By: Dan Culhane, USITT President

Last week as part of our summer quarterly meeting, the Board and Commissioners attended a four-hour training on Implicit Bias lead by Dr. Nikki Coleman of the University of Houston.  Implicit biases are unconsciously held stereotypes and deeply ingrained beliefs that exist outside of our conscious values and attitudes. It is a universal phenomenon and understanding our own bias is at the heart of all Equity, Diversity and Inclusion work.

Dr. Coleman presented a concise and clear explanation of implicit bias and provided the most recent social science research on the subject. We had the opportunity to gauge the extent of our own unconscious bias by taking an Implicit Associate Test (IAT) and reflect on how these beliefs affect our choices and in turn our organization. Most importantly, Dr. Coleman provided us with tools to mitigate the negative effects of our own bias. Mindfulness, perspective taking, countering and replacing negative stereotypes, and individualizing members of a group can help us to increase our awareness and combat systemic “isms.”

USITT understands its role in developing and diversifying the next generation of theater and entertainment educators and professionals. To move forward on this goal, it is crucial for all of us to work toward a more just and equitable world. This month’s Board & Commissioner training was a single step of a long journey. I encourage you to take a moment to explore some of the resources listed below and reflect on your own beliefs and attitudes. Together we can grow as individuals and as an organization.