issue to light and/or assist the individual or institution in understanding that their behavior violates the law? It is more powerful to start from an assumption of good will. Be aware that some people act out of ignorance and/or will respond defensively when told their behavior is perceived as biased.
A warrior has sharp listening skills and observes the situation before she starts the conversation by asserting her commitment to her relationship with peace. A skilled peacekeeper communicates concerns without accusatory or attacking language. They can assist offensive individuals or organizations in understanding that jokes, slurs, discriminatory behavior, and stereotypes are not minor incidents to the ones who are on the receiving end and never minimize the situation.
The battle will be won when individual differences are valued and even celebrated among all our relations. Through the work of healers in the battlefields theses mental constructs or thoughts can be brought to the light of truth.
“When the wisdom of the Grandmothers is finally heard and respected, the world will heal.” – Native American Proverb