About 70 residents participated in a March 16 workshop at the Bexley Public Library that was designed to get the community talking.

The library, the city of Bexley, the Bexley City Schools and Capital University joined forces to present the workshop as part of "The Current" series to help the community learn how biases can impact interpersonal interactions, Mayor Ben Kessler said.

The series at the library aims to explore significant issues facing the world today.

"We've been talking about how we can program around and create a really healthy, productive community dialogue on how we embrace diversity," Kessler said. "We really want to be a proactive voice in that. Tonight's the first step."

Robin Wright, a researcher and facilitation specialist with the Ohio State University's Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, led the workshop. The Kirwan Institute defines implicit bias as the messages people internalize that shape their perceptions of people, places, concepts and ideas.

"Implicit bias is more of a determiner of our behavior and our decisions and our actions than our explicit (biases). It's pervasive in society," she said.

Wright presented research that illustrates how implicit biases affect perceptions of different racial groups, such as a study in which lawyers more harshly criticized a legal document they thought was written by an African-American law student, even though it was identical to one they assumed was written by a Caucasian student.

Wright also led attendees through interactive exercises, such as watching a video and asking them to count the number of times a team passed a basketball back and forth. Many participants didn't notice a person dressed in a bear suit dancing through the scene.

"We can be blind to the obvious," Wright said. "We can be blind to our blindness."

Bexley residents Lori Abshire and Aimee Bonner said they found the workshop useful and look forward to future community discussions.

"It's great, given all the negative talk ... to have a positive dialogue," Abshire said.

"Any time we have to confront our biases, that's a good thing," Bonner said. "That leads to growth."

The next community talk, "From Outrage to Dialogue: How to Have Conversations When You Disagree," is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 20 at the library, 2411 E. Main St. For more information, visit the city's website, Bexley.org, or the library's website, bexleylibrary .org.

editorial@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNews