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Judge Sandra Hemphill Speaks to Forum

Tuesday, April 3, 2018  
Posted by: Savannah Zhang
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Thanks to everyone who came out for our February St. Louis Forum meeting! Our speaker, Judge Sandra Farragut-Hemphill of the St. Louis County Court, told her story of her work on Missouri’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Fairness to identify ways to make the judicial system and process more just. She then moved beyond that experience to share how this work could be applied to our society as a whole.

 

For Forum members who couldn’t make it, she shared several key insights with the group:

  • We all have implicit bias.  And what is that exactly?  According to the Kirwan Institute of the Study of Race and Ethnicity, implicit bias refers “to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.” We are not born with this bias; rather, we develop them as we receive direct and indirect messages from our families, communities, and the media that further ingrain these generalized stereotypes into our subconscious.
  • It impacts everything we do.  Even in a position characterized by fairness and justice, the Honorable Judge Hemphill admits that even she has seen her own implicit bias cloud her work at times.
  • The only way to fight bias is by recognizing it within yourself.  Although impossible to erase our implicit bias quickly – keeping in mind that we have developed our feelings over many years -- the first step toward that goal is simply through acknowledgement. From there, we can commit ourselves not to allow that bias to affect our daily decisions in the workplace and in our community.

Now that we have recognized our implicit bias within ourselves, how can we act upon our newfound knowledge and try to address our biases? Judge Hemphill suggests the following ways:

  • Get involved locally.  Encourage your organizations to participate in Adopt-a-School programs to engage with the young minds of the St. Louis region and see the world from their perspectives.
  • Demand more from your local government.  Whether your city council or your local school board, demand fairness, equality, and happiness for all. Encourage your officials to think holistically when facing problems in the region, and use your vote and your voice to share your opinions.
  • Use your power in your organizations to catalyze change.  As the leading businesswomen in St. Louis, we all have the ability to inspire change. Let’s use it! 


Resources for follow-up:

Learn more about implicit bias and its effects here:

·       Kirwan Institute for the Study for Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University

o   http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/research/understanding-implicit-bias/

Identify your own implicit bias here:

·       Harvard University’s Implicit Association Test

o   https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html


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