I grew up pretty much immersed in the French culture (since the country I was born in was colonized by France) but also Hollywood (movies) and american HIP HOP music. The books we read were all french, american or belgian (Tintin, Superman, Mickey Mouse…) and black people were either nonexistent or depicted as bushmen with massive red lips hunting wild animals. Even though that was not the Africa I knew (bushmen half naked hunting, starving children…), I was not too offended because I assumed that they did not know. Another aspect of common sense was that white means intelligent, smart, rich and prosperous, while black meant poor, dumb, unable to innovate. Even though there were writers and philosophers from the Republic of Congo, we barely studied them or their works. On the curriculum it was the truth from France that mattered the most.
Because I grew up travelling a lot (mainly to Europe), I was aware of many people’s cultures and ways of doing things. So I was able to socialize (on a very personal level) with many foreigners settled in the country. Indeed the Republic of Congo is an oil producer, so we find lots of europeans, americans, canadians, and chinese corporations.
Seeing an American or an European was therefore not a big deal, they were everywhere. However, I still had many stereotypes, regarding mainly countries I hadn’t yet visited. Canada for instance, I thought was a land of snow and only snow: snowy forest, a cottage in the middle of it, and someone outside cutting wood. I was so surprised when I googled Toronto and saw skyscrapers. And it goes on with several cultures/countries.
The biases I might be bringing to the classroom will be due to lack of knowlege. I might be biased towards countries I haven’t visited yet and cultures I haven’t yet been in contact with. Travelling I think is a great weapon against stereotypes and biases, if not the greatest. One could read books or watch movies but still can be very biased. Taking the opportunity to talk to people we don’t really know (about) and asking questions is also in my opinion another weapon. Better take those informations from themselves than CNN or Fox News, or a book written by another biased person (like most European books I read growing up showing Africans half naked or starving).