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Abstract

Classroom discussions around race and difference are often difficult and challenging. We all come to our social interactions as products of our cultural selves, race being one of a myriad of multi-faceted characteristics. Therefore, while many feel that race is something that is discussed ad nauseam, others feel that such discussions rarely scratch the surface. This exercise uses the Implicit Association Test on race to encourage students to reflect upon and examine their hidden biases and address the role those biases play in potential communicative interactions, decisions, actions, and even emotions that they, the students, likely have of people of a particular race. Given the centrality of communication to our behaviors, worldview, identity, and relationships, this assignment is not only relevant to the discipline, but it can be used in several communication courses. Although students initially respond with resistance to seeing their own biases, subsequent written reflection and class discussion provide them the opportunity to see how powerfully prior associations impact them, how communication plays a vital role in the process through which those biases are created and perpetuated, and how negative associations can be overcome.

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