Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Grey’s Anatomy and Unconscious Bias

Grey’s Anatomy and Unconscious Bias

Showrunner Krista Vernoff and episode writer Zoanne Clack talk with THR about the powerful hour.

Marxism is understood to have the goal to liberate oppressed groups. The PowerPoint Marxism, hegemony, and class shares that "the goal of the Marxist critic is to expose how pop culture text/artifacts reinforce status quo power structures as normal and common sense.” We see a power struggle in life constantly through race, gender, socioeconomic status, education, or sexuality.
Recently saw an episode of Grey's Anatomy that focused on power struggle between police and a young 12 year old black boy. Race was a big factor on the determination of power we find out further in the episode. The young boy lived in a rich neighborhood with people who were predominantly white. The young boy was found trying to break into his home but some officers who rushed to the scene with guns pointing told him to freeze. The boy shares he was scared and wanted to call his mother to settle the matter, but as he reached for the phone in his pocket unfortunately an officer shot him in the neck. He lived for half the day then passed away. In the few hours he lived he was rushed to the hospital the doctors had an immediate dislike for the officers who were more concerned about getting a statement from him instead of seeing if the boy would survive.

Image result for Police and black boy

In an article by Leslie Goldberg, called why "Grey's Anatomy just overtly tackle unconscious bias." They quote an episode writer Zoanne Clack shares her thoughts regarding the matter at hand. "It became very clear to me as I'm raising my four year old black son that he will have different experiences in life no matter how much I'm in an upper socioeconomic Park of society. No matter what school he's in or who his friends are, he's still going to be seen as black boy and black man and that will alter his experience from other social groups."

Multiple times you see Jackson Avery speaking boldly to the officers to get the handcuffs off the boy so they can operate. “They took his childhood today; he's never going to be the same,” he tells April — Jackson is among the hardest hit when the youngster dies. “You see skin color,” he tells police. “Bias is human. You're using guns and your bias is lethal. Adjust your protocol. Fix it. Kids are dying. This kid is dead — for what?! So many people that look like him are dying. For what?!” He being an African-American himself he had experiences with the police that were strictly because of his race.  By this time the officers know that it was his home that the boy was trying to get into. The doctors talked amongst themselves sharing how if the boy had been a different race things would have been handled differently. The police continued to demand that the boy be in handcuffs since he was being arrested. The television show portrayed the officers as insensitive and "bias" in how they treat white people over black people.

What type of unconscious bias are we experiencing in the world we live in?
How much truth is shown through television about race and power struggle?


  1. Unconscious bias is a topic I am very interested in. I have personal experience in watching my black sons be treated differently than my white sons, my kids with disabilities treated differently than my able-bodied ones and women being treated differently than men. Unconscious bias is insidious because you don’t even think you have it! (The unconscious part.)

    In the “Grey’s Anatomy” example, the police officers believed they were keeping an upper-class neighborhood safe. When evidence is presented otherwise (it was his own home, he reached for a cell phone), instead of acknowledging that their bias had led them to make a fatal mistake, they doubled down.

    Current example: women in politics in Utah. Some people have overt bias and will tell you women have no place in politics. Many, however, will say they a) don’t vote based on gender (but never vote for a woman) and b) they would not have any trouble voting for a woman, just not THAT woman (the woman currently on the ballot.)

    Unconscious bias is a dangerous thing with damaging and in this example, sometimes fatal consequences.

  2. It often seems that the media and other social media sources tend to turn anything they can get their hands on into a political battle. The problem is that they and many others seem to collectively absorb everyone in the mix of our country's problems. When you try to get your point across you need to get as many people's attention as you can and I believe in movies and tv series they do this in a very dramatic way!

    We have to be careful when talking about different racial tensions. Just because a white male seems to be on top of the economic curve, doesn't mean that every white male belongs in that same group. There are good and bad people from every race and when we just group all together as being the same it is very inaccurate. I think this is where television tries to demean to get their point across...

    I think television uses many different techniques to get more viewers and more money. We have to be careful not to take to heart everything we see. Just because it happens on tv does not mean that its that way in the real world. I do think entertainment is great for all of us, we just need to be careful with what we take from that entertainment whole-heartedly! Interesting read overall though so great job...