Dr. Bryant T. Marks


Bryant T. Marks Says Unconscious Bias Contributes to Many Discriminatory Actions

ATLANTA – Unconscious bias likely contributed to the shooting death of Daunte Wright in Minnesota and assault on Army Lt. Caron Nazario in Virginia, according to acclaimed anti-bias trainer, Bryant T. Marks, Ph.D., who counsels public and private sector organizations and companies around the country on how to eliminate implicit bias.

Dr. Marks, founder and chief equity officer of the National Training Institute on Race and Equity (NTIRE), sees implicit bias as the common thread in many police shootings of unarmed people of color, as well as other discriminatory acts that adversely impact people of color every day in our society. He provides bias training for institutions and organizations, including police officers, educators, healthcare providers, corporations and public officials.

Wright, 20, was killed by a police officer on Sunday afternoon during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minn., when the officer apparently fired her gun when she meant to use her taser. Meanwhile, a lawsuit revealed that Lt. Nazario feared for his life and was pepper-sprayed and knocked to the ground by police officers during a traffic stop in Windsor, VA last December.

Dr. Marks asserts that unconscious bias, as well as other factors, contributed to both assaults. “Most police are trained to de-escalate,” Dr. Marks says. “When they see it is a Black or Brown male they are engaging, it triggers their associations, the same negative perceptions held by many in our society. And because of those implicit associations situations like these escalate and spur a police response that is much more aggressive than necessary.”

Last month, Dr. Marks raised awareness of the perils of unconscious bias when he hosted an hour-long, commercial-free TV special on implicit bias that aired on E.W. Scripps Company TV stations in 61 markets around the country. The show, Hidden Bias of Good People, was an extraordinary effort to raise awareness of the unconscious impulses of people unaware of the role their inherent biases play in their actions and decisions.

Recently, Dr. Marks told TMZ Live: “One of the ways to reduce bias, both implicit and explicit, is education. It’s hard to hold a negative perception of a group if you learn about them in a deep way, you learn about the contributions that they’ve made or the challenges they faced and overcome.”

Founded in 2016, NTIRE is affiliated with Morehouse College, where Dr. Marks is an alum and a tenured professor of psychology. NTIRE’s training principles comprise a unique combination of social and cognitive science and the tenets of Martin Luther King Jr.’s version of the Beloved Community, while engaging the participants in an interactive process. Dr. Marks uses non-judgmental, yet evidence-based approaches to discuss difficult and sensitive topics, penetrating conversations that can enhance interpersonal and intergroup relations.

“Our approach to addressing racial bias is through empathy and humanity, not guilt, blame and shame,” explains Dr. Marks. “We believe when compelling information and practical strategies are presented the right way, it can change hearts, minds, and behavior. If people can talk and understand each other, and empathize with each other, then the result can be one of respect and inclusion, even if there is not full agreement on issues and perspectives.”

To further emphasize the need to address unconscious bias, NTIRE has launched an interactive social media campaign #ImplicitBias #SeeME on TikTok, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The highlight is a video with people from all walks of life asking others to #SeeME.

The campaign #Implicit Bias #SeeME is making people more aware of their biases in hopes of changing them. Celebrities, such as Real Housewives of Atlanta star Marlo Hampton, award winning-actor Clifton Powell and business and technology leader Dr. Randal Pinkett have joined the campaign. NTIRE is compelling people of all races to acknowledge #ImplicitBias and combat it by posting on social media their pictures and “#SeeME” as the campaign emphasizes seeing people for who they really are.

“In our #SeeME campaign, we want folks to look past race and gender and look at the person, look at (another) human, as an individual,” Dr. Marks said in an interview with TMZ Live.

(For broadcast or print interviews with Dr. Marks, please contact Michael K. Frisby 202-625-4328 or mike@frisbyassociates.com).

The highlight of the interactive social media campaign on TikTok, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, is a video with people from all walks of life asking others to #SeeME