Host Smita Tharoor asks guests from around the world to share their story and to reflect on their life experiences with unconscious bias.
"We are defined by our narrative, our personal story, our experiences. These have an impact on how we make judgements and form opinions. A lot of time that’s just fine but every once in a while, we make snap conclusions that have a negative outcome either for the other person or ourselves. Just one particular experience can lead to a lifelong belief. That is our unconscious bias."
Yan Wang Preston
Dr Yan Wang Preston is a British-Chinese artist interested in the connections between landscape, ecology, identity and migration. She has specialised in conducting long-term projects that are demanding both physically and intellectually. For example, she photographed the entire 6,211km Yangtze River in China at precise 100km intervals for her Mother River project. Yan has published two photo books, 'Mother River' and ‘Forest’ with Hatje Cantz. She holds a PhD in Photography and lectures at the University of Huddersfield.
"When I came [to the UK], I realised in the last 16 years - it's a gradual realisation of my own unconscious bias, of trying to be perfect. Trying to be this woman who puts on dinner at the right time, for everyone. But also who appears beautiful, intelligent, all those things. And only a few years ago, actually through the exposure of feminism movements here [in the UK]. I have began to ask myself why? Why do I want to be perfect? Is it because men want me to be like this? Or is this from my own standards? And where did this standards come from? So actually, from quite a few years back, my New Year's resolution to myself has stayed the same. Try not to be perfect."
Andrew Feinstein is a former African National Congress (ANC) Member of Parliament who served in South Africa under Nelson Mandela. He resigned in protest in 2001 at the ruling party’s refusal to allow an unfettered investigation into a massively corrupt $10bn arms deal. He is an author of the critically-acclaimed The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade which reveals the corruption at the heart of the global arms business. He is also a film-maker and campaigner on the damage wrought by the global arms trade, and Executive Director of the London-based non-profit Shadow World Investigations. Andrew is the son of a Holocaust survivor and is married to Simone, a Bangladeshi woman, with whom he has two children.
"I lived in an area surrounded only by so-called White people, and the only people who were black African or so-called coloured or of mixed race - and I'm sorry to have to use this apartheid-era nomenclature - I would see people who are not white, anytime between the beginning of the day and sunset, and thereafter they would disappear. And I never fully understood that they were disappearing to their own racial group areas. And of course, they were only doing certain menial jobs that were allowed to them. I remember very early on my South African grandmother referring to the person who worked in her garden - who must have been in his mid to late 60s - and she would refer to him as boy. And I think growing up in that sort of environment, where these notions of superiority, both conscious and unconscious, are almost taken for granted, is incredibly, incredibly damaging."
Emeka Onwubiko was the first Nigerian-born footballer to play for the Republic of Ireland and wear the Irish jersey. Today, Emeka is a UEFA Certified Coach coaching inspiring young football players.
On the weekend of May 1st, 2021 a number of football organisations in England are going silent on social media to highlight increasing levels of racist abuse on social media platforms.
"When you play without shoes is basically like, not having a lot as a child. For example, you know, most successful people never really had a lot as kids, so that inspired and motivated them to do a lot more. It's how you turn those situations of not having a lot into having the surplus. I mean, that motivates you to do a lot. That example, like having no shoes, and you have a feeling of knowing what having no shoes is like. So, when you do have shoes, you're like more grateful and more appreciative of having that."
Indira Kaur Ahluwalia
Indira Kaur Ahluwalia is an activist and entrepreneur turned advisor, coach, and now an author. She’s worked in federal government contracting, particularly international development, to build equity, accountability, and sustainability.
As Indira fulfilled her life’s passions and professional obligations, she was diagnosed with stage IV advanced breast cancer with bone metastasis at age 38. Her fight, and the lessons she learned, led her to write Fast Forward to Hope: Choosing to Build the Power of Self — a memoir to enable others to face and walk beyond their own issues.
"But you know, whether it's the cancer in terms of the disease, or the cancer of racism, or the cancer off infidelity, or the cancer of other conflicts or challenges. You know, it's our choice. When something happens to us, regardless of the conditioning, regardless of the programming that the world does for us. We're stuck in the box, and it's our choice to become conscious about our ability to break the box. And it doesn't have to be a grand gesture, it has to be a decision in my mind. And I think that was a fundamental point in in my journey. There was no question about whether I was going to live or die. There was absolutely that was not up for debate, even with God. It was a decision I had made. I was going to live."
Jaishree Misra is an author of Indian origin living in Britain. She has written eight novels published by Penguin and Harper Collins. She has also written a non-fiction account of building a writer’s studio on the beach in her home state of Kerala, India. She is a postgraduate in English Literature from Kerala University and has two diplomas from the University of London, one in Broadcast Journalism and the other in Special Education. She has worked in special education, journalism and as a film classifier at the British Board of Film Classification. She lives in London with her husband and daughter. Her daughter, Rohini, is a woman with special needs and specific difficulties with language and communication.
"I tend to assume that people, even my dearest friends, are not that interested in my stories of parenting Rohini. I'm perfectly happy to hear stories of their sons, you know, going off to New York and doing a flash job, or someone else's daughter getting into medical school. And I love those stories, I have not a moments envy or resentment or anything. Because I genuinely enjoy the company of young people, my friends children. So I love those stories. I think I do tend to assume that they might not be as interested in my stories, a little triumph when Rohini came out with a new word. I mean, she's 38, for God's sake, to come out with a new word at the age of 38, I tend to assume would be a little bit embarrassing to announce to the world. So yeah, I hold back."
Jonah Batambuze is a Ugandan-American, multidisciplinary creative, and founder of a community for Black and South Asian people called the Blindian Project.
"For me growing up, the culture, it was you were dating. People dated from when they were like thirteen. Like, my parents met some of my girlfriends, but there was never an expectation that Jonah is going to marry this girl. It was just a part of life, really. Now, I know that my wife, Swetha, didn't grow up like that. What I found is that in the South Asian community, it's not the majority open practice that you just introduce anybody who's your boyfriend or your girlfriend, to your parents. I think for me, it was more of accepting and understanding that me not meeting them within the first couple of months, it wasn't something personal."
Smita is wonderful and she carries immense knowledge. Since the time Bhave been following Smita, my own understanding of unconscious has improved and it helps me a lot as a coach
Loved the examples
This is one of my favorite podcasts on unconscious bias. Thoughtfully curated!
Unconscious bias - Smita Tharoor
For me it has been big learning & I am now beginning to every now & then check my own responses for negativity