During my preteens, I was completely ignorant to ethnic, cultural, and religious differences. I lived in a middle-class neighborhood where almost everyone was white and the only places of worship were Christian. This all changed when I left home at 15.
A prejudice is a preconceived belief, opinion, or judgment toward a group of people or a single person because of race, social class, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, disability, political beliefs, religion, line of work, or other personal characteristics. – Wikipedia
Like many people, I grew up in a broken home. My mother remarried but it was a bad match. When tensions reached the breaking point, I left home but the police quickly apprehended me. I was sent to jail, court, juvenile hall, and finally a boys’ home. I had not committed any crimes except leaving home, which is against the law before age 18.
The juvenile hall was in South Central Los Angeles, California (now called South Los Angeles). The majority of the inmates were black and Hispanic kids from poor neighborhoods. Many of them were gang members. It was a total culture shock. These were street harden kids from neighborhoods where violence was a normal part of daily life.
There were a number of incidents where I was the target of prejudice, racism, and hate simply because I was white. Having no prior direct experience with racial hatred, these confrontations confused me. My parents had taught us kids to appreciate everyone and no hate talk of any kind was allowed ever! I learned to hold my own in these situations, but I was left with a repressed bitterness that sometimes turned to prejudice for a long time.
The boy’s home had a more evenly mixed population, the offenses that brought the boys there were less severe, and we lived together in dorms for 1-3 years or more. In juvenile hall, the majority of the population slept in one-person cells and the length of stay was usually measured in weeks and in rare cases, like mine, months.
During my time at the boy’s home, I became close friends with guys of many different ethnicities, religions, and backgrounds than my own. I use the word ethnicity and not race because race has many negative meanings attached to it that I find offensive.
Without these experiences, I would not have grown to understand and appreciate other ethnicities. My prejudice feelings would have probably grown as well. Instead, I have always easily made friends with people from all ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Even though I thought of myself as not being prejudice, I discovered later that this was not entirely true due to some unresolved issues and my own ignorance. I still had some deeply repressed feelings of resentment and prejudice because of my experience in juvenile hall and other places that I didn’t realize and eliminate until I learned these things.
We all have each other’s genes
According to geneticists, most Americans have at least a few genes from the other ethnicities represented in the United States. Because the U.S. has been an ethnically diverse society for over 200 years, mathematical probabilities indicate that genetic mixing has occurred over the generations.
This means that we are all brothers and sisters in this tiny but crucial way. We all have each other’s genes in our bodies.
This has probably occurred in other countries with diverse populations as well. As nations become more open and communication and transportation systems evolve, genetic mixing will grow at a similar pace on a global basis.
Historians believe that Thomas Jefferson had an affair with one of his black female workers that resulted in the birth of a child. It is, of course, impossible for that child to be US President Obama, but he may have a few of Thomas Jefferson’s genes! And you may have a few genes from both Jefferson and his mistress.
If you have prejudice feelings against one or more ethnic groups then it is likely that you are hating people who have some of the same genes as you.
Advantages of genetic mixing
There are ethnicities that have developed a high resistance to particular diseases while others have a low resistance to other ones. The same is true of particular physical abnormalities and strengths.
As genetic mixing occurs, we gain a higher resistance to a broader range of diseases and greater physical capabilities. The weaker genes die out over time.
The cheetah is one of the most genetically pure animals on earth. Consequently, it is very susceptible to unusual diseases. This fact could lead to its extinction.
Scientists believe that we have a built-in sexual attraction to people who look different from ourselves because of the biological advantage of genetic mixing. So the more diverse a society is and the more mixing that occurs within it, the stronger and more disease-resistant the population will be.
Since prejudice people are usually strongly against mixed marriages, from a scientific point of view we can presume that they will eventually die out. 🙂
Homogeneous societies are missing out
Having grown up in reportedly one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the world, Southern California, I cannot imagine living in a society where the people, food, music, religion, architecture, and recreation are all the same!
I love having access to the foods and cultures of many ethnicities and nationalities. I feel sorry for people in repressive, closed societies who only have one choice when it comes to religion, education, and lifestyle. If they deviate from these strict norms, they can face being socially ostracized, rejected by their family, or even put to death. I cannot imagine how they must feel living in an environment like that. It is probably the same for them in that they cannot imagine living in a free and open society.
