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Aren’t we all prejudiced?

Bill Fox

Bill Fox

By Bill Fox/Columnist

Prejudice means having preconceived opinions that are not necessarily based on reason or actual experiences. Prejudices can lead to discrimination, hatred or even wars. Common features of prejudice may include negative feelings, stereotyped beliefs, and a tendency to discriminate against all members of a group.

When people hold prejudicial attitudes toward others, they tend to view everyone who fits into a certain group as being “all the same.” They paint every individual who holds particular characteristics or beliefs with a very broad brush and fail to really look at each person as a unique individual.

I believe we all have some prejudice. I know I can think of some examples where I had a prejudiced view.

I recall years ago seeing a group of youngsters who had body piercings and tattoos. Down deep I felt they had to be “losers.” There were no positive feelings about this group. I judged each of them as I did all of them because of their appearance.

Later in life, one of my own sons had a piercing on his nose, and another had a large tattoo of a fox on his back. Obviously I had to break down the stereotype I had previously thought about piercings and tattoos.

So, I am concerned that as a result of events in the USA, and even in Canada, some people are stereotyping all police officers as having the same characteristics of those officers that killed George Floyd.

I believe that in every profession there are some bad apples. I recall as a youngster with asthma, my mom had taken me to our family doctor, a well-respected veteran on medical boards in our community. A few days earlier another doctor had treated me with no success. Much to our surprise our family doctor asked us never to tell anyone, but he would not even take his dog to be treated by that initial doctor.

Likewise, for years I taught teachers in additional qualification courses and I would always start my classes by asking the young teachers why they got into teaching. Every year I would get responses like “l love youngsters,” or, “I love science and I want to share my love and enthusiasm for that subject with my students.”

However, one of my last years teaching the course I got this disappointing response: “I love having summers off as it allows me to pursue my interest in my band.” I found out later that this individual ended up with a non-teaching position. But again, in teaching and all occupations there can be individuals who do not live up to the standards we set for them.

Much to my amazement, I find now that I am being demonized as an “old white man.”

Recently on The View, an actress said, “Older white men are a problem, y’all, for everyone. We’re all at risk.”

Not to be outdone, entertainers have hopped on the demonizing-white-men bandwagon. Joy Behar, talking on ABC’s The View about American Republican Senators said, “These white men – old, by the way – are not protecting women. They’re protecting a man who is probably guilty.”

I recall a study done in the 1960’s where 100 white girls were brought into a room where they could choose to have any of the 100 white cabbage patch dolls, or any of the 100 black cabbage patch dolls. All of the white girls chose the white dolls. Then 100 black girls were allowed their choice as well. Every black youngster chose a white cabbage patch doll. I believe this was a result of systematic racism, which is still prevalent in much of our world today, which is very, very sad.

We need to build a bridge of hope and peace and understanding. I am encouraged that today many young people are leading the protests against racism in all its forms.

I would just ask that we all look at our own prejudices. Do we stereotype police, old folks, fat people, etc.? In Canada, in my view, as we have seen recently, we also have a problem with prejudice against Indigenous Canadians. We still have a long way to go after the protests subside.

I’m at trying to be more open-minded and less prejudiced.