How Can We Overcome Prejudice

How Can We Overcome Prejudice - How Can We Overcome...

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How Can We Overcome Prejudice? You may have already wondered, what’s the differences in prejudice, stereotypes, and my own personal preferences? I had a student ask me, “If I don’t like Chinese food, does that make me prejudiced?” I think this was a sincere question. I explained that it does not make her prejudiced to simply prefer one food over another, one genre of film over another, or one style of car over another. See the Figure 4 below. Figure 4. The Difference Between Personal Preferences, Prejudices, and Stereotypes The best way to understand prejudiced thinking is to understand the concept of categorical thinking. Categorical Thinking is the human cognitive process of storing and retrieving information in sections of our memory that are highly associated with one another. For example, read this list: awake, dream, snore, bed, eat, slumber, sound, wake, and night. Now pick the single best word that categorically fits into this list: computer, wheel, or sleep. Most of my students pick sleep because it so highly related to the original list of concepts. The point is, we think in associations and categories. That’s why if you get wheeled into an emergency room with a fever, side ache, perspiration, and nausea that suddenly hit, doctors suspect Appendicitis. Categorical thinking saves lives, helps you to pass tests, and keeps students employed when their bosses see them as good employees. It is true that categorical thinking makes it so we can function, but it also is the thinking process which underlies prejudice and stereotypes in our relationships. The key is to control categorical thinking, prejudices, and stereotypes. First, you have to do some self-analysis and discover where you might have learned your prejudices. Many people are taught prejudice from: family, friends, teachers, religious leaders, television, internet, and other agents and agencies of socialization. It’s feels strange to think that family might teach other family members to be prejudiced, but this may be one of the more
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common sources. In the 1949 musical, South Pacific, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, wrote a gutsy song called “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught…to hate and fear, to be afraid. .and to hate all the people your relatives hate.” (retrieved 12 June, 2008 from For the year 1949, this was in truth a very gutsy song that proved to be way ahead of its time. Yet, it impacted a great many people who watched the movie. Without knowing that science would someday prove these lyrics to be true as a far as how children do come to be prejudiced, Rodgers and Hammerstein were years in front of the Civil Rights movement in the US. Socialization of Prejudice is learning prejudice from people we look up to (family, relatives,
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How Can We Overcome Prejudice - How Can We Overcome...

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