Implicit Bias and Brave Spaces

Not Again.

This is my second time taking two implicit bias tests in a row. Both times I took the disability test the second time. Both times my results indicated a strong preference for abled bodies of disabled bodies. How can this be?

I’m disabled. I was born with birth defects and I have a chronic illness. Almost all of my friends have disabilities. Disability Community, or Crip Community, as I lovingly call it, is my home. I feel fully alive when I spend time with my friends who talk about their disabilities. The Ten Principles of Disability Justice speak truth into my disabled existence.


Can I really breathe a sigh of relief?

This is my first time taking the transgender implicit bias test. My result said I have no automatic preference between cisgender people and transgender people. Is this true?

I only have a handful of relationships with transgender folx. This past year I purposely learned more about transgender oppression. The intentional societal and political suppression of transgender people horrifies me.

But, still. Can one test tell me I have no bias toward a marginalized group? Especially when that group is systemically oppressed? I doubt it.

My relief will come when all marginalized folx experience “collective liberation” together. Until then, I will continue to question my biases.


Brave spaces.

I first heard the term “brave space” in one of my courses last fall. My classmate said it is impossible to create a space free of risk. I resonated with her comment and have since tried to embrace the idea of creating brave spaces when I lead groups.

When I volunteered as a Graduate Teaching Assistant last spring, I invited students to take risks. I encouraged students to share their stories and to ask each other questions. Although I did not use the word courage, like Arao and Clemens (2013), my call to take risks invited students to embrace courage.

I strive to create inclusive classroom environments. However, I would be lying if I told my students my class was a safe space, free of risks. Rather, I hope to ask my students to help me define a brave space together. I hope to establish ground rules with students that allow space for risk taking.

On the flip side, I also want my future students to know they are free to take care of themselves. If and when difficult conversations arise in a class, I hope my students will know they are free to disengage if needed. My future brave spaces will allow for flexibility and time for self-care.



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