“Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. Our mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity. Racism can, will, and must be defeated.” -Kofi Annan-
The definition of prejudice is “an affective feeling towards a person or group member based solely on their group membership. The word is often used to refer to preconceived, usually unfavorable, feelings towards people or a person because of their sex, gender, beliefs, values, social,class, age, disability, religion, sexuality, race/ethnicity, language, nationality, beauty, occupation, education, or other personal characteristics. In this case, it refers to a positive or negative evaluation of another person based on their perceived group membership.” (Fiske, 2010). Prejudice can be originated and be reinforced though a number of different environmental sources like media, education, society, parents or other influential adults views, living in a religiously of racially homogenous, peers, lack of contact with other (ignorance), community, and so on.
Then, why do some people grow up to be white supremacists, racists, or bigoted towards people who are different whereas others do not? I strongly believe that prejudice is mainly caused by ignorance and by the tendency to overgeneralize. Hitler is a good example to show that the source of prejudice is ignorance or a person’s unwillingness to understand others. Hitler travelled voluntarily very little before the great war. He did spend some time in Belgium and France, during World War I, but that, of course, was not of his own volition. He moved to Germany from Austria, and that was it. In my opinion, a lack of experience caused Hitler’s ignorance and the prejudice caused by ignorance incurred a disaster for mankind. Thus, exposure to various experience and willingness to understand others make difference between people who are white supremacists, racists, or bigoted towards people who are different and people who can embrace diversity.
Therefore, if someone ask how to raise a child who is free of bias or animosity toward people in other group, I will encourage parents to expose their child to various experiences in order to let the child know that human beings are all alike and equal in broaden sense. I cannot say that I don’t have any prejudice but I believe that I am less prejudiced. This might be because I have experienced many cultures and races both directly and indirectly. I traveled to nearly 30 countries; most European countries, China, Cambodia, Japan, and so one. Two years ago, I traveled Europe for 8 months. In addition, I lived in New Zealand for two years when I was 12 years old and I grew up watching documentaries because of my curious father. I was able to observe and learn various cultures and races while traveling or watching documentaries and these experiences led me to conclude that humans are all alike in a big context. Of course, there was a difference in the small context and they may seem strange and unfamiliar at first, but in the end, I realized that the characteristics of each culture and race were valuable and worth respecting. In similar context, we can also reduce prejudice by experiencing various things and being educated though it has already developed. Furthermore, taking course on prejudice, recategorizing, being aware that everybody is prejudiced and biased in some way, and making a cross-race friend can reduce developed prejudices. For example, “common ingroup identity model” shows that when we are able to recategorize other people according to features or characteristics that we share, we are more likely to see them as part of “us,” and are therefore less likely to show prejudice towards them (Mendoza-Denton, 2011). The quote I liked the most about reducing prejudice is “If you looked and looked at all of the solutions proposed by scientists over the years to combat prejudice and racism, you’d be hard pressed to find a more effective antidote than intergroup friendship.”