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Implicit Bias Challenge

What is Implicit Bias?

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “implicit bias” is “a term of art referring to relatively unconscious and automatic features of prejudiced judgment and social behavior.” Psychologists in the field identify the most striking and well-known research has focused on implicit attitudes toward members of socially stigmatized groups, such as African-Americans and the LGBTQ community.

What is the Implicit Bias Challenge?

In 2017, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office initiated the office’s first Implicit Bias Challenge. The challenge instructed teams within the office to think critically about implicit bias in the work of a prosecutor's office and use art to deconstruct negative cultural and social stereotypes. Entries included a sensory display about physically peeling away biases, photos of inmates showcasing their humanity, and a stunning display of community members collectively creating art.

Why the Implicit Bias Challenge?

During an office-wide training initiated by District Attorney George Gascón, an expert presented neuroscience research on how visual markers—for example, race, age, class, perceived sexual orientation, and/or gender—may automatically trigger your brain’s internal processes to assume certain emotions or beliefs. These emotions or beliefs could affect whether we exhibit care or cruelty, or show empathy or apathy towards specific people.

District Attorney Gascón recognized the potential impact of implicit bias in the work carried out by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and on the communities we serve. Subsequently, Gascón arranged for a second training to ensure everyone in the office had the opportunity to attend. He then formed an office-wide implicit bias workgroup to discuss the next steps in addressing implicit bias within the office. As a result, the workgroup created the idea for the challenge: to use art in order to identify unconscious biases and thoughtfully reframe them.


The Implicit Bias Challenge Art Showcase

In celebration of the exceptional work by office employees, artists, and community members, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office held its first Implicit Bias Challenge Art Showcase at the beautiful 111 Minna Gallery. The event provided a space for community members and office employees to engage in the important dialogue around implicit bias. Click here for gallery photos.