You know what they say about assumptions, and it’s not good. But we do it all the time, unconsciously. Every time you look at someone, read a news article, see an image on television…it’s perfectly natural that every experience that we’ve had prior will inform how we interpret that moment before us.
The problem is with the barrage of images we get from media all day, every day. Per an article in The Daily Telegraph in 2011 (citing a 2007 study) it was already the equivalent of 174 newspapers, 85 pages each. There is no way anyone can stop, analyze, read the full story to see if the image contradicts your immediate interpretation and assimilation into your understanding of the world.
That said, I recommend periodic tests to look at news images, assess your interpretation, and then read the story to see if it matches what you saw.
Here are a couple of images with which to start, including one from Baltimore following the Freddie Gray protests last week. Take a look at the image, make your assessment of what’s happening, and then click to play the video.
Image from Baltimore during the protests. Why are these people lined up at this wall?
What is going on in this interaction?
Implicit bias is the unconscious association of different races with positive and negative feelings (see the Implicit Bias test at Harvard’s Project Implicit), but it comes from somewhere, and images in the media are a big source.
Did the video match your snap interpretation of the scene? How (or was it?) different? How did it challenge your assumptions?