Prejudice is Natural, Discrimination is Not.

Through this paper I hope to express that prejudice are natural; however, we have choice in how we deal with our natural emotions. I was inspired to write this paper, in part by a quote in chapter 6 of (Jonas,Danceing)

"On the assumption that excercise would reduce the death rate, the captains of slave ships sought to protect their investment by haveing sailors lash the captives with a cat-o'-nine tales to force them to "hump up and rattle their chains"; this form of "exercise" was called "dancing the slaves"."

We will travel through this topic first, in a definition of terms; Second, a listing of the eight major ways we treat each other differently; Then, a explanation and understanding of where prejudice comes from and overcoming it - with real examples throughout. Lastly, we will close with a conclusion to wrap up the large points of this paper.


In order to talk about a delicate issue like peoples personal prejudices, it is important that we first come to an understanding of terms/ meanings of words. Underlined sections are the specific definitions I will tend to use + I will add commentary after each definition.

prej·u·dice ( prµj"…-d¹s) n. 1. a. An adverse judgment or opinion formed beforehand or without knowledge or examination of the facts. See note at predilection . b. A preconceived preference or idea. 2. The act or state of holding unreasonable preconceived judgments or convictions. 3. Irrational suspicion or hatred of a particular group, race, or religion. (AHT Dictionary)

The first definition of this word and many surrounding it state negatives like: "An adverse judgment" and "Irrational suspicion or hatred". Now I would like to take a second and break this word apart - prejudice = pre - judice or in other words judging before knowing. Now is this always in the form of hate? Aversion? or Suspicion? Do we sometimes show prejudice favorably? For example: "She is a Dr. she must know." or "He is a Kennedy. He's probably a prince."

Within this paper prejudice will be used as in its origins "from the Latin noun praejudicium , which means "a judgment based on previous decisions formed before the facts were known."" (P&F McKissack,13)

dis·crim·i·na·tion ( d¹-skr¹m"…-n³"sh…n) n. 1. The act of discriminating. 2. The ability or power to see or make fine distinctions; discernment. 3. Treatment or consideration based on class or category rather than individual merit; partiality or prejudice:

" It's necessary to eliminate all forms of sexual discrimination " (US Pres. Jimmy Carter) (AHT Dictionary)

Discrimination is the actual treatment or action for or against an individual based on the prejudice or groupings one puts upon the other. In other words - if I act out my pre judgments or stereotypes and my actions effect another human being I am discriminating.

An Ex slave once said that she was told to ""Dance through the streets and act lively" in order to attract buyers."" (Jonas,6) if she did not, most assuraly her punishment would be past severe.

ster·e·o·type ( stµr"¶-…-tºp", stîr "-) n. 1. A conventional, formulaic, and oversimplified conception, opinion, or image. (AHT Dictionary)

" Regional stereotypes have been part of America since its founding. . . . Westerners are trendy, Midwesterners are dull, Northeasterners are brainy, and Southerners are lazy " (Brad Edmondson)

When I think of different groups stereotypes quickly come to my head; Native Americans, Hispanics, Arabs, Jews, Mormons - do any come to yours? What are some stereotypes you know? Are some of them based in truth? Are there "exceptions" to the rules?

"Here are some common stereotypes about the elderly.

(Rachel Kranz, 96)

race 1 ( r³s) n. 2. A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution: the German race. 3. A genealogical line; a lineage. 4. Human beings considered as a group. (AHT Dictionary)

Dr. Ron Holt Professor of Anthropology at Weber State University has stated on many occasions "Race is a sick, confused notion. There are no such things as races among humans." {SIC}I have yet to see how my friend Shahene or my friend Loretta are different races then I. The differences aren't great enough to constitute that. My definition for race is as number 4. Race is a series of Human choices dealing with how to break ourselves from everyone else. most commonly by skin color or region, but might have the far reaches of blue eyes and green eyes or giants and dwarfs.

ra·cism ( r³"s¹z"…m) n. 1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others. 2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race. (AHT Dictionary)

Racism is tied to race and stereotyping as discrimination was tied to prejudice. For example: Once I accept the Idea that there are different races among humans it is easy to clump groups together and form stereotypes. Once I accept my stereotypes, and maybe even find people in other groups who fit my stereotype it is easy to believe that everyone else is "weird" and my group is normal; not only normal but better.

big·ot ( b¹g"…t) n. 1. One who is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.

