This is one of the toughest subjects to deal with: Prejudice. We all are, to different levels. So, when we talk about how to deal with prejudice from others, we have to remember that we are these “others,” and other people have to figure out how to deal with us when our prejudices surface.
So, What about you? Are you prejudice?
A good answer to this question is “How can I know?” prejudice people do not see themselves as prejudice. So, their answer to this question will almost immediately be “No!”
So, you think you are not prejudice? Let us test that: Do you have any preconceived notions about a nation? a religion? a race? a city or country? Preconceived notion is a stereotype where you make assumptions about a person based on their profile and background. Any stereotype where you generalize a rule about a group of people based on love, hate, previous experiences whether good or bad, that is prejudice.
The problem with prejudice is that it can start with what seems like a light-hearted joke. Of course it would be better when the joke is about others, not you. Then it would be funnier. So, a joke that Stereotypes Muslims will be judged as poor taste by a Muslim. But what if someone made the joke about Christians? or Buddhists? would someone from a different religion find the joke as tasteless? or they might giggle a bit?
Prejudice is no joke however. Wars and crimes against humanity have been perpetrated because of prejudice. Prejudice has a domino effect. The prejudiced becomes prejudice and the chain continues throughout until sometimes nations become prejudice. A sad story comes to mind:
A girl was being harassed by a passer-by in a dark alley, the harassment got too serious and the aggressor became physical. She screamed, and the attacker ran away. She wanted to report the harassment, as it was her duty, as she had a good look at the man who did this. At the police station, she gave her statement to the police officer, who half jokingly told her that he cannot blame the aggressor, given how beautiful she is. The poor girl went home feeling more violated by the police officer than by the aggressor. “I felt I was treated as an object not a human being, the way the officer was staring at me.” The girl was visiting from another country and the stereotype about girls from that country is that they are promiscuous. I wonder how much the perpetrator and the corrupt police officer acted upon a prejudice. They did not even consider that they hurt a human being, who probably has more honor than both of them combined. Do you think they see it that way?
The story does not end there. The girl goes back home and I wonder, how will she look at people from the country where she was attacked? Will she feel that she was a victim of a criminal and a corrupt cop? or will she cast all the people from the country she was visiting abusers? Imagine how much such incidents can lead to more hate and more prejudice that can spread and get nurtured even more by other similar stories.
We need to revisit our preconceived notions and our prejudices and be honest with ourselves. It takes very high level of awareness and presence to observe our own prejudices. It will be painful in the beginning, but it is an eye opener and can open the way to understanding self by the way we see others. Finally, here is a quick lighthearted quiz to help one determine if and how prejudiced they are http://www.blogthings.com/areyouprejudicedquiz/