NCSD2015: Workshop B3

Telling Stories Out of School: Managing Implicit Bias and Racial Anxiety in an Online Community Devoted to Race Talk

Every so often, high-profile racialized events—and the routine dynamics of racial inequity—lead some to call for a serious “conversation about race in America.” The obstacles to such a conversation are many. Conversations about race are emotionally and politically fraught. Many people think that talking about race is impolite or even racist. Others complain of race fatigue, feeling that we engage race too much.

In this workshop, we discuss implicit bias and racial anxiety, two potential barriers to constructive race talk, in the context of an emerging online, multiracial community called EmbraceRace. Upon its launch in November, EmbraceRace will provide an interactive community of support and practice for those of us–parents, teachers, counselors, grandparents, day care providers, aunts and uncles–trying to raise kids with healthy racial sensibilities.

Presenters will describe the EmbraceRace project (which will include a website, podcast, social media, etc.), provide a brief overview of implicit bias and racial anxiety, and anticipate how words/behaviors animated by one or the other might “show up” in the EmbraceRace space. Drawing on research findings, experience, and intuition, together we will outline some steps that might be taken to meet the challenges that bias and anxiety present to constructive race talk.


  • Andrew Grant-ThomasCo-Founder, EmbraceRace
  • Janee WoodsSocial Justice Advocate, Blogger, & Host
  • Dr. Linda TroppProfessor, University of Massachusetts Amherst



Andrew Grant-Thomas began the workshop by describing the need for, and establishment of, EmbraceRace, an emerging online community devoted to discussion and practice related to children, child development, parenting, race and racial justice, and the intersections among them. (See EmbraceRace’s Facebook page.) Janee Woods Weber made explicit the need for those of us charged with curating EmbraceRace to be alert to the ways that racial anxiety and implicit bias could undermine the forthright, incisive race conversations we hope to promote. Linda Tropp summarized the social psychological research on the motivations underlying implicit racial bias and ways in which that bias is expressed behaviorally. She then engaged session participants in a demonstration on implicit bias. Janee led the way in helping participants debrief their experience with the demonstration. Linda examined the role of racial anxiety in exacerbating differences in interpersonal evaluations and treatment associated with racial bias and discussed strategies to reduce bias and anxiety, such as enhancing meaningful contact between members of different racial and ethnic groups. The remaining time was devoted to a group discussion, facilitated by Janee, featuring a mix of Question & Answer about the research and participants’ reflections on ways the insights shared on implicit bias and racial anxiety might feature in their own work and lives.


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