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Can 'implicit bias' training really work?



Later this month, Starbucks plans to close down 8,000 of its stores to train its employees on implicit bias. This comes after a manager kicked two Black men out of a Starbucks in Philadelphia in April.

Here in the Bay, the Elmwood Cafe in Berkeley abruptly shut down, presumably after public reaction to a post by comedian and CNN Host W. Kamau Bell reminding the country about an incident in 2015. That incident: Bell was asked to leave Elmwood Cafe when the clerk thought he was a stranger bothering his own wife and child.

Racial bias is a part of both those stories. The public response to incidents like these often includes conducting some kind of racial sensitivity or implicit bias training for staffers of businesses and organizations.

Last year, the Sierra Club  did a workshop series on how systemic oppression shows up at work. It was called Growing for Change.

Brittany Harris is an ‘anti oppression’ educator in the Sierra Club’s equity department. She spoke to KALW's Hana Baba about how these trainings work.


"I actually don't believe that you can train away racism. We are lifelong learners."


Hana Baba is host of Crosscurrents, KALW's weeknight newsmagazine that broadcasts on KALW Public Radio in the San Francisco Bay Area.