Rita Williams is holding her notebook, eyes closed, repeating the same line. She'll be on camera in less than a minute, reporting near the memorial for a slain 5-year-old on in an East Oakland neighborhood - where she's about to break an exclusive that includes video of a suspect's car. Life is a receiving line for the veteran KTVU reporter, who recently announced a February retirement date, after 35 years spent working some of the Bay Area's toughest crime stories.
Williams, 65, gets stopped in the hallway by co-workers.
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She gets calls from competing reporters, politicians and police officials whom she has dogged since the s. But the biggest tribute may come from the residents of neighborhoods like this one on International Boulevard near 55th Avenue. At least five more locals approach her to say hello, or call her by name from their cars. Everyone loves a firefighter and Rita Williams. Careers at a single TV station are rare enough in the business, and Williams arguably did it the hard way, spending a lifetime breaking gender barriers. Raised in Lubbock, Texas, her first piece of journalism was a sports article for the junior high newspaper.
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She also played basketball, but her team wasn't allowed to practice on a full court. That was just the first lesson in Glass Ceiling College friends were stunned when she didn't marry her wealthy rancher boyfriend, and took a politics job in Washington, D. Williams says at her first on-air TV job, in San Antonio, she was asked to cover a consumer goods story aimed at housewives. With the police being a harder group to penetrate than the politicians, she decided to stay close to them at the Hall of Justice.
By Williams' account, the early s were brutal years. She says other reporters made her set up shop in a locker room.
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Police blew her off, sometimes with a sexist remark or a sexist gesture. The only way out, she figured, was hard work. Williams was one of the witnesses to the last gas chamber execution at San Quentin. In the moments after the Loma Prieta earthquake, she and KTVU cameraman Tony Hodrick strode from the Hall of Justice up to the bridge, running onto the damaged structure as passengers were running off.
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The climate improved. She's proud that longtime San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessey , now retired, once called her "a pit bull with a heart. That's apparent on a recent Tuesday, the day of her live shot. A few days earlier, she had a moving interview with the father of Gabriel Martinez , a 5-year-old victim of a drive-by shooting outside his family's taco truck. She has another scoop - the video and sketches of two suspects believed to be in the car. This is true in part because implicit bias distorts how facts are interpreted, resulting in vastly dissimilar outcomes in identical circumstances.
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That can result in the detention of one youth for the identical offense for which another was released. In child welfare, white and black children with identical risk factors have different outcomes: White children are more likely to receive family in-home services and black children are more likely to be removed and placed in foster care.
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In hospitals and emergency rooms, the attitude of the mother can be perceived as evidence of risk to the child. White families are expected to advocate on behalf of their children but advocacy by black parents can easily be perceived according to stereotypes, e. These stereotypes and corresponding implicit biases can cause child welfare and hospital staff to judge black parents as uncooperative with decision-makers and therefore working against the best interest of their children. When decision-makers perceive families or youth as uncooperative, that perception is likely to be encoded into case notes, affidavits and court records.
Racially coded language recorded in reports are shared and passed from one decision point to another within and between systems. Judges have stated that as they became more aware of implicit bias they could identify how language in court reports signify race. Based upon the choice of words, one mother has essentially been cleared of suspicion of drug involvement while another is placed under greater scrutiny and will have a hurdle to overcome.
Bias encoded in language becomes the baseline for decision-making at every subsequent decision point and will impact how children and their families are perceived and therefore how they are served within systems.
Because implicit bias can easily go undetected, usual practices that appear neutral to race must be examined for their potential to promote and mask biases. Rita Cameron Wedding, Ph. As faculty member for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges , she has trained judges at court improvement initiatives in plus states. She has provided expert testimony before the U. Commission on Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities. Email her at drrcamwed aol.
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According to scientific testing the main example of implicit bias is females being biased towards other females. Donate Today Go.
For more information, visit the JJIE Resource Hub In the absence of those more blatant and incontrovertible examples of racism, many people think that the racism that may exist is the result of the random acts of a few bad apples. What is implicit bias? We all have unconscious biases Perhaps the most perplexing aspect of contemporary racism is unconscious or implicit bias. How implicit bias can preserve systems of inequality Race and ethnic stratification that existed prior to the civil rights movement persists today, more than 30 years after the historic laws of racial exclusion were ostensibly eliminated.
How implicit bias interacts, compounds within, across youth-serving systems Implicit bias can: Inform discretionary decision-making, assessments of risk and reoffending, and how sentences and adjudication are determined. Result in the differential application of policies and procedures; for example, identical offenses can be perceived and managed differently due to differences in perception caused by implicit biases. Bias in the use of language can affect decisions resulting in detention in juvenile justice or removal or reunification in child welfare.
Inform ambiguous charges of delinquency such as willful defiance bad attitude, rolling eyes, using profanity , or discretionary charges of low-level offenses like jaywalking or indecent exposure e.