March 15, 1990


Prejudice is opinion without judgement.

Voltaire, 1764

I figure that being prejudiced is the rule rather than the exception. We all grow up with it and it takes some learning not to show it. I'm not sure that we ever get over the disease; I know that I haven't. When I meet a member of my tribe, I assume that he is OK and he has to prove that he isn't. When I meet someone outside of my tribe, I expect him to prove to me that he is OK.

I grew up with bigotry. There were people who treated me as less than human and I learned to hate it. It took me a long time to get over my feelings of inferiority. Some of my peers dealt with the same problem by cultivating an attitude of superiority --more baloney.

I had a friend and colleague at the University of Utah who was a Ute Indian. I didn't know that he was an Indian until he told me. We were equals. When you think of someone as an Indian, Oriental, Black or White, you are automatically thinking of them as either inferior or superior. If they were equals, you wouldn't think of their nationality or skin color at all.

It's sort of the way we think of kids as not being quite human. The difference is that we expect kids to grow up and Kikes and Goyim, Niggers and Honkies, Indians and White Men, Spics and Gringos to stay the same.

I have been prejudiced for all of my life. It started when I was an infant and continues to this day. What's more, I have never met anyone who wasn't prejudiced. To not be prejudiced is impossible.

When we are young, there are people who take care of us; feed and bathe us, protect us and play with us. We grow up with images of these people and those images represent everything good. When we reach out to other people, we are in for a surprise. Everyone is not good like mama and papa.

In adolescence, a boy sees a girl who looks like his mother and he assumes that, like mama, she will be good to him. Then she humiliates him. A girl meets a boy who reminds her of papa. He uses her and throws her away like a Kleenex.

After that has happened several times, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that something doesn't make sense. If you reason it out, you come to the conclusion that what a person looks like tells you nothing about him.

After you've been cheated by a member of your own culture or religion, or treated kindly by a stranger, you realize that it is a universal law that you can't tell anything about anyone unless you know him well. Color, looks, religious afiliation, nationality, and so on, tell you virtually nothing.

You would think that this would end everyones built-in prejudices, but it doesn't. What's built in during childhood usuallly stays there. Some people keep walking into left hooks for all of their lives.

Others learn to be guided by reason; a very hard thing to do. They learn who, specifically, they can trust and who they can't. It has nothing to do with skin color, what nationality they are or what church they go to, or don't go to.

At the root of prejudice is the assumption of inferiority. It is just as prejudiced to say "he is inferior, so we should give him a break and give him the job." as it is to say "he is inferior, so we shouldn't give him the job" It is also prejudice to do the same thing on the assumption of superiority. A receptionist with an English accent stands a better chance of getting a telephone answering job because most people view the British as, in some way, superior. Some English people also buy that myth. Like "white is better", it's just one more hype job.

Prejudice is so pervasive in all societies that we rarely notice it. The male-female separation in sports is based on the assumption that a woman can't possibly be as good as a man. As if one's sex makes a difference in how accurately one can hit a golf or tennis ball. Yes, there is a true sex difference in muscle mass, which would be expected to affect those activities where strength or body mass is an important factor.

But, you say, aren't some people really superior or inferior? Sure, some individuals are a lot better at things than others, but it's usually independent of race or sex. Some groups produce more superior people in some areas. This is probably due to cultural differences. They are learned differences, not inate. While there are cultural differences, they tell you little about an individual.

A Nigerian university professor has more in common with an American university professor than he does with most of the people in the village where he was born. Who would you rather have lunch with: Bill Cosby or Joe Sixpack?

In terms of basic needs and desires, ALL people have more in common than they have differences.

Bigotry is built into the language: "what do you expect from a _______", and the ultimate insult, "we have to give him a job because he's a_________". It is the same crap that makes many of us give a begger charity; because he isn't as fortunate or as wonderful as we are. It makes us feel superior. And who doesn't like feeling superior?

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