“I’m here today to make a proposal and to pose a challenge to the people of this country,” Crosby writes. “My proposal is to engage in a conversation. My challenge – to myself, and others – is to reverse the flow of the river of implicit bias running through this country.”
Crosby points those interested to start by taking Harvard’s implicit-association test (IAC), called Project Implicit, to better recognize and understand their own biases. The online survey measures implicit bias through a series of questions where users self report attitudes and beliefs, without providing personally identifiable information. Project Implicit also analyzes the data to compare possible differences among groups of participants.
This spring, Crosby, now 28, will be participating in a student-faculty forum at his alma mater, Stanford University. He writes, “I want to take my experience and use it as an example for change—change that leads to society where what happened to me is less likely to happen again to anyone. My desire is to also use my experience as a reminder of what can happen and have it serve as a constant catalyst to ask ourselves questions.”
STATEMENT OF DR. LAWRENCE CROSBY
Good morning. My name is Lawrence Crosby, and I’m here today to ask you to join me in identifying and reversing the effects of implicit bias in our society. I have just completed a three year journey to clear my name. But my journey is not finished. Today I am starting on the next leg of that journey.
Throughout my twenty-eight years on this Earth, I have tried to conduct myself in a responsible fashion. I thought, through hard work and following the rules of American society, I would earn the respect of others and be able to make a meaningful contribution to society as a scientist. I have been committed to treating people with respect and dignity. Throughout my life, I have respected and followed the rules, whether they were the rules of the road or the rules of physics. I have not presumed that certain people or ethnic groups will act in a certain way. I have shunned stereotypes, choosing, instead, to evaluate each individual as the person that they are. Every day I remind myself not to judge a book by its cover and not to judge a person by their color, their age, gender, or ethnicity.
I want to take my experience and use it as an example for change—change that leads to society where what happened to me is less likely to happen again to anyone. My desire is to also use my experience as a reminder of what can happen and have it serve as a constant catalyst to ask ourselves questions. Questions such as:
These are just four questions that I hope we are all inspired to ask ourselves as a consequence of the experience that I am here today to share with you. While not an exhaustive list, I believe that they are a start–a beginning that leads to answers, initiatives, and solutions.
A conversation is a two-way communication. Each person speaks and each person listens. A conversation does not occur by one person giving orders or using violence rather than listening.
In October 2015, I wasn’t afforded an opportunity to engage in a conversation. There was no communication. There were orders and violence. I truly believe that all of this could have been prevented if I had been able to engage in a conversation at any number of points.
Proposal and challenges
I’m here today to make a proposal and to pose a challenge to the people of this country. My proposal is to engage in a conversation. My challenge – to myself, and others – is to reverse the flow of the river of implicit bias running through this country. First, identify it. It may not happen in a day, or a year, or even our lifetimes. But now is as good a day to start as any.
I invite all of you to join me to have a conversation in testing ourselves, to see if we understand and recognize implicit bias. Please go to implicit.harvard.edu and take the test with me https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html (or Google “implicit bias” and “Harvard”).
After you have explored this assessment, we can have a conversation together with our neighbors, coworkers, spouses, friends, to lift up social consciousness and change the way we look and feel about each other.
I would like to start by educating the educators. Not that I can teach anyone, as I’m not an expert, but I will ask them to listen. This spring, I will return to my alma mater, Stanford, to engage a forum with students and faculty. I invite you all to join that forum. I will share my experience in hopes of preventing this from happening to other people.
Consider long-term solutions rather than short-term fixes. Raise awareness of the issue of implicit bias by police officers when dealing with minorities. I know it because I lived it. I am not saying that this is the only place that implicit bias exists. But it is as good a place as any to start the conversation.
I am not only presenting a challenge today, but extending an invitation. I have invited experts in the fields of law, law enforcement, media relations, online reputation management and forensic animation to become part of this initiative. I have invited Dennis Waller, an expert in law enforcement; Tom Shaer, an expert in media relations, Thomas Varghese, an expert in online reputation management and search engine optimization, and Scott Roder a forensic animator to become part of this initiative and, if possible, to be participants in the conversation.
I’m inviting everybody here to be a part of the conversation. To address the insidious nature of implicit bias, we need to engage in a dialogue about what it is and what the consequences are for our neighbors, friends, loved ones, teachers, students, and our society as a whole, and how we can recognize and prevent these biases from manifesting in negative consequences.
We cannot go backwards, only forwards. So let’s go forwards and make our communities, and the world, first a better place. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Now let our conversation begin.