Awareness is not enough.  Implicit bias makes it acceptable to discriminate against people for race but also for size, sexual orientation, age and abilities.  You may have a hard time identifying with bias based on skin color, but maybe you’re in one of the other groups that have been discriminated against.  Remember, if there isn’t justice for all, there won’t be justice for any.  

To learn more about my personal experiences with historical trauma and how it impacted my work with people with eating disorders and addictions, see my #TEDxPleasantGrove talk on Intergenerational trauma here:
To schedule a free consult with Dr. Ross –
*To test yourself for implicit bias, you can take the Implicit Association Test
*Jane Elliott’s brown-eyed / blue-eyed experiment:


Hi everyone! Dr. Carolyn here and today we have Episode #57: You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know. I hope that intrigues you and that you’ll stay tuned.

So I think most of you will agree that this is a very weird and strange time in our country and in the world. In my little corner of the world I got some good news, I was able to return to working out with my personal trainer finally, after months of them being closed, but also after months of ongoing recovery from COVID-19, which has been very very taken a lot longer than I expected. It’s still experiencing some fatigue and brain fog and a few other things. But I feel like, and I hope that I’m on the mend and I hope that if any of you have experienced this awful virus that you two are on the mend and that you’re keeping your families safe.

So today I just want to talk about some things that have been on my mind. With recent events does as an African American woman and as a physician, I felt the need to speak out and to be in sync with the protests about the devastating impact of racism, particularly against black Americans in our country. As a mother, I can’t, I just cannot tell you how heartbroken I am to see people like George Floyd and so many of the other young black men and young black women who have been shot and killed by the police, to see their deaths to see, I’m not gonna just go over every single incident, but I think, you know what I’m talking about heartbroken because I am a mother. And I’m heartbroken broken for those mothers who have lost sons and daughters, I myself have lost my middle son who, whose birthday was last week. He died as a consequence of his mental illness and I therefore, I have to say, I know how much it hurts to lose a child. And I can’t imagine. How much more, it hurts to know that your child was murdered.

So I hope you can join me in sending prayers to all of those mothers, because I think that’s a point at which we can all connect that no matter who our kids are, where they are, what they’re doing, we don’t want them to be killed. So on human level, I feel like we’re being called to recognize that the ongoing oppression of black Americans, as well as native Americans, Latinx and other people of color hurts, not just people of color, but people in other marginalized communities and indeed, it hurts all Americans. So we have an opportunity to move beyond the politics of all of this and really to dig deeper into our hearts, to stand in our own humanity, to make the changes that have impacted all of us. So I know for me, I’ve been struck by a couple of things of late, I’m not sure if any of you have watched the series Little Fires Everywhere with Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. What an incredible show. I know it didn’t get the greatest praise from the, you know, the critics. But one thing that struck me about the show, which is on Netflix. They say it’s about motherhood and indeed it is, but it’s also about race and class and it shows multiple examples of the kinds of things that black people in America and in many other countries have to go through on a day to day basis, what we used to call micro aggressions and that that name is, you know, all of the language around racism is now being changed quite rapidly. So, um, but microaggressions is now being called racial abuse. So I’m just going to give you a few examples of that and if you want to see it in graphic detail, watch that series Little Fires Everywhere. Really, really interesting. So here’s some examples of racial abuse that white people and leash on black people, wherever we go day after day. And this is from the book another thing I’ve been looking at the book by Ebrum X. Kendi called How to be an Anti-Racist. So he says, here’s some examples of racial abuse, a white woman grabs her purse when a black person sits next to her. The seat next to a black person stays empty on a crowded bus. A white woman calls the cops at the side of black people, barbecuing in the park or birdwatching, as we saw recently. White people telling us that our firmness is anger and asking, why are you so angry all the time? Or that our practice talents are natural. So you didn’t know, you have to come by that basketball expertise by practicing you just come by naturally, which of course is not true. Another example mistaking us for the only other black person around. Calling the cops on our children for selling lemonade on the street. Assuming we are the help, assuming the help isn’t brilliant asking us questions about the entire black race. so that we have to be representatives for our entire race. Not giving us the benefit of the doubt and calling the cops on us for running down the street or jogging as you saw again recently. So besides the Little Fires Everywhere, I can just really strongly recommend Kennedy’s book how to be an anti-racist and he has some important definitions. He defines re a racist as one who is supporting a racist policy through their actions, or inactions, or expressing a racist idea. And again, the language is changing no longer is the opposite of being a racist. Being able to say, well, I’m not a racist or I’m not a non-racist. It’s really about really taking a stance and stronger and saying I’m an antiracist and he defines anti-racist is one who is supporting an antiracist policy through their actions orr expressing an anti-racist idea. So I hope you can see the subtle differences there that, you know, many people of good intention has strived to be, to think of themselves as not racist. But if you’re really going to be an antiracist it’s coming forward and supporting anti-racist policies, ideas, and actions.

