Column: Unconscious Bias, LGBTQ & More

June 15, 2022 | 11 Comments

[Opinion column written by Taj Donville-Outerbridge & Onuri Smith]

Unconscious bias is commonly defined as the ideals, attitudes, and associations we hold subconsciously that often greatly affect the way we see, feel, and interact with other individuals. While this natural phenomenon helps us make quick judgements about the world that help us survive, it is also limits the way we see others and can open a path for dangerous perceptions to influence our actions.

Negative stereotypes, villainizing myths, microaggressions, and overt prejudices all begin with unconscious bias and all lead to real life consequences for those on the receiving end. Two of these consequences that have significant trickle-down effects and are well-researched are structural violence and minority stress [these two terms are worth exploring for those interested].

Taj Donville-Outerbridge and Onuri Smith

Taj Donville-Outerbridge & Onuri Smith Bermuda June 2022

A large majority of the biases we have as members of current and past colonies stem from the systematic and hegemonic ideals designed to create separation and strip our communities of power. Homophobia is prime example. LGBTQ+ identities have existed since the beginning of human existence and were largely seen as a natural variation of the human experience, especially among the indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, and Asia. It is well documented that anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, beliefs, and laws only really began to enter our societies through colonialism and the subsequent spread of catholicism and proliferation of slavery.

Understanding our biases, where they come from, and doing the work to unlearn them is crucial to ensuring we can recreate an equitable society for all founded on mutual respect, understanding, and love. With that being said, below is a list of 11 thought-provoking questions.

While targeted towards those opposed to the human rights of LGBTQ+ people, or any marginalized group, these questions can be utilized in a few other ways. They can serve as conversation starters within LGBTQ+ and ally social circles. They can also be used by LGBTQ+ people and allies to challenge some of the ideas they themselves hold, or those held by friends and family.

Regardless of the context, it must be understood that there are no right or wrong answers. This is simply an exercise we can use to begin to examine some of our own ideals, begin to challenge and unlearn the colonial ideologies that have invaded our linages, and lastly, begin to deepen our understanding of one another with the hope that a mutual respect and love can be found.

  • Are all people deserving of the same level respect? Why? Why not?
  • Do you have a right to cast judgement on someone based on one of their identities, i.e., their race, class, gender, religion, disability status or sexual orientation? If so, why do you believe you have that right?
  • Why are some forms of prejudice accepted in our society and others aren’t? Why is systematic and overt homophobia largely socially acceptable in Bermuda but racism is not? What separates the LGBTQ+ identity from other identities like religion, race, or age?
  • Imagine if people with LGBTQ+ identities were the majority, wouldn’t you as a cisgender, heterosexual person want the same rights, privileges, and resources that LGBTQ+ advocates are currently fighting for?
  • What about LGBTQ+ people makes you feel uncomfortable? Why does seeing or hearing anything related to the LGBTQ+ community spark a negative reaction within you?
  • What is the basis of your bias towards LGBTQ+ people? Is it reasonably justifiable?
  • Do your negative feelings stem from projecting intrapersonal issues with your own sexual identity on to others?
  • Why is being LGBTQ+ considered inherently wrong or a negative attribute? Where are these ideals coming from?
  • If your issues with LGBTQ+ people stem from religion, do you think you have a right to force your beliefs onto others? And do you think you have a right to force others into following the rules of a religion that they do not necessarily subscribe to? Why?
  • If we, as Black people, really want to break free from our colonial identities and mindsets, shouldn’t we re-examine the significance of colonial ideas such as colourism and homophobia and why we still allow them to dominate the societies in which we are the majority? Why aren’t we seeking a return to our pre-colonial mindsets, where the uniqueness of LGBTQ+ people was respected and valued?
  • Why aren’t we doing everything we can to ensure that every young person, regardless of their identities, has a safe, nurturing, and equitable environment to develop and grow in?

- Taj Donville-Outerbridge is a Bermudian activist and student studying at Kings College London. Most importantly, however, he is human. He can be reached via Instagram @_king.taj_ or via email @ tdonvilleouterbridge@yahoo.com.

- Onuri Smith is an aspiring artist studying musical theatre in London and is the founder of Inclusion Bermuda [@inclusionbda on Instagram], an organization focused on empowering marginalized youth to step into their most authentic selves. He can be reached via email @ smithonuri7@gmail.com

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Comments (11)

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  1. question says:

    Nonsensical pseuodo-science.

  2. saud says:

    you guys need to ask your chosen government these questions?
    Why is the PLP so homophobic and racist? Is it revenge?

    • White Wash says:

      The oba didn’t support the LGBTQ community either and are racist in the eyes of many. Now sit on the 30-6 and keep complaining to keep it that way.

      • saud says:

        Once again, you’re admitting that the plp is no better than the racist UBP/OBA…meaning they’re more racist than the OBA.
        Got it.
        Thank you for supporting my point.

        • Eyes wide open says:

          I’m just glad you both understand that the ubpoba is a racist party. See what happens when you both work together.

          • saud says:

            Your reading comprehension is poor.

            The PLP is a blatantly homophobic party.
            You loudly and proudly bragged about it to the entire planet.
            1st world people laugh at you.
            Bermuda has always been 50 years behind the rest of society…now you’re 100 years behind. LMFAO

  3. Hey says:

    Good to for people to ask themselves why.when you say colonial, am reading that you are referring to religion as a colonial construct to maintain a social order. 10 commandments a classic example.

    • saud says:

      Why are the majority of born, true Bermudians so apt to follow these ridiculous religions? Is it a lack of education? Hatred for the minorities? What?

    • sandgrownan says:

      To be fair, religion predates colonial expansion (in the most commonly accepted sense of Europeans heading out and inflicting their will on others).

      However, your point about religion being a man-made method of control, from a time time when we were a poorly educated genetic relation of an ape of some sort is well taken and 100% correct.

  4. D says:

    Boom bye bye…

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