How Semester One Made Me ‘Check’ Myself.

The values module last semester was a really eye-opening and thought provoking one for me. The very first lecture of the values unit is one that will stay in my head forever. I learned about the ‘unconscious’ bias that everyone holds within themselves, the reason why we all are – either a little or a lot – homophobic, racist, transphobic, sexist, or in any other way discriminatory of a specific group of people. You might be reading this and thinking, ‘I’m not any of those things!’, and you might well not be on a conscious level, but unconsciously you probably hold the same preconceived ideas about these groups that society has pushed us to think and probably never forget. That’s the thing, the unconscious bias creeps up on you when you don’t want it to, and it’s something you don’t have power over because it just happens and, before you know it, you’re trying to make yourself look like the opposite to your thoughts. We were shown a video of an Irish drag queen, Panti Noble, who addressed an audience at the theatre and spoke to them a little bit about the unconscious bias. He explained that after a nasty encounter while standing at a crossing, he would continuously ‘check’ himself to see what it was that made him stand out. He confessed that he hated himself for doing so, and he would start to rethink things and make himself try to seem less of himself just so that he could be protected from the opinions of other people who were acting homophobic towards him. He explained that “to grow up in a society that is overwhelmingly and stiflingly homophobic, and to somehow escape unscathed would be miraculous. So, I don’t hate you because you are homophobes. I actually admire you. I admire you because most of you are only a bit homophobic, and to be honest, considering the circumstances, that is pretty good going”, and I couldn’t have said it better myself. This was one of the most important moments of semester one for me, because it is something I think about, and will continue to think about, every day. I can use this to reflect on my actions in my profession, to decide if they were caused by my own unconscious bias, and how I can change this. Learning about it has made me understand myself a lot more, and the fact that society can have a huge effect on a persons’ unconscious bias makes me believe that I need to use my future position as a teacher, to change this for the people I might come across through my job. Although, I’m hoping that by that time, society is a lot more accepting of ALL people.

References/ background reading:

Panti Noble

Equality Challenge Unit

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