unconscious bias

Jay Clouse learning, relationships, stories

I was walking with my buddy Zach when we heard a voice from behind shout after us, “Do you guys listen to good hip hop music that doesn’t talk about guns or pussy?”

Without thinking, we both turned, but I had no idea what was going to come out of this guy’s mouth next.

I answered, “Uh, not really but I’d like to!”

The dude held out a stack of paper and said, “I’m headlining the Ohio Hip Hop Showcase on Friday at Skully’s if you want tickets.”

Then he started playing one of his songs on his phone so we could listen to it before deciding whether or not to buy a ticket.

At this point, I was just starting to find my “balance” again after the initial sales pitch, but I thought his music was dope.

We talked for a little bit, his name is Zac and he’s from Dayton. He wants to be the next hip hop legend and we both really don’t like Lil Yachty.

“Check my Reverbnation – I’m the most influential hip hop artist in Dayton!” (checks out)

We had an awesome conversation: He shared his plan to leave Ohio after the Hip Hop Showcase and go to “the next big city” to spread his music and we shared our history of putting together house shows. He even offered to play a show sometime.

“I only ask that if you end up going down to the show, buy a ticket from the artists and not from the bar. Because, you know, the bar is rich and the artists are broke.”

I bought a pair of tickets and I’m pumped for the show. We had been talking for close to 10 minutes at this point, and I asked Zac for his number in case we put together a show sometime.

As I’m putting him in my phone, he says, “If you look me up, you’ll see that I’ve been to prison. I was young and–”

“–It sucks that you feel like you have to tell me that,” I said.

“You have no idea, man.”

Zac is black, has a lot of tattoos, and when he first approached us, I honestly first felt suspicious and a little annoyed. Unconscious bias is undeniable and it sucks. I’m conscious of my unconscious bias, and I still struggle with it.

I don’t know what the solution is, but interactions like this go a long way. I wish I could share this interaction with Zac with everyone. This doesn’t do justice, but it’s something.


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