Subtle Illusions

I am learning to appreciate my awareness that it’s not always as it seems. As my awareness grows my vision has more clarity. When pondering this notion, my mind shifts to thinking about optical illusions and how they aren’t always as they first seem. 

What we perceive becomes our reality. But is it really reality? Test out these optical illusions and determine what is real. The reality of the image or what appears from the image based off your experience.

Kanizsa’s Triangle (Gestalt effect)
Do you see a triangle formed by the edges of Pac-Man? With our visual perception we tend to seek closure and that is revealed in this illusion. Point-blank, our visual perception is shaped by experiences and not merely dependent on what we see, smell, hear, taste, and touch,


Image Source

Lilac Chaser (color)

Image Source

Look at the center cross (click on it) for about 20 seconds. A green dot will begin to appear around the circle or a green dot circling around, erasing the purple dots. When you shift your eyes the purple dots appear again.

This illusion triggers our perceptual system to adapt and fill in the gap left by the ‘afterimage” with a complementary color. That is why you see the color green. 

Shepard’s Tables (size)

First glance, I assume you are thinking the two tables above are a different size and shape. You my friend would be wrong. They are the exact same. Don’t take my word for it? Check out this animated illustration to test it out yourself.  Another visual illusion further proving that our vision system is largely influenced by our experiences with the outside world therefore interferes with reality sometimes.

Knowing is Not Half the Battle

Is knowing that some of our systems, like our vision system, are based on our experiences in the world vs straight up reality, enough? Two professors came up with the G.I. Joe fallacy that I found helps explain this concept. If you remember at the end of the show a kid would say, “Thank you G.I. Joe. Now, I know” G.I Joe would respond with “Knowing is half the battle.” A mistaken idea set in motion that simply to know about it, is half the battle. Knowing isn’t enough.

I am reminded of this continuously and pervasively every damn day that simply knowing is not good enough. 

I know I need to stop eating so much dang cheese. I know staying hydrated, at least 7 hours of sleep a night, and moving my body for at least 30 mins 3-4 times a week will vastly impact my overall well being. I know my meditation practice goes best when I stay consistent. Knowing this doesn’t change my behavior though. 

Our legislatures know that before the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was enacted in 1965, signed into law by President Johnson, there were three main concerns that continued to prevent education funding bills from being passed. The concerns were 1. regarding aid to private schools, 2. aid to segregated schools, and 3.federal control over K-12 education. (2017, Congressional Research Service) This was after World War II, when the Civil Rights Act banned federal funding to segregated programs, the concerns that aid would go to segregated elementary and secondary education was no longer a concern because they could not receive federal funding. This provides a historical context that these districts started behind and need help getting to an even playing field. Which propagated deeply racist policies.

Our legislatures also know that in 1966 Chester I. Lewis filed a complaint alleging segregation in the Wichita public school system violated the Civil Rights Act. 

Table Source: USD 259 District Composition

Our Police Departments know that in the 90’s broken windows policing strategies swept through the nation and began being implemented by local departments. Broken windows policing is a theory put into rotation by New York Mayor Guiliani. He theorized that cracking down on small infractions would decrease cases of serious offenses. These strategies disproportionately arrest black and brown people. Propagating deeply racist policies. 

In 2007 the Wichita Police Department handed out over 100,000 citations. Every time an officer pulled someone over they had to leave with a ticket. When Chief Ramsey joined the department in 2016 the citations went down to 40,000-50,000 citations in a year. We were seeing the broken window policing played out right here in Wichita, KS. We know this.

Our School System knows that schools with police officers (resource officers’) are 5x more likely to arrest kids for disorderly conduct than schools without officers. We also know that teachers are not culturally proficient or responsive to teach students that aren’t from a white, Anglo background. We can see this manifested in punishment being harsher for black and brown (indigenous) students and students with disabilities. Leading to higher rates of detention, suspension and expulsion for these students, disproportionately. We can no longer avoid holding the school systems accountable for not being able to address the racial achievement gap due to quality of curriculum and instruction vs. blaming the socio, economic or political environments.

Black students are 1.9 grades behind white students academically. Opportunities are also less likely to be given to black students. Black ad Hispanic students are, on average, less likely to be selected for gifted programs and take AP courses than their white peers. [source:Projects]

In Wichita School District 259 Native Americans and black students are 2.8x and 2.3x as likely to be suspended as white students, respectively. 

Things aren’t always as they seem. Look again.

Table Source

Our Cities know all of this and yet inequity still persists.

We know all these things but that has not changed behavior or systems. The passion and persistence of the community has. A fight that weighs heavy. 

It takes more than simply knowing. What are you doing about what you know?

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