All Asians are Bad Drivers: Exploring Unconscious Bias and Racial Stereotypes

Asian people do not know how to drive. Jewish people are cheap. Immigrants come here and reap the benefits of our hard work.

All of these statements are false, but are formulated and concretized within society as truths. This is what makes racism so dangerous and hard to diminish. We make snap decisions on a person, based simply on the colour of their skin, and then look for proof to valid assumptions.

Invisible racism occurs really naturally and unless you dissect society, it can appear as though racism does not influence major aspects of everyday life.

An example of invisible racism is how everyone in your work environment may be predominately white and how people of colour seem to never get hired for job opportunities. It would appear that the hiring process is fair and unbiased, but it is not, because it geared for certain people to prosper and others to fail.

“Many people are unaware of the biases that influence their actions and can engage in discriminatory acts without any conscious intent” (Selmi, 2017, p. 1).

Often, we don’t know we are making snap decisions, based on colour, because it happens so naturally and is well sewn into the fabric of our society.

Think about your life, the people you engage with and the groups of people who are not a part of your life. Why is that? How have you come so far in life without getting to know certain types or communities of people? How is unconscious bias influencing who you interact with?

“Canadians widely believe their country to be a peaceful, multicultural country without racism” (Henry, 2017).

People often say that racism is not an issue within the Canadian community, but just because we are not dealing with overt racism does not mean we can close the book and say we have successfully eradicated racial issues.

If you want to challenge me, do some research. See how much the average Canadian earns and the lifestyle they are able to afford, then compare it to the average person of colour’s experience in Canada.

See what racial jokes and assumptions are prevalent in culture and how they are meant to appear harmless, but actually are part of a powerful process to suppress minority groups. Often, it is assumed that jokes or stereotypes about racial minorities are not harmful, but they are really damaging. By not addressing these stereotypes or by playing along, we are allowing these barriers for minority groups to exist and perpetuate false beliefs.

“We are more likely to notice when a bad driver is Asian simply because we expect bad drivers to be Asian, thus reinforcing the stereotype” (Philip, 2010). We need to educate ourselves with the language, so that we can combat these ideas because they hurt us all. The worst thing we can do is ignore or deny these feelings, pretend they do not exist, and let them continually direct and control our society.

The next time you see a poor driver on the road, instead of trying to ignore your bias, try to learn where your bias comes from, how it promotes a society of success for people of privilege and continually keeps people of colour in lower positions in society.

References

Henry, A. (2017). Dear white people, wake up: Canada is racist. The Conversation. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/dear-white-people-wake-up-canada-is-racist-83124

Philip. (2010). Chinky or Not Chinky: Are Asians Bad Drivers? YOMYOMF. Retrieved from http://www.yomyomf.com/chinky-or-not-chinky-are-asians-bad-drivers/

Selmi, M. (2017). The Paradox of Implicit Bias and a Plea for a New Narrative. GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper №2017–63. Retrieved from https://scholarship.law.gwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.ca/&httpsredir=1&article=2558&context=faculty_publications