So one of the other things, I saw recently is Something by John Stewart, who talks about makes a distinction at this time in our history is not just about the police. And I think it’s a mistake to make everything about the police although a lot is about the police. But John Stewart says the police are a reflection of a society. They’re not a rogue alien organization that came down to trust the black community. They’re enforcing segregation. Segregation is legally over, but it never ended. The police are in some respects of border patrol and they patrol the border between the two Americas. We have that, so that the rest of us don’t have to deal with it. Then that situation erupts and we express our shock and indignation. But if we don’t address the anguish of a people, the pain of being a people who built this country through forced labor, people say “I’m tired of everything being about race”. Well, imagine how exhausting it is to live that. So that was from an interview in the New York Times with John Stewart, who used to be the host of the daily show. So there’s a lot of information out there and I hope you are finding and looking for information that is anti-racist that challenges all of us. Not just white people, not just, you know, uh, Hispanic, Latinx, but all of us, including black people, because all of us have biases, whether they’re explicit or implicit.

So many people are waking up to the need to understand and acknowledge all aspects of bias and racism. We’re being called to be a, not be a non-racist, but again, to be an anti-racist. So implicit bias is something that many of you listening may be able to identify with even more implicit bias exists when people unconsciously hold attitudes towards others or associate stereotypes with them. So, to clarify implicit bias can form about race, age, sexual orientation, height, weight, and so much more. Vox News, that’s Vox with a V says you can think of it as “thoughts about people you didn’t know, you even had” so racist beliefs or any beliefs, thoughts, or actions that cause inequity or in which you see one person or group of people as inferior to another. While it’s normal to have biases, we live in a biased society, we see biased ads on TV, we experience bias and in schools and how certain historical events are presented in our educational system. Biases it is normal, but biases become harmful when they cause us to act unfairly, for example, towards a client or to overestimate or set unrealistic expectations of a friend or someone in your community or a client.

Now those of you who are living in larger bodies, make experience implicit bias due to weight stigma. So that’s one of the reasons I’m bringing it up. I just want to kind of give you an example of how bias, can affect you and that’s relating to implicit bias around weight. So, in general, the implicit bias can keep us from understanding and relating to people who are not like us. Who we consider to be different or the other, some other ways in which implicit biases can show up, include ways that people living in larger bodies are treated in our society. So for example, research has shown that sadly medical professionals are the number two source of implicit bias and weight stigma, often ignoring overall medical issues while over focusing on weight. So you may be asking yourself, well, who’s the number one? Well, even more sadly, it’s friends and family. But medical professionals, also have a lot of race biases and that is affecting the health of, you know, people of color, but it also affects people living in larger bodies. That’s a weight bias. Other research has shown that there’s implicit bias in the assumption that many people in society have that people living in larger bodies are, this is the stereotype they’re lazy, they’re not active, they’re not as intelligent and this has a tremendous impact on jobs and educational opportunities and much more.

