I had a really nice conversation with a friend of mine recently about how people often have a trouble noticing their own biases against other people.
We talked a lot about how each of us were brought up in upper middle class households. We both have highly educated parents. And we both have a strong bias against people we consider to be in a lower socio-economic class than we are. I brought this up because recently I picked up a book at work called White Trash Etiquette because I thought it would be funny. And it *is* funny to me. My bias against such people makes the jokes funny. I mean, I love the joke about how tornados and white trash divorces are the same (either way, someone is losing a trailer and yes I am laughing RIGHT NOW). I have a beer bottle in my bushes and I often joke about it being my "white trash" accessory.
This particular bias is very acceptable in our group of peers. When someone makes a joke about trailer trash, I think it is funny. I laugh. When someone goes on a rant about the "goddamn Bush voting trailer trash" there is a part of me deep down that buys the stereotype. This is true even though I know a lot of people to do or have lived in mobile homes and not a SINGLE one fits my stereotype. I do this even though since I have been the butt of many fat jokes and stereotypes, I know how hurtful such behavior can be.
I am not sure what to do about it. I think the world would be a better place if people didnt have such biases. My friend suggested that even though it might be impossible to totally get rid of even the biases in ourselves that we have noticed (never mind the ones we havent noticed yet and I am sure there are plenty), we can do our best not to give such messages to the next generation. Then she said that is why she wont allow the use of the phrase "trailer trash" in her house or around her kids. It makes sense to me. So I am going to pay closer attention to what I say and think and I will do my best to spot instances where I see subtle bias in the media.