Prejudice

To see one another as truly human invites listening and generative sharing. Prejudice is the act of dehumanization when we choose not to listen, and we do it all the time.

Prejudice is the script that plays in my head when I walk around downtown Seattle, telling me, "Look forward. Don't make eye contact. If someone asks you for something, the answer is no."

Prejudice shows itself in how we frame conversations. In the abortion conversation, are we talking about a fetus or a human being? Are we in defense of the woman or the child? Even our merely polarized dialogue shows our bias, our predetermined script, our prejudice.

Prejudice plays out in groups and communities by creating dominance for some and struggle for others. America was built on prejudice, a fundamental dehumanization of black and native peoples. This prejudice was, and is, pervasive and explicit. Others can be more pernicious.

We become so used to the voices in our own head, so used to the way things are, that we become numb to our own prejudice and the violence it can leach into the world. It starts so small, so unconsciously, yet unchecked it can pervade my behavior and a collective consciousness. The innocuous act of not listening or acknowledging has a dark underbelly of prejudice.


It doesn't really matter what the issue is; if my blinders are already on, I'm prejudiced. 

In my experience, there is no easy way of overcoming prejudice. It involves becoming aware of blind spots, often long-held. It involves opening up, listening and feeling where numbness, callousness and willful ignorance once reigned. Moving beyond prejudice requires being humble or being humbled, letting the stories and lives of others fill up, convolute, and grow in my own heart even as that adds chaos to my thinking. Growth beyond prejudice means seeing how different my life is from another and also how deep our common humanness runs. This is followed by the deconstructing of my imagined artifices on reality and simply meeting people as they are and learning their perspective. It can be painful, even traumatic. The whole spectrum of emotion can be stirred up as images of myself and of the world being discarded simultaneously to make room for a reality that is bigger and more open that what I had previously built.

The end is a you that is open, that is clear, that has eyes to see and ears to hear. A heart that is awake as it is alive. The end is the combination of persons and a collective where everything belongs and all can thrive.

Prejudice draws lines in the sand, but the deconstruction of prejudice creates space and possibility. May our hearts become broken to our own prejudice and open to the humanizing of others personally, as a society and as a world.