Prejudice And Racism Will Always Exist But Gaining A New Perspective Could Reverse Some Of The Damage

We all have prejudice and racism in us to a certain point. It’s human nature, especially when people haven’t been personally exposed to another set of individuals.  Typically, racism is viewed as prejudice, which involves views and actions against members of an ethnic group, those of different sexual and religious orientation, and of course, gender.  

Sociologist Robin DiAngelo said changing racial bias is challenging. For example, he noted that many white people are socialized into “white fragility;” this weakness included their inclination to become angry and more sensitive [negative] in response to racism.

For decades, there have been examples of racism, which makes this issue tricky and convoluted, mainly when people refuse to own their prejudiced ways.  The renowned play Othello by William Shakespeare was a black man who fell in love with a white woman and suffered the consequences.  “A very famous play In the very first scene, Roderigo and Iago disparage in explicitly racial terms, calling him, among other things, “Barbary horse” and “thick lips.” In nearly every case, the prejudiced characters use terms that describe Othello as an animal or beast.”

 In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was accused of allowing attacks against his own people, who challenged the majority thinking on specific issues. “But under Modi, India’s ethos is Hindu, and peace and brotherhood requires religious minorities to know their place,” wrote Priya Chacko. “It is this sort of Hindu nationalism that led to the attacks on Muslims, their homes, schools, and their places of worship.” And many white Americans view certain urban white people as “poor white trash.” We often accredit several traits to people when we stereotype them and assign them to a group that we view as dumb, ugly, repulse, etc. 

Meaning of prejudice and how it relates to social prejudice

Stereotyping is closely related to prejudice.  In 1922Journalist Walter Lippmann introduced the term after he used it in the printing business.  Stereotypes often limit and disregard people’s individuality. Additionally, it creates profound negative and disparaging assumptions.

“The scar tissue of hate and racism is everywhere. A 2005 study by the U.S. Department of Justice estimated there are about 191,000 hate crimes incidents per year,” wrote Margaret Mitchell, President & CEO, YWCA Greater Cleveland. “How many more times will mourners need to gather at candlelight vigils or march for justice as the result of racism and hate?”

How the tendency to categorize leads to stereotyping

The inclination to label our experience into groups is fundamental and universal. We develop concepts to make sense of never-ending complexity. If we didn’t create categories, we would live a life full of confusion. 

Is in-group identification natural?

According to many studies, people accredit positive traits to their “in-group” than to the “outgroups.”  In Pakistan, there are many Pakistanis who are primary Muslims, but those who are Christians and Hindus are the largest minority groups, and because their views differ, there’s major issues. “Muslims and Christians mostly co-exist amiably enough without frequent outbreaks of animosity,” an author from the BBC wrote. “But accusations of blasphemy have also often led to mob violence against Christians, while militant Islamists have also targeted the community.”

While I presume racism and prejudice will always exist, I would be neglectful if I didn’t suggest ways that others have mentioned that might reduce the severity of racism. 

Cross-group friendship

A positive relationship with members from different groups can reduce negative stereotypes. In this regard, having close friends from “out-groups” is essential. Notably, it might be challenging to hold negative views of a person with different skin, gender, sexual orientation, or other factors that might lead to prejudice, when interacting often.  

Solutions to social prejudice

In the 1950s, Gordon Allport developed a hypothesis about targeting intergroup contact. He suggested that when intergroup groups allow outgroup contact, this could produce favourable conditions, such as cooperation towards common goals, positive interaction between groups, and better understanding of cultural norms. 

A review published in 2003 by Stephen Wright and Donald Taylor agreed that when individuals recognize their prejudicial attitudes, this opens the possibility to challenge faulty thinking.  Additionally, empathy is a powerful solution to prejudice, they say. Individuals who can empathize with other people’s feelings  might has less difficulties with letting go of their prejudice views. Also, identifying and re-evaluating negative thoughts might be of benefit.

The bottom line

Prejudice of any kind has adverse effects and it is our responsibility to push back against prejudice as much as possible.

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