Monday, 7 June 2010

Prejudice



Prejudice could be seen to be a matter of perception.  It's sometimes used, often unwittingly, as a moral compass, an inner guide to how we would rather or rather not not live our lives.  Prejudice may be a fear of the unknown or a mistrust of those things we do not understand.

It can be overt, a spoken or written phrase than cannot be revoked. 

It is probaly more usually hidden.  You didn't get invited to that gathering because of something that's beyond your immediate control.  You were pipped to the post in that job interview because your face didn't really fit.  In such cases, how would we know that we had ever experienced prejudice?  We may not want to address such issues as they arise, loathe to cultivate a sense of victimhood.  I simply wasn't asked to the party because they don't like me, I didn't get the job because someone else was more qualified.

Have you experienced prejudice?  Did you understand why? What emotions did it evoke in you? Did you re-evalute yourself, your situation or the person expressing the prejudice? 

Have you ever been prejudiced against someone else for reasons you can or can't explain?

2 comments:

  1. I remember when I was 14 we put our house up for sale. My family was out for a bit and a lovely couple came up to see it. They were friendly, well dressed, and they were interested in our home. I began talking to them easily when my parents drove up. My Dad jumped out of the car and I said "They are interested in buying our home". He quickly said it was already bought and whisked them along. After they left he yelled at me. "We aren't going to sell our home to a bunch of Niggers." I was not really surprised once I thought about it, given that I grew up in that home, but it began an internal dialog as to why I had not reacted the same once seeing them.

    Growing up on Naval bases we lived with everyone in the housing areas. No discrimination was allowed, even at that time, so I had kids of all colors and religions to play with every day. Once we were out of the Navy my school in WV was very different. I invited the black girls to my slumber party & the white girls were not allowed to sleep in the same room as the blacks. I did. We all piled up in my room & I was so angry I refused to socialize with the white girls. It was a social disaster and the talk of the town. My father punished me.

    All these events have made me acutely aware of all forms of prejudice. I'm aware that I carry some, not against color, but against political affiliations. This is why I have forged ahead on friendships with people who are openly conservative. It may sound silly, but I'm very political so this is a huge step for me. It has forced me to look at myself in an honest fashion. I find that a difficult yet rewarding challenge.

    I took pictures of my wall of ancestors to post on Twitter for everyone. As I took a picture of my Great Grandmother and what I thought was my Great Aunt I realized that it was not my Aunt at all. When I blew it up on my computer I could see it clearly. She was a lighter skinned black girl. This had to have been a picture of GGM and her "girl". 1920's in TN was a time of legal slavery. I'm sure she was paid pennies for her labor, and I had heard tales that my GGM was a stern mean woman and I just imagined what her life must have been.

    I started to cry.

    http://twitpic.com/1tkcf9

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  2. In 1999 my then fiancé (now ex-husband) and I were flat hunting around Bristol- the flat we were in was being sold and we were given a month’s notice to move out. We had real problems finding somewhere, but a week before we had to move went to view a garden flat in Cotham. As we drove down the Gloucester Road I remember saying to my then partner “We should take our nose rings out”. Both of us had pierced noses at the time...whether it was my sixth sense kicking in, or, more likely, a sense of desperation to find somewhere and not want to be judged on appearance...which has happened me to me so many times in the past...We saw the flat, the woman immediately warmed to us and said it was ours if we wanted it, despite the queue of other prospective tenants. The next time we saw her was after arrangements had been made and deposits had been paid. We both had our nose rings back in by this point. She reacted very strongly: “Oh, if I’d known you had those...it reminds me of when my father used to keep pigs...”. She was rudest landlady I have ever encountered after that.

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