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How to Confront Social Bias

[Referencing "A Coach’s Homophobic Taunt Forces Him to Reconsider the Weight of Words" New York Times, March 10, 2022]


1 - Someone catalyzes harm by doing something that exploits the social identity disadvantage of another person


“'Yeah, I’ll tell you,' Turner said with a laugh when he was asked about his conversation with the standout Oregon freshman Louis King in the postgame handshake line. 'I was saying, double team ‘Queen,’ to try to see if I could irritate him. And I did.'”


2 - People in a position to bear witness (would-be allies) do not avert their eyes, apologize for the offender, or worse, expect the target to accommodate and absorb - no matter the status of the offender.


"The homophobic and sexist taunts had embarrassed his school, angered colleagues and sparked a social-media tempest, with Martina Navratilova among those calling for his firing. Not only had Turner’s job prospects evaporated, but the one he had held with distinction at Irvine for nearly a decade was very much in jeopardy.


He’d even infuriated his wife, Elizabeth, a critical care physician, who wondered how her magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa husband could be such a blockhead."


3 - The offender gets over themselves, pushes past hubris, defensiveness, and cognitive dissonance, takes the hit and gets to work.


"Turner began to understand why his actions had been so hurtful when he received an angry text from Collins’s mother, Portia, whom he had always respected. Collins connected him to Cyd Zeigler, a founder of the website Outsports, who was an early critic, and Turner tried to repair relationships on campus by listening to how he had hurt others — including some gay members of the university’s athletic department."


4 - The offender exercises empathy.


“'The fear, stress, pressure that all these people had experienced is not something I would have ever been forced to consider that carefully,' Turner said. 'What I came away with was even greater admiration for the courage that anyone facing such a difficult choice or set of circumstances has to have.'”


5 - The offender commits to doing the long-term work they must do to be a better ally.


“I’m willing to take on some risk, but I don’t want to take on the risk of doing something like this again, so I’ve tried to be more aware of everything I say and try to catch myself. I’ve got to keep pressure on myself to be better.”


6 - Hopefully, the offender's community continues (lovingly, supportively, and unwaveringly) to hold them accountable.

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