Alice’s Implicit Bias Reflection – ESEM150

I took 3 Implicit Association Tests: Gender-Career, Age, and Race. The results of these tests do not surprise me, but they do evoke a question that makes me think.
Before taking these tests, I have already known that though I try to eliminate all prejudices, I have many implicit biases. Those biases are gradually formed in my younger day by the value that my community, my nation uphold, by the people around me, and by the media references which I was exposed to.
The 1st test I took gives me the result that I associate male with career and female with family. Though I believe that men and women are equal, I know that deep inside I still believe that there are things that are meant to describe women and things meant to describe men. If this order is reversed, it will either make me feel uncomfortable, unnatural. It could also make me judge people in wrong ways. For example, I see men as incapable if they are not employed, but I do not necessarily see that if a woman is unemployed. If I see a businesswoman, though I am in awe at her success, I still feel it is somehow abnormal.
The 2nd test I took say I preference young people over old people. I strongly believe that this preference comes from my personal experience of living with my grandparents. The difference between generation is so large that sometimes it leaves me stunned and confused. The last few decades have brought a significant change unlike ever before in the history of Vietnam(my home country). The globalization has brought information, knowledges that are unprecedented and the young people started having a voice, a control over their life, moral rules started to lessen, and some value disappeared. Though I understand that old people have much wisdom, it is hard to communicate with them when they are holding the view that they are superior. This one small hinder blocks me from making real conversation without the use of complex skill of indication and extreme delicacy.
The 3rd test I took is about race: black vs. white. I am Asian, and I live in a country where black or white people are rare. Since a young age, I have been exposed to the image of foreign countries, foreign people and in my memory, they are all white. The country of white people is often associated with high technology, civilized community. It was later in my education that I learn about Africa and people of different skin color. Though I am not white, white skin is more normal to me. Not only that, in my community, whiter skin is considered desirable as it shows one’s affluence and the media loves to show an image of beauty with white as snow skin. Black skin is considered to associate with hardship in life. It was only till I saw pictures of black models that I realized black is just as beautiful as white.
These biases affect my judgments, actions in everyday life. Sometimes, without realizing, I am discriminating against others. To change my bias, the solution I have tried is to get to know more about the people you do not prefer, get to know them, understand how they think and why; always make an effort to be fair to everyone. I tried this method not to discriminate the LGBT community, and in the end, I see that the differences I once thought there were are just differences I made up since everybody is unique, difference, why should I dwell on that and judge other when I know just one fact about them. I think this is the most straightforward method to eliminate bias.

Alice’s Self-reflection__ESEM 150: The Perfect Human

When signing up for this seminar: The Perfect Human, I was afraid that I would not do well or be able to learn because of the language barrier, and my shyness. However, more than one month after starting this course, I believe I am doing well.

This seminar is my first seminar and the first time I got the opportunity to critically think and express my opinions on a subject that interests me. In the beginning, I did struggle a bit with raising my views and contributing to discussions. I was hard for me to come up with ideas or questions to speak during discussions. Also, I was afraid of saying something stupid. But I decided to try my best and now, I see that I can comfortably participate in discussions. Another improvement I have made during this class is my writing skill. Through the reflections and paper, I am building up my writing skills and confidence.

I am currently spending about 1.5 hours prepping for each class. For reflections, I spend a minimum of 4 hours to write and edit. The most time and effort I have devoted to this course is on the Brave New World paper. I started this paper before it was assigned and it took me more than 14 hours to write drafts. In general, I spend a large distribution of my studying time in this class. All of these time and effort reflects on the results I received: I got higher grades than I do in other classes. Furthermore, the skills and information I absorbed in this class are significant. I learned how to engage in conversation, develop and support my opinions. I also got to hear a variety of ideas on matters that open up my perspective.

I have only asked questions when I don’t understand a scientific concept. I do realize that I should have asked my classmates more questions about their opinions to gain more insight on how different people see things.

I think I am using resources wisely. I not only read but also take note on all the readings and sometimes the discussion we have in class. I write down ideas that spontaneously appear in class discussions for later conversations or essays. The online resources (Learn.Genetics, Purdue OWL, Grammarly) increase my comprehension and improve my writing. The writing center guides me on expressing my idea and fixes my grammar errors. Also, the comment I receive on previous assignment incorporate with another class I am taking ACEN 100 is helping me express my idea better.

I do review my work for possible errors. I also run my writing assignments through Grammarly to catch errors I did not notice. I have fixed some repeating mistakes. I can pay more attention to finding previous mistakes when editing a new assignment. However, I am searching for a better way to not make the same mistake again. After the Brave New World paper, I also learn to space a few days between the revision and editing period not to be overwhelmed by my work.

