Projection is just another form of Bias

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We need to be honest about the ways in which we are projecting things onto other people, and stop.

I’ll go first.

At one end of the spectrum are the relatively harmless projections.

Baby goats are so damned cute. We had a farm for five years and bred goats a couple of times. We created a “Goat Yoga” experience where people could come to the farm, do yoga in our barn or yard, and let baby goats climb on them as part of it. People loved it. We loved it.

We had one little guy we named Elton who we’d nursed back to life after his mom delivered four kids. He even had a special little t-shirt for goat yoga. He’s the one in the picture for this post.

We projected our feelings that he was special onto him because we’d helped him survive. But really, he was just a goat. He was friendlier than some of the others because of the amount of handling he’d had from birth. But not because he was any more “human” than the rest of the goats. (That would be projecting.)

At the other end of the spectrum are the crimes we commit against each other because of projections.

I grew up as a racial minority in Detroit. I was one of a handful of non-Black kids in my graduating class from high school.

And yet, I’m not immune to racism or bias.

Society still tells me as a white woman in subtle (and sometimes overt) ways that I’m somehow better than BIPOC. And though I make conscious and consistent efforts to reject that narrative, I don’t get it right all the time.

Projections onto entire groups of people have led to discrimination, persecution, violence, and murder. All the movements created to bring about awareness, visibility, equality, equity, inclusion, and an end to mistreatment are based on undoing these projections.

Projections are the nastiest most dangerous form of assumptions.

And then there’s the office politics.

A microcosm of the world, our workplaces create some pretty nasty projections that are harmful to the same groups of people marginalized and targeted out in the world. Just scroll any social media feed and you’ll see examples.

(If you don’t, your feed needs some serious diversification. I can make some recommendations of people to follow if you’re interested.)

I could go on and on. And I very well might, but not in this post.

Here’s my point.

We all need to take a hard and honest look at where we are projecting our biases onto other people.

Once you see it in yourself, don’t unsee it.

Do something different.

Build relationships.

Demonstrate respectful curiosity.

Call out bullying.

As Madison Butler says, just do better.

 

 

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