Clearly, the strength of the United States was created by the collective contributions of so many different ethnicities, cultures, and religions. How else can you explain the incredible amount of innovation that has occurred in the U.S. in its relatively short existence?
In the U.S. and other countries with significant diversity, we all benefit by having the ability to learn each other’s unique skills, talents, and ways of living.
If you are prejudice, you are creating a homogeneous mindset that greatly limits your ability to learn and enjoy life.
Truly great men and women are never prejudice
I do not know of any truly great men or women who are prejudice. Actually, they are usually the opposite. They promote equality and tolerance.
Hate destroys the hater. Look at what happened to Hitler. He’s the quintessential example of this. The good people of the world from all nations and religious beliefs cannot allow this kind of thing to ever happen again.
Knowledge, understanding, tolerance, and love give men and women the power to bring about incredible positive changes. Look at what Abraham Lincoln; Mahatma Gandhi; John F. Kennedy; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Robert F. Kennedy; Cesar Chavez, and Nelson Mandel accomplished. Yes, prejudice people assassinated all but two of them, but their legacy will live on forever! Each of us is now benefiting from what these great men gave their lives to achieve.
Choose love over hate and prejudice and become truly great in your part of the world.
Fear and ignorance bring about prejudice
It’s easier to hate than love. Love requires courage. Hate is a coward’s way of getting back at what they are afraid of without having to face it. And fear is usually caused by ignorance.
Ignorance is the state in which one lacks knowledge, is unaware of something or chooses to subjectively ignore information. – Wikipedia
Once you get to know the people who you are prejudice against, your fear and hate will disappear. You might even create a friendship that is enhanced by your differences. A great movie that shows how this can happen is “Remember the Titans.”
Prejudice is a coward’s way of avoiding responsibility
Being prejudice is a way to point blame at others for your own circumstances. It’s a coward’s way to avoid taking 100% responsibility for their own life.
Hating a group of people because they are of a different ethnicity, nationality, or religious faith is a coward’s way of compensating for their own shortcomings.
This is the way misguided leaders manipulate people into following a hateful cause. They start by blaming another ethnicity, religion, or country for the problems that exist. This allows them to avoid taking personal responsibility. Then they fabricate a hateful message that is injected with twisted religious and patriotic doctrine.
Choose courage and love. Reject cowardice and hate.
Widespread prejudice is created through brainwashing
Feelings of prejudice are often instilled in people by the hateful and ignorant messages delivered by parents, friends, or national leaders. If a person continually listens to these messages without questioning their validity, they allow themselves to become brainwashed. They end up believing what they are told without having any facts or direct experience to support it.
Brainwashing, the application of coercive techniques to change the values and beliefs, perceptions and judgments, and subsequent mindsets and behaviors of one or more people, usually for political, financial, personal, or religious purposes. – Wikipedia
Sometimes a single bad experience will cause a person to become prejudice against an entire group or organization. This behavior is the negative form of stereotyping. Stereotyping is a generalization or assumption that a person makes about the characteristics of all members of a group based on an experience, image, or communication from others (often wrong) about what people in that group are like.
There are stories throughout history where a leader caused extreme hardship or death to a particular group of people by brainwashing the citizens and/or abusing his or her powers. In many cases, a single incident or indoctrination by a person of perceived authority during youth was the start of the leader’s hateful feelings.
Hitler’s hate started because he believed that a Jewish professor was responsible for him being denied entry into art school. He went on to brainwash German citizens into believing that the Jews — and other so-called inferior people — were the cause of their problems. His hate was so intense and insane that he even convinced people to exterminate MILLIONS of human beings.
Do not ever allow a hateful message or the bad behavior of one person (or a few) to convince you to hate an entire group of people. Think for yourself. Hate has never lead to anything good, but love always has.
Prejudice is of no value or use to intelligent and good-hearted people.
U2’s song “One” says it all. I don’t know whether this song was written with the issue of prejudice in mind, but it certainly seems that way to me. Please let me know if this MP3 goes dead here.