First Published 2016/01/02 on http://www.fullft.com
Racism and prejudice are very different, yet can be just as destructive and often fuel and overlap each other. Often the terms are misused or even misunderstood. The Oxford English dictionary defines prejudice as a “preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience”
I am going to focus on prejudice or as the title asks – are you Prejudice? Even though they are different they inherit the same roots, which is largely based on ignorance.
In recent times I have heard a lot of …. “they are a racist” or “they are very prejudice” – people pointing the finger at others. Take for example the recent Brexit vote in the UK. This has lead to unrest in communities where some people seem to feel the need to point fingers and blame someone. The remainers blaming the leavers and vice versa. Recently there has been a frightening increase in racial abuse and attacks running up to the vote and after the results.
In the same breath, there has been a rise of prejudice as some members of each group of the campaigns as they accuse each other across social media of hate. Largely tarring one group or the other and everyone in it with the same brush. Been one person who voted to remain I have to watch this path carefully. Yes, there are good and bad in every walk of life but I believe that most people who voted are decent people.
For one to point at another and say “ they are a racist” or “they are prejudice” it would appear to be a clear proclamation that they, in turn, are not one themselves. This is the pride or perhaps ignorance of thinking they are not. But have we really dared to self-examine our own pride and prejudices?
We all have our likes and dislikes and even though one may say I am not prejudice – this may well serve to be the key thought that makes us ignorant of been able to see our own flaws. It is a bit like saying I do not judge – but we all make judgments.
In other words, if we want to root out racism we really need to root out our own prejudices in ourselves first.
Take hard long, honest look in the mirror.
Ask yourself this – Is there a subculture in our society that makes you feel uncomfortable – from the homeless person upon the streets to the successful professional? It may be age dependent or a cultural expression, a certain dress sense or style that irritates you the moment you see it. It does not mean you negatively act on it but it shapes the way you respond to what you see.
The same or similar thoughts may be of race or cultures even those of you who may inherently stand against racism. Ask yourself this long overdue question whilst you are looking in the mirror. Is there a race or culture that you shy away from or are perhaps weary of or typecast?
The point of this exercise is to get us to look at ourselves – looking at our own fall shorts. Challenging our pride and prejudices. Asking yourself – how have I developed such emotions or thinking? Is it inherited or based upon fear or ignorance or media led? Once you have done this short exercise you may find your views are founded on ignorance.
The key to communities coming together is through education, tolerance, sharing, and understanding. We have to hold the mirror up to our own hearts and stop fighting each other. We need to be able to see our own faults and flaws and prejudices and only then can truly overcome them and stand a chance of helping others effectively.
When we see our own faults, our own pride, and prejudices in our own hearts or minds that we have disliked and hated by others, we can choose to change. We will be able to act from a place of understanding, acceptance, love, compassion, and tolerance. We can and will build communities that come together to celebrate each other uniqueness.
If you are or like to be committed to standing against prejudice and overcome racism, start by holding the mirror up to your own heart.