Martin Luther King Day

On Martin Luther King Day I like to think about how easy it is for people to discriminate against others based on the silliest of features. Humans evolved primarily in tribes, which were close-knit groups of under thirty families. It's fair to assume that most members of the tribe were extraordinarily similar: same language, similar genetic makeup, technological sophistication, skin color, etc. For this and other reasons, we've evolved to have a preference for things that remind us of us - for example, we prefer things that begin with the same letter as our own name. The flip side of our bias for things that are similar to us is that we are biased against unfamiliar things, and people. This bias has had truly tragic consequences over the course of history, and has required heroism from MLK, Rosa Parks, and countless other members of the civil rights movement, to formally overturn. To deal fairly with our colleagues, fellow students, direct reports, (and potential US immigrants) we need to be aware of our bias for similarity and correct for it constantly. If you are looking for excellent writing by MLK, check out his Letter from Birmingham Jail.

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