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December 13, 2016 / WRAG

Unpacking the carry-on bag of bias: My reflections on WRAG’s “Responding to Comments that are Implicitly Biased: Guidance for African-Americans” training

By Manon P. Matchett
Community Investment Officer, Strategic Initiatives
The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region

I love curbside check-in at the airport. I welcome the opportunity to hand my luggage to someone else and not worry about it. I gladly tip the Skycap for the freedom to easily clear security and maneuver without the extra weight.

WRAG’s recent training, “Responding to Comments that are Implicitly/Unconsciously Biased: Guidance for African-Americans,” was a curbside check-in experience for me. When traveling into the unknown, it is comforting to travel with people you know and trust. The excitement is engaging with people you do not know.

Before we took off, our co-pilots, Robin Gerald, a consultant with White Men as Full Diversity Partners, and Pollie Massey, CEO of OMS Consulting and Training, provided us with an overview of the flight plan – a reminder of our rich history, significant contributions to building this great nation, and the struggles we continue to overcome. I was prepped for some turbulence but assured that in less than 180 minutes, I would land safely.

I booked a ticket on this flight because the title and narrative arrested a portion of my soul that is hurting. This session unpacked pains that I consciously wear and pains that are wearing me. They are my carry-on bag – sheltering my vulnerabilities and fears. I cope and survive by placing these pains in my own three-ounce containers. I left this session lighter because I can better trust myself to do what is best for me – not the situation or those involved.

When I deplane, I quickly descend to baggage claim to make sure no one walks away with my luggage. I wish it were that easy when discussing race and equity. I always feel like these are bags that never get lost. They belong to me. They have my name on it.

I can accept (even though I do not like) that racial insensitivity is luggage that may never get rerouted to another plane. It is the invisible noose that suffocates my very existence. It is a shadow on wheels that follows me even into the darkness. What I can do is choose not to let it weigh me down. I can choose not to internalize it to the point that it is detrimental to my own well-being. I have been challenged to fly higher with purpose and thoughtful intent.

Kudos to WRAG and other philanthropic entities who are making a conscientious effort to treat the causes and not just the symptoms of racial injustice.

The journey continues…


Responding to Comments that are Implicitly/Unconsciously Biased: Guidance for African-Americans was held as part of Putting Racism on the Table: The Training Series for the local philanthropic community. You can learn more about WRAG’s ongoing work around racism and racial equity at www.puttingracismonthetable.org.

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