noun \ˈpre-jə-dəs\

Definition of PREJUDICE


: injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one's rights; especially : detriment to one's legal rights or claims


a (1) : preconceived judgment or opinion (2) : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge

b : an instance of such judgment or opinion

c : an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics







Prejudice is a tricky discussion topic, isn't it? And sadly – we only start talking about it when something horrific happens. Something divisive. We only start talking when we have no business talking. When we are hurting and angry. We are told how to feel by the talking heads and we are all given a set of facts to support our position. All sides feel passionately correct, but the whole things feels wrong.

But there is one thing that we can all agree on: We have a problem.

I want a world where we can speak our minds without being labeled prejudice. I long for civil discussions that include the ability to talk about cultural differences. I long for a world where everyone is treated equally because they are human – not because they are the same. We are not the same. Thank God.

I do not want to live in a world where everyone is just like me. I don't want to live in a world where everyone believes just like me, talks just like me, or looks just like me. I want the beauty of the tapestry that, I believe, God created specifically for his enjoyment. We are made in his image and I believe we were made to delight in the differences of one another.

And if you are different from me – I want to talk about those differences! I want to understand and know you and I cannot know you if I must act as if we are the same. This is not just for people of different races – but even people who may look like me. We are all so different – can't we take the time and be vulnerable enought to find out how and why?

The alternative path, the one we have taken, is to ignore it on a personal basis and let the government dictate how we should treat one another on a corporate basis. We cannot legislate morality. I will say it a million times – you cannot write a law that will change a heart. Legislation has it's place, but it is not the answer. At best, laws are a band aid while the real work takes place across the kitchen table. It is up to us to engage with one another and challenge one another. But we have to be willing to be vulnerable.

A personal example, I loved the book, “The Help”. I have talked about it with several of my white friends. I think a fascinating conversation though, would be with one of my black friends. I would love to hear their perspective, but I don't ask. I don't know why. I guess in part because I'm embarrassed – but my shame doesn't erase our past. Wait, that isn't entirely true. Let me put myself in that position, why wouldn't I bring it up? Because I believe that to not be racist means that you don't bring up that someone is a different race than you. I believe that it is rude to point out that we are of different races. I believe that it would be hurtful to bring it up. I fear that I would say something that would hurt my friendships.

And that's pretty much my point, we all have to get past the awkward feeling of bringing up a taboo subject. Until we are comfortable talking about it, it will remain taboo. And it shouldn't be. Discussing our differences openly should be an opportunity to grow closer – but instead we avoid the subject and drift further apart.

It feels as if we are trying to be blind to difference, and that is not ever going to happen. There is a study in “NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children” by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, where they studied how children form idea's about race. The chapter is titled, “Why White Parents Don't Talk About Race”. It is fascinating stuff.

One of the things that stuck with me was a study they did on pre-schoolers. They randonmy divided the class one morning and gave half of the class blue shirts to wear, and the other half were given red shirts. They wore them for three weeks and during that time the teachers never mentioned the color of the shirts and they were never grouped by shirt color. At the end of the three week study they asked the 'red shirt' kids about the 'blue shirt' kids. There was no hatred – but the red shirts kids thought all of the red shirts were nice, but only some of the blue shirts. They also thougth the red shirt kids were smarter and more blue shirt kids were dumb.

Four and Five year old kids. This tendency has a name – Essentialism – the spontaneous tendency to think your group shares characteristics. The point of the study was that, while parents stated they did not want to point out racial differences even in the context of educating their children on the fact that all are worthy, they needed to because we start out trying to identify with people who are like us. And the only way little kids can distinguish likeness is typically through physical characteristics.

Have you ever been in a situation where you are trying to point someone out and you avoid using skin color to do so? How ridiculous is that? Our sensitivity is causing more problems than it solves. At some point we have to move past the shame, the anger, the accusations, the defensiveness, the awkwardness – and just talk.

Black people have an obligation to make white people feel comfortable having an honest discussion about race. White people have an obligation make black people feel comfortable having an honest discussion about race.

And we have to stop letting the media and the politicians talk for us. If it doesn't happen at your kitchen table then it doesn't really happen.

Our differences were created to be celebrated, appreciated, and honored. Drop statistics and stereotypes and start the conversation. We were not made for CNN or FoxNews – we were created to be in relationship with one another.

Much love and my prayers go out to all who are angered, or hurting, or defensive, or at peace over this weeks latest media circus. We weren't there, we don't know – but in honor of the loss of a life, let's find a way to talk to one another.



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