On Bias, Perspective, and Truth Telling

Recently I have had a lot of interesting comments regarding my work on Facebook or in the comments section of the blog, and each time a particular assertion was made, it caught me by surprise.

“This article is biased.”

“You are so biased.”

“I don’t like this article because it’s biased.”

My reaction?  Well, of course I’m biased.

Bias is defined as “a particular tendency or inclination, especially one that prevents unprejudiced consideration of a question; prejudice.”

The fact is that Change From Within is incredibly biased.  This blog is written from a particular perspective that is meant to shed light on voices, events, and perspectives that are often ignored or under-reported in other areas of media.

One of the most common places that I found indignant accusations of Change From Within being biased was in response to my piece on the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.  My response, of course, is that the piece is meant to be biased.  We are inundated with messages of how women are “supposed” to look in everyday media.  Young women are told that they should look like the models in that show at all cost, and young men are told that they should lust after such women.

My work (and the work of blogs like Racism Review, Women Are From Mars, Ill Doctrine, Genderre[a]d, QueerBlackFeminist, Native Appropriations, and Stuff White People Do) is meant to provide an inherently-biased counter narrative to the perspectives heard in mainstream, dominant culture and media.  The goal of such work is truth telling in the face of mainstream media and culture’s lies, half-truths, and problematic perspectives.

To anyone who argues that I am biased or that I should work to be unbiased, I give you one of my favorite quotes from the late Howard Zinn:

You can’t stay neutral on a moving train.”

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3 thoughts on “On Bias, Perspective, and Truth Telling

  1. I agree. I often think the accusation of bias comes from people who disagree but are fearful of engaging in further discussion. The accusation in and of itself allows the commenter to register their disagreement without having to think more deeply about it or the object of their accusation. In addition, they shift the conversation to a personal level rather than the issue at hand. It may not even be a conscious strategy, just a parroting of techniques heard everyday on talk radio. Whatever the source, it closes the accuser off from the potential of change, which is the ultimate fear.

  2. Agree. Of course I’m biased. Of course I speak from a view point. No kidding. Moreover, telling me I’m biased is just derailing the conversation. It’s not helpful and it’s one way to just avoid discussing what ever topic I’m providing my opinion on.

    AND thanks for the shout-out! :D

  3. Yes yes, good point! There’s really no such thing as being unbiased; historians, for instance, can’t discuss EVERYTHING, so they have to choose what to include and what to leave out. Hence, they’re automatically biased (as Zinn pointed out). What a better world it would be if everyone grew more aware of their own, unavoidably biased perspectives. Then maybe they’d try to change and refine them. The best biased people, I suppose, are those who are highly aware of, and explicit about, their biases.

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