17 December 2017

Statement on Prison Diaries’ Implicit Bias

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On October 29, 2017, I attended a session at the Journalism and Women Symposium in Hot Springs, Arkansas led by Jenée Desmond-Harris, an op-ed editor at The New York Times and  Tonya Mosley, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief and a host for KQED, a radio station based outside of San Jose, California.

The topic of discussion was implicit bias in reporting: what it is, how to notice it and what to do about it. Much of what we consume in media provides silent and derogatory comment on people’s backgrounds and current circumstances. And, if you’re not looking for it, you might not have noticed it.

Prison Diaries is a collection of essays that I wrote while I was incarcerated so they reflect my feelings and thoughts at the time as a person whose background was much different than the people around her.

In short, what I wrote is loaded with both implicit and explicit bias and I admit that and accept the consequences for it.

I have decided not to edit these pieces using my newfound wokeness. Instead, what I want to do with my writing is present it in its reality and qualify it for that bias and ask that people contact me when they notice it. This does not mean that a complaint will cause me to edit these posts retroactively. Rather, I will post those comments for others to read and comment on.

To date, I have not received any complaints about bias. But after hearing Ms. Desmond-Harris and Ms. Mosley speak, I recognized that I am guilty of this bias and I want to acknowledge it. No pleading the Fifth Amendment, no “100% not guilty” pleas.

I am biased and how I am provides an important lesson in race and class structure in the United States.

GULITY AS CHARGED.

Read on and let me know what you think.

Chandra

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