I am a leader in the U.S. Navy, and I am unconsciously biased—that is, I subconsciously harbor bias as a result of my societal upbringing and collective life experiences. I do not think or feel I am biased against those who are unlike me, and I am not aware of any actions I have done or words I have written or said that could have been perceived as biased. But this does not remove the fact that I am a member of the dominant group in a society suffering from institutionalized and historically ingrained bias.
I also am not alone in this condition; it affects us all—although its admission is socially unmentionable. Only by acknowledging and educating ourselves on the origin and consequences of unconscious bias can we progress toward its elimination and fulfill the promise of equality.
Response to the Death of George Floyd
Streamed around the world on an unending, tortuous loop, the death of George Floyd left a profound mark on the world’s social conscious. The Department of Defense was not alone in responding, nor was it first. Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper waited more than a week.
1. Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper, “Message to the Department – Support to Civil Authorities,” 2 June 2020.
2. Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Jonathan Rath Hoffman, “Statement on Support to Civil Authorities,” 2 June 2020.
3. ADM Michael Gilday, USN, “CNO Message to Sailors,” 3 June 2020.
4. Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper, “Message to the Force on DOD Diversity and Inclusiveness,” 18 June 2020.
5. ADM Michael Gilday, USN, “One Team, One Navy,” 25 June 2020.
6. Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper, “Immediate Actions to Address Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity in the Military Services,” 14 July 2020.
7. Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper, “Public Display or Depiction of Flags in the Department of Defense,” 16 July 2020.
8. Esper, “Immediate Actions to Address Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity.”
9. Courtney L. McCluney et al., “The Costs of Code-Switching,” Harvard Business Review, 15 November 2019.
10. Cory Collins, “What is White Privilege, Really?” Teaching Tolerance, no. 60, (Fall 2018).
11. Robin DiAngelo, “What’s My Complicity? Talking White Fragility With Robin DiAngelo,” Teaching Tolerance, no. 62 (Summer 2019).
12. Simba Runyowa, “Microaggressions Matter: They May Not Always Be Ill-Intentioned, But the Slights Illuminate Deeper Problems in America,” The Atlantic, 18 September 2015.
13. This “Do” and “Don’t” lists were compiled from the following sources: Laura Morgan Roberts and Ella F. Washington, “U.S. Businesses Must Take Meaningful Action Against Racism,” Harvard Business Review, 1 June 2020; Laura Morgan Roberts et al., “How U.S. Companies Can Support Employees of Color Through the Pandemic,” Harvard Business Review, 22 May 2020; Kira Hudson Banks and Richard Harvey, “Is Your Company Actually Fighting Racism, or Just Talking About It?” Harvard Business Review, 11 June 2020; Tsedale M. Melaku and Angie Beeman, “Academia Isn’t a Safe Haven for Conversations About Race and Racism,” Harvard Business Review, 25 June 2020; Ben Hecht, “Moving Beyond Diversity Toward Racial Equity,” Harvard Business Review, 16 June 2020; Stephanie Creary, “How to Be a Better Ally to Your Black Colleagues,” Harvard Business Review, 8 July 2020; Aiko Bethea, “What Black Employee Resource Groups Need Right Now,” Harvard Business Review, 29 June 2020; and Daisy Auger-Dominguez, “Getting Over Your Fear of Talking About Diversity,” Harvard Business Review, 8 November 2019.