Prejudice

This is going to be both political and religious. Deal with it. When I was trying to choose a photo, I found this lovely color-wheel of wood-grains. Isn’t it beautiful?color wheel

I’ve just read yet another article about the current racism firestorm in America. Here’s my take: the entire situation makes me ill.

 

Merriam Webster defines prejudice:

1 : injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one’s rights; especially : detriment to one’s legal rights or claims
2 a (1) : preconceived judgment or opinion (2) : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge b : an instance of such judgment or opinion c : an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics

 

racism is defined:

1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
2 : racial prejudice or discrimination

 

So racism is a particular type of discrimination. For what it is worth, if you want to know my views on racism they’re simple: it’s evil. That said, I have a problem with many of my country’s solutions to prejudice. Why? Because they perpetuate the belief that there is a wide-spread racism issue in this country. Now before you blast me for being blind — read on.

I think what we have in this country is a wide-spread problem with prejudice, not just racism. Talk to older people and they will speak of age discrimination. Speak with the young and they will talk about how hard it is to get respect or a job, because they are young. Speak with members of any race, gender, … let’s be open for a brief moment. Just because some groups are more vocal and have experienced prejudice in more visibly horrific ways, does not invalidate other people’s experiences of this misery.

I do not think I have met anyone who has not experienced prejudice in some way. Racism is merely a piece of the puzzle. As we work to teach young people to have pride in their _____ (fill in the blank: race, sexual orientation, religion, economic upbringing, whatever…) we are perpetuating the problem, and I suspect making it worse. I’ve read reports that anti-segregation laws have done both good and bad. How sad. How sad that something meant for good could go wrong…but that is often the way with humanity.

What is the real problem, in my overly pompous point of view? I think it is a lack of respect for other people. Any other people.

What if people were only hired for a job based on their qualifications to do the job? What if we ignored race, age, etc. and just decided if a person was best for the position based on the job? Wouldn’t that make sense? Wouldn’t an employer hiring the best person for the job be best served?

What if, in exchange for demanding respect for our own viewpoints, we offered respect for others’? Now before this is mis-construed, I want to be clear: I’m not suggesting we lose our identities to a homogeneous point of view. I’m suggesting we have respect for others’ views as we would like them to have respect for ours.

When I studied anthropology, one of the first things I learned is that each and every person has a bias, or more specifically: a unique background.

My background influences how I see the world around me. To be honest and fair in my research, I have to be open to other backgrounds. I’ve been blessed to have multi-cultural exposure in my life. I’ve met (and call friends) people of different races, language groups, religions, educational and economic backgrounds. And yes, even a variety of sexual orientations.

God likes rainbows. So do I.

Do I agree with all of the opinions and beliefs my friends hold? No! Are there some that I struggle to be comfortable with? Yes! Do I believe they should have the freedom to hold those beliefs? Yes!

With regards to race, I read a comment on a blog recently where someone suggested that if we removed anti-discrimination laws some businesses would begin to refuse service to certain races. I may be an idealist, but I would like to believe that such businesses would quickly have a shocking realization: our culture is one of rich diversity. Limit your customers and you limit your prospects.

What IF they had a race-war in America — and nobody showed up? Such a flippant comment for such a heated and powerful subject. And yet — what if it were true? What if we decided not to play this political game? I’m sick of hearing this organization or that characterized as racist. This is a word thrown around by politicians to excuse their own prejudice.

No, I don’t think we have a wide-spread problem with racism in America. What I think we have is a lack of respect.

And yes, my friends, you’re free to disagree with me. But do it respectfully, will ya?

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