[French from Old French] Notes: A bigot may have more in common with God than one might think. Legend has it that Rollo, the first duke of Normandy, refused to kiss the foot of the French king Charles III, uttering the phrase bi got, his borrowing of the assumed Old English equivalent of our expression by God. Although this story is almost certainly apocryphal, it is true that bigot was used by the French as a term of abuse for the Normans, but not in a religious sense. Later, however, the word, or very possibly a homonym, was used abusively in French for the Beguines, members of a Roman Catholic lay sisterhood. From the 15th century on Old French bigot meant " an excessively devoted or hypocritical person. " Bigot is first recorded in English in 1598 with the sense " a superstitious hypocrite. " (AHT Dictionary)

This is one place where I highly differ from many "race- relation" advocates. At first read, the definition of bigot would show that having strong ties to your own group is a negative choice. Many diversity experts would agree; say that we should all strive towards making America the melting pot of the world, Within which we all come together and make a perfect unity of mankind.

However I have found that knowing my heritage and keeping my cultural ties helps me understand the world that I am a part of and also helps me to have more empathy for others. So being caught in this limbus I had to find a way out.

A new theory that is catching/has caught on is the notion of a salad bowl rather than a melting pot. In a salad bowl a tomato stays a tomato and a pepper stays a pepper, cheese is still cheese and radishes make the salad divine. They all work together as they create the salad. Each ingredient added changes the flavor but it all tends to work together. Add an egg... different flavor - maybe a different kind of salad, but it still holds it's own and can work with the other parts.

If I ate a salad, unmixed, all of the onions in the bowl were here and the carrots were in a mound over there and all I was given on my plate was a stack of broccoli - it wouldn't be bad, but I might be missing out.

After having the terms and a general idea out of the way I would like to spend a few minutes talking about the ways in which we treat each other differently.

"There are eight major ways we tend to group people.

Ways we place people in races or stereo typical categories and

make generalizations about them.


A big question I am often asked is: is prejudice natural. Lets look at where prejudice might come from: I am an early pre-civilization hunter/gatherer type human and I eat a red berry off of a bush. Soon after eating this berry I get sick, so now I form a prejudice against this berry (weather it was the fruits fault or not) . After this one experience if I decide that all red berries on this bush will make me sick that would be a stereotype, and there is a good chance that that stereo type is a good one - and true. Soon I see another bush - different from the first one, but the berries look red (they all look alike to me). So, my stereotype is an accepting one, I'll let it encompass these berries too. At this point I choose not to eat red berries on any tree (I want to be safe). I am discriminating.

I am a modern Utah collage student and I bump into a Native American on the street. Soon after this meeting I notice that my wallet has been stolen! I may form a prejudice against Native Americans due to this incident (weather it was his fault or not) . After this one experience if I decide that all Native Americans in Utah will take my stuff - that would be a stereotype. I don't want that. However, if the next day I am walking down the street and I bump into another Native American and again soon after I notice that my wallet is missing, that might make me mad. That incident might make me put my hand into my pocket to protect my other things. Soon I see yet another Native American - different from the other two, but he's wearing the same kind of clothes (they all look alike to me). So, my stereotype is an accepting one, I'll let it encompass him too. At this point I choose to cross and walk on the other side of the street and avoid him. (I want to be safe). Possibly I'll go home and tell my friends and children about my stereotype and they can have a stereotype by osmosis - passed down. I am discriminating.

Every person has prejudices. From who our closest friends are and which are our favorite foods. Prejudice includes which way we walk home to which side of the street we walk on. If there were people in black leather walking on one side of the street and people in three piece suits walking on the other - which side would you walk on? Do you know if the suits are missionaries or with the mob? Do you know if those in leather are holding guns or going to a costume ball. I don't.

