Bias primarily comes from the tendency to form cultural groups; like-minded people cluster together in the safety of collectives.
That quality of togetherness simultaneously fosters the process of othering, as soon as we label people as one of ‘us’ we exclude others from that ‘us’.
The problem with collectives is that individuals within the organisation will all have different visions within the overarching values of the group. This differentiation leads to nothing but dissent; the only way a collective hold together is through that process of othering.
As a child growing up in the Black Country, my father was keen to get me out and into the wild (just don’t ask). He found it in his wisdom to enrol me to the local scout group. Trust me this was not a typical ethnic activity, imagine a chocolate coloured mini version of myself in the cubs wondering why all the adults were named after animals in Hindi (colonialist jungle book characters) with a short neckerchief and woggle. Keep that thought I’m walking back to the line and:
Me: Excuse me Johny
*Johny moves out of my paths*
Johny’s Mother: Don’t do that – we have already given up everything to this lot.
As a PoC you sometimes find yourself in troublesome places, this was not a space for a child of colour, you can imagine what the environment was like if that’s what the parents of my peers were openly saying.
That was until scout/cub trip to an international jamboree; I remember trying to get my coins out of my NatWest piggy bank without damaging it, it ended up being the scariest experience of our young and short existences.
In a strange place, we ended up in a part of the camp with older European boys. As children, we were completely lost, here the street smart we earned in the Black Country meant absolutely nothing.
Through the bullying that week, no matter how horrible the fear was for us, it was a saving grace that came for me. In the midst, of the fear came solidarity, I was no longer the other because there was another ‘other’.
The brief introduction of an oppressive force banded this ragtag bunch of children together, looking back this is ended up fantastic week. For one of the first times ever, I was judged as a peer and treated like an equal.
Through interrogating my childhood experiences with an adult lens, bias can be disrupted through the acceptance of an ‘other’, was it the fear or the other? Or was it an act of solidarity?
This phenomenon provides all the solutions necessary for equity, let’s just band together across economic means and upbringing and other those below us, men should band together and other women, melanin level to other, etc. The process of mass othering is how we end up with classism, sexism and racism, etc. the process is not a solution.
The process describes the reasons behind the othering by pupils as well as the actions of adults. There are ways to achieve equity, and this is just not one of them. Othering only leads to more hate.