So just imagine just briefly being a woman of color living in a larger body and now you have two sources of bias that are used against you. And finally research has shown obese children are more likely to be assumed by teachers to be less intelligent than slim children. So it starts very, very early. We know that children as young as seven or eight years old have bias against people of color and we know that childrenas young as three years old, don’t want to play with toys that show, you know, a person living in a larger body. So these biases start very, very young and persist throughout a person’s life, unless they’re willing to dig deeper and wake up to and become more aware of their bias. So we know that implicit weight bias has gone up from 75 to 81% of respondents in a study showing a bias against heavier people. If you think of how implicit bias relating to size may have affected you or people you care about, then that may give you some idea about how implicit racial bias or bias related to even sexual orientation may feel. And again, there’s a lot of insert intersectionality around this that someone can be gay or lesbian, be a person of color and be living in a larger body. And those are kind of bias is then compounded. But we do know that  bias can be changed. Some of the ways in which your perspective can be changed are things like I’ve already talked about and, you know, I am African American, but I too am educating or reeducating myself or digging deeper into my own sources of bias, my own internalized racism, which means that just like if you’re living in a larger body, you may have internalized the bias against people living in larger bodies and that may fuel your repetitive yoyo, dieting, and the feeling that you can’t be healthy without losing weight and so on, that’s an example of internalized bias. While there’s also internalized bias that you’ll see and people of color who have bought into or been exposed and adapted in order to fit in different racist beliefs I should say. So we all have to look at this and really dig deep again, to find out what is. A way to become more aware and a way to change our behaviors and our perspectives. So one way is just simply having contact with people about whom you have bias can reduce it. This does not mean that you go looking for someone, one, a black person to be friend, or that you go up to the only black person who works in your office and ask them to interpret all of what’s going on in the world today. That’s not their job, that’s your job to educate yourself about what’s going on in the world.

And there’s, I mean, more than ever before, there’s so many good sources of education I know Barnes and noble has highlighted books about racism over the past few months. And this month, which ispride month. They are highlighting books about LGBT+ issues. But a second way you can work on changing your perspective is just what I’ve been talking about, which is educating yourself. So you know, I talked about the interview and New York Times, one of the things that influenced me last year, even before George Ford was killed and all the protests began is the New York Times a series it’s called 1619. 1619 is the New York times series and it goes back to in every area of life. How slavery has been a part of American, the development of America from music to, you know, finance, to the stock market it’s pretty amazing. So that’s still available online and I’ve, I’m going to list in the show notes here, some of the resources that might be helpful for you.

That third thing you can do to shift your perspective is considering contrasting viewpoint and recognizing multiple perspectives can reduce automatic implicit bias. So if you regularly listen to one news station, whether it be liberal or conservative, try checking out some of the other sources of news. It’s just really important. So the bottom line is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. I saw a sign of one of the protesters who happen to be white and she said something like if my son had gone out jogging and was killed for no other reason than the color of his skin, I would be angry. I would be just as angry or more angry or I would be protesting now to something along those lines. So can you put yourself in the position of these mothers who have lost their children. Can you put yourself in the position of black people in America who are experiencing racial abuse on a day to day basis? Maybe things that you don’t think are abusive but hit to the core or are like a stab in the heart for people of color. But awareness is not enough we know that implicit bias makes it acceptable to discriminate against people for race, but also for size, sexual orientation, age and abilities. You may have a hard time identifying with bias based on skin color, but maybe you’re in one of the other groups that has been discriminated against.

Just remember if there isn’t justice for all, there won’t be justice for anyone. So I hope this has been helpful and I hope the resources that I’ve listed are including my TEDx pleasant Grove talk about historical trauma and how it affected my family and how it effects affected my work with people with eating disorders and addictions. That will also be in the show notes.

So as always, we’d love to hear from you. I will put my email address in the show notes, feel free to contact to me with any comments you have, any insights you’re having, any resources that you’re finding particularly helpful so that I can pass those along. So I wanted to also ask you to do a review, leave a review for the podcast. And I want to just do a little humble bragging, this Carolyn Coker Ross, MD Podcasts was selected as number one in the Top Five Food Addiction Podcast in 2020 by Feed Spot. So, we were a number one regarding food addiction podcasts.

So, alright, well until next time, this is dr. Carolyn Coker, Ross I’m signing off, stay safe, take care of yourself and I’ll talk to you next time.