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Looking inward: Smithsonian exhibition on human bias debuts in Huntsville

Published on April 24, 2023

A unique educational exhibition from the Smithsonian is now on display in Huntsville, providing numerous opportunities for the public to reflect on their own bias and change its impact on their actions.

City of Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (ODEI) Director Kenny Anderson joined the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library (HMCPL) and Meta on April 24 for the ribbon cutting of “The Bias Inside Us,” a free, self-guided exhibition at the Downtown Huntsville Public Library, 915 Monroe St.

The traveling exhibition and community engagement project aims to raise awareness of the social science and psychology of implicit bias, and how it affects the world around us.

“Research shows that bias is part of being human,” said ODEI Director Kenny Anderson. “It’s an automatic firing in our brains and can be both positive and negative. We hope the exhibition here in Huntsville will lead to meaningful dialogue, positive change and increased inclusivity across our community.”

We hope the exhibition here in Huntsville will lead to meaningful dialogue, positive change and increased inclusivity across our community.”

“The Bias Inside Us” is grounded in decades of scientific research and educational work by psychologists Mahzarin R. Banaji of Harvard University and Anthony G. Greenwald, professor emeritus at the University of Washington. The duo defined the term “implicit bias” through their work on unconscious and conscious mental processes.

Their 2013 book, Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, explores the biases people carry based on their exposure to cultural attitudes on areas such as gender, race, social class and disability status.

To elevate and enrich “The Bias Inside Us” viewing experience, HMCPL is offering book lists, programs, speakers and other resources through May at all of its Library branches.

“We are delighted to host this impactful Smithsonian exhibition at the Downtown Huntsville Public Library,” said Cindy Hewitt, Executive Director at HMCPL. “However, our excitement extends beyond this location. Our entire team is dedicated to providing access to culturally relevant information across all of our branches. The Library is committed to bringing people together through enriching experiences. The opportunity to offer additional reading materials and programming for all ages that complement ‘The Bias Inside Us’ exhibit fits perfectly with our mission.”

Mark your calendar for these notable HMCPL events:

The Bias Inside Us: Beyond Bias

April 24, 6-7:15 p.m.

Downtown Huntsville Library, 2nd Floor Events Room

To celebrate the opening of the Smithsonian exhibition, Interim Department Chair of the Psychology and Counseling Department at Alabama A&M University Dr. Tonya Davis will speak about unconscious bias, the unexpected ways it manifests in everyone’s life and how you can shift your perspective moving forward.

Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People

April 25, 6-7:30 p.m.

Virtual (link here) or in-person at Downtown Huntsville, South Huntsville and North Huntsville branches

Author Dr. Mahzarin Banaji will discuss their book, Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People. This webinar will reveal the surprising and perplexing ways in which we make errors in assessing and evaluating others when we recruit and hire, onboard and promote, lead teams, undertake succession planning, and work on behalf of our clients or the public we serve.

The Bias Inside Us: Blindspot Community Read

May 16, 6-7:15 p.m.

Downtown Huntsville Library Atrium

As a part of “The Bias Inside Us” exhibition, HMCPL is encouraging our community to read, Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, by Dr. Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald. Join us as we discuss this fascinating book.

For a full list of events, click here.

Learn more about “The Bias Inside Us” on HMCPL’s website and join the conversation by using the hashtag #RetrainYourBrain on social media.