What choices do we make? Are the choices we make rational?

Our Prejudices that we create ourselves or are taught by others also tend to move in a very violent route towards the actions of discrimination. We choose to discriminate through these major 5 levels and one adds to the other.

1) Verbal: Did you hear the one about the polock army? The polocs would throw hand grenades at the enemy, then the enemy would catch them pull out the pins and throw them back. Hey here's another one what's the difference between a Jew and a pizza? A pizza doesn't scream when you put it into the oven.

We tell jokes. Some of them are funny. I hear them - it's sometimes hard not to laugh. It's even harder to tell my friends that I don't want to hear these prejudice jokes. They call me a prude or tell me to lighten up. Jokes seem harmless but they enforce stereotypes and push prejudices

"Leah, fifteen: "I go to a snobby high school. Most of the kids here are rich, well dressed, and preppy. My mom doesn't make a lot of money, and I like to dress really different. I shop at thrift stores and listen to different music. On my first day of high school, some snobbish, preppy girls made sarcastic, rude comments about my clothes" (Barbara Moe, 20) Although Leah's perceptions probably have some validity, she seems to have some prejudices of her own.

Verbal - the pain it can cause.

2) Avoidance: As in my Berry / Native American analogy prior, avoidance occurs when an individual has a prejudice or has heard others talk of a group in a negative way. Due to the persons wariness they avoid the "strange group". This happens without knowledge and in a very similar was one reacts to a phobia; with irrational fear. Avoidance can also happen on a much softer level. A shop keeper tending to all of the adults who walk in even though a teenager might have been their first or seeing to a young white gentleman rather than an elderly Hispanic woman.

3) Actual discrimination: When I was a little kid in grade school I remember many occurrences when my peers and I were playing and the question would come up "What ward do you go to?" I would answer "I go to the temple." my cohorts would be shocked "You go to the temple!" "yes" I would retort "I go to Temple Kol Ami, I'm Jewish.". Many a time those student who were playing so jocundity with me moments before would turn to each other, tell me that their momie said that they couldn't play with anyone who didn't go to a ward, and my friends would walk away. I was left alone.

We choose to avoid. That is not a natural emotion. Fear, yes. Prejudice, yes. Even a comfort level of those of your same tribe... natural. However acting upon those feelings is a choicest is a choice that leads to higher levels of prejudice. Teaching our children hate is only the first step to discrimination. Other steps include what they hear from their peers and what their peers hear from their parents. It needs to be Systemically taught how not to discriminate or these choices will resound, reverberate and increase. These choices that we choose to make will lead us to the next level:

4) Violence: almost daily we hear in our new papers about black killing white and Hispanic robbed by Jew. All Arabs are headliners as terrorists in our tribunes and did you hear another homosexual was pistol wiped today.

It all starts with jokes and avoidance. Then discrimination gets out of hand. Violence permeates, perpetuates and effects - all of us.

5) Murder / Genocide:

First They Came for the Jews

First they came for the Jews

and I did not speak out

because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists

and I did not speak out

because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists

and I did not speak out

because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me

and there was no one left

to speak out for me.

(Pastor Martin Niemöller,

From the horrors of Hitler in WWII to the Crisis in Kosovo currently headlining the world news. The Jews and Muslims in the middle east , Catholics and Protestants in Ireland. It all starts with words. Words like these on my page.

Just as evil words can hurt the society, teaching, pure and activist words can save it. "Anthropologist Margret Mead said: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful and committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."" (Barbara Moe, 137)

Every one has prejudice, I can not deny that. I would "like" to say that the solution is to make a color blind society where we are all, all of us - #003366, black, white, red, brown, blue or purple - the same. I can not. We are different. However, treating each other different is a choice. A choice you and I make every day. Knowledge of that choice is power. Treating all people with empathy and respect, a willingness to agree to disagree and nonviolently communicate differences ,well, that... is sublime.

Paul W. Draper

4830 So. Viewmont Dr.

S.L.C., Ut. 84117


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