I am contented and proud of my performance and work in the course so far. But I do think that I can do better than this by doing the above suggestions: actively participating in class, improving simple writing mistakes.

Alice’s Reflection 2 – ESEM 150: The Perfect Human

Though the movie X-Men is based on science fiction, it brings up many interesting issues that are similar to our world today. In the film, some over-aggressive mutants’ actions have made human more scared of them. Similarly, in our world, the act of Islam terrorist has created Islamophobia. The choice of William Stryker is an excellent example of the mind set of discrimination against people who are different.

The discrimination against Muslim does not start after the September 11 attacks, but this event has since inflated the discrimination. There is no arguing that the September 11 attacks and activities of terrorists are inhumane and horrifying. They stir up fear inside the public. The public then gradually transform the fear into hatred. However, the terrorists and Muslim around the world are different. So, we must ask ourselves why. Why do we associate all Muslim in the world with terrorists?

In my opinion, the fear spread by the terrorist has fogged people’s judgment. They are so afraid of these actions that an impression is imprinted on their subconscious. Thus, their minds naturally associate two distinct concepts: Muslim and terrorist. Their fears then hinder them from trying find and understand the difference between the terrorists’ idea and a genuine teaching of Islam. The terrorists have a twisted perspective of true Islam, and they are trying to impose this point of view on other by killing, in contrast to the teaching of Islam, like all other religion, which is to care for other and create peace in the world. People’s fear kept them from seeing this fact.

People are scared that the terrorist will kill them. Thus, as a coping mechanism, people gradually turn fear into hatred. This hatred then turns to prejudice against all Muslim, because it is easier for us to blame other, to hurt other so that we can feel assured.

As mentioned before, discrimination against Muslim is not only caused by the terrorist’s activities but also because how different they are. We are afraid of what we don’t understand. If we can’t understand something, we have the sense that this thing can take control over us and somehow affect the stability of our life. We want the world around us to be as we know it, understand it. If something different comes along, we try to push them away to eliminate the uneasy feelings. We find a simple way is to deny them without knowing more. This desire to control, desire for power is the root of fear.

Similarly, in the movie X-Men, people are discriminating against mutants because they are different, not normal. They are not easy to control as ordinary people. Thus, even if there is a slight chance that they might rise and take power away from non-mutants, non-mutants will do anything to hold on to their stability. I believe this is the core of William Stryker’s view.

Right from early life, Stryker has been anti-mutant. His view that mutants and non-mutants are at war can be traced back to his experience. Stryker is a man who had been through war. The horrifying of war partially built his idea of controlling or killing mutants as their ability is superior to non-mutants. Therefore, because of the difference, he sees them not as human but as a new threatening species that need to be fix or control.

How ironic life is that his son is a mutant and he is the one who passes on the gene to his son. He was so overwhelmed by this fact that he tries to get his son fix. When he started to accept his son as a mutant, it was already too late. His son then seeing his mutant ability as a curse drove his mother crazy and killed hers. This incident is fate’s cruel joke. As the same time, it can also be seen as cause and effect. Stryker had done horrible thing to mutants, and now he is living in a nightmare made by a special mutant – his son. Fate set him up, throw at him the consequence of his action. There is nothing he can do to change this. But what he does to deal with this is what matter.

In the movie, his grief has consumed him and transform into anger as a coping mechanism. His action is his way of showing and relieving the pain he had felt. This incident is a chance for Stryker to change his way. He can exploit this hardship to do better. In my opinion, hardship can be painful and unbearable, but they also have the effect of pushing humanity forward. When you think about it, how can you no true pleasure without knowing pain. One may argue that true happiness can be achieved without pain or sorrow, but that is just superficial pleasure, they are tricking your sense into believing it. Pain allows us to appreciate more; pain can motivate us to act well.

He had choices. However, he chose to let this tragedy to magnify his hate for mutants.

Though Stryker’s action is inhumane and I don’t agree with them, I can have empathy with him as we can not judge what other people are really going through. We can only decide for ourselves. If I were put in his position, I can not guarantee that I will do differently than him. Maybe I will do something much worse. But in a perfect scenario, I can see that if he can move away from the grieve, take a step back and look at the situation; he can see that if his son has understood to love himself, as other mutants should, this disaster would not have happened. Using this as a motivation, he can help other mutants to be able to be themselves.

In conclusion, we are continuously being hindered by our belief that everything is under our control, that everything different from our knowledge is a threat to happiness. In the case of Islamophobia or William Stryker, this belief has caused discrimination and prejudice; thus, creating pain for others. In our world, discrimination, prejudice is continuously happening and renewing. To remove them, we need to think back to ourselves, learning and renewing our knowledge about the world, about how to accept differences.