What makes our prejudices evil, are when we act in ways others are hurt.
The first step in ending racism and other forms of prejudice is accepting it lives in all of us.
The most prejudiced people I know think they are tolerant or that their prejudices are justifiable. Witness the name-calling and divisiveness in today’s political arena. Science knows we are hard-wired to fear the unknown. Doing so is a useful survival tool.
I remember once returning from Lily-White Vermont and getting on a Philadelphia subway train to be greeted by only black faces. Terror took over my brain, but only for a few seconds. I was greeted by people moving aside and someone offering me his seat. The more we mingle the more tolerant we grow.
Because we were foster parents and the youngsters placed with us a diverse crew, I learned a great deal about the need to mingle.
Another link in our prejudices remains personal experiences with the “other,” particularly, if such experiences are harmful.
Once upon a time, I mingled in Harlem and the South Bronx with no fear. Then there was the more recent day, when in Harlem, I was chased and called names by a young angry black man. I had asked him for directions and when I started to follow them, I realized he was mis-leading me. When he saw I got that, he started the name-calling and chasing. I mingled less as a result.
As a Facebook friend recently noted, “Being assaulted by a member of a group you champion in the name of tolerance is the first step to becoming a conservative.”
There is another more subtle way prejudices develop. The voices that surround you, and which of those you agree with.
My maternal grandmother was a prejudiced snob. Not uncommon for her time; how she was raised. She liked to pass herself off as a relative of Alexander Hamilton. She conveniently forgot he was the bastard child of a Jewish mother.
She hated my father, a gentle and man from the South who fought the prejudices he had been raised to believe in. I loved my father and identified with him. By the time I was seven or hate, I hated my grandmother and what she stood for. So why you are thinking about your prejudices also think about your heroes and villains and what they stand for.
HOW TO FIGHT PREJUDICE
1. Be self-aware.
2. Be understanding. One of my main prejudices is against prejudice. I can get self-rightous in judging others. Not helpful.
3. Read more about other cultures, other people.
4. Promote critical thinking. Prejudice is steeped in emotional reasoning and lots of hard brain work is needed to control it.
5. Mingle more.
6. Make a daily effort to combat all prejudices. I do that be writing this blog; by calling out prejudice, but also by what I post on Social Media.
THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO.
P.S. Practice kindness by reading, liking, commenting or sharing this post. Think about buying one of my eBooks. They cost less than a latte, last longer, and are healthier. Go to Katherine Gordy Levine’s Author Page in other to see what is available.
P.S.S. These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.