Tuesday, May 29, 2012

How to Overcome Prejudice? (12 Ways)

Prejudice is bad. Prejudice is unhealthy. Prejudice is an evil that not only pulls the rug off the victim for no good reason other than that person being different from us. Racial prejudice judges one's worth based on the colour of their skin. Language prejudice pits one language (typically oneself) above all others. Religious prejudice downplays all other religions save one: your own. Sexual prejudice means one gets hired or fired on the basis of gender, transgender, or sexual orientation. In many countries, prejudice in whatever form, manner or flavour is generally bad.

(Credit: PTK)
Even in societies where democracy is widely practiced, there will still be degrees of prejudicial treatment of one another. According to Robert Sena, a National Hispanic Missionary of the Southern Baptist Convention, prejudice is defined as: "an opinion formed without taking the time and care to judge fairly. A biased opinion, attitude, or tendency formed unfairly or unjustly." Blacks have encountered racial prejudice for a long time, and it takes the martyrdom of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, and the bold defiance of Rosa Parks to begin a process of equality for the blacks. Asian Americans are also experiencing a gradual movement toward greater equality, with the rising stardom of the basketball sensation, Jeremy Lin, bringing to light the stark unequal status through racial discrimination in sports. Even in hiring, while sexual, age, and all other forms of discrimination are illegal, it is common to see employers trying to stay legal in the eye of the law but practise preferences that are prejudiced in some way. Sena, a Hispanic who has suffered through racial discrimination in America has this to offer with regards to learning how to overcome prejudice where we are. It all begins with our own inner selves. Sena provides us 12 ways to do just that. The words in italics are mine. The rest of the 12 ways are Robert Sena's as found in his article, "Overcoming Prejudice" in the excellent book, "Effective Men's Ministry" edited by Phil Downer.

  1. "Stop demanding that everyone be like you."
    Christians need to be humble to learn, and behaving in any superior way smacks of arrogance.
  2. "Stop insisting that everything be done your way."
    Sometimes, this is very much a result of impatience. Cultivate the very Christian value of waiting, and being patient with one another, especially those who are different from us. 
  3. "Repent of your prejudice toward other races and ethnic cultures."
    Such negative attitudes need to be repented before the Lord and before one another. Don't wait for something embarrassing to happen before you do something about it.
  4. "Seek opportunities to make friends across racial and cultural lines."
    We can start where we are. Many opportunities appear to us in our day to day lives.
  5. "Learn to celebrate your own culture."
    Know what our culture is good at. Know what it is not so good at. The key is to understand our culture as accurately as possible.
  6. "Learn to celebrate other cultures."
    This is one of the strengths of multicultural societies. We get to eat one another's food, enjoy entertainment and many other unique features.
  7. "Understand the difference between a process orientation and a task orientation. "
    America is very much task-oriented that puts merit-based skills above others. This has to be explained clearly and frequently when it comes to getting the job done, so that there will not be misunderstanding about skill over prejudice.
  8. "Be willing to allow minority persons to fail."
    Sometimes, minority races are simply shy or uncertain about how well they are being accepted. Encourage them. Give them an atmosphere where they feel safe and secure to do their best.
  9. "Differentiate between race and culture."
    In an age of interracial marriage and relations, this is getting to be more and more difficult. Race is something we cannot change, something physical and external. Culture is beyond. Culture can be changed.
  10. "Help to remove the barriers of racism and prejudice."
    Many acts of racism is a result of a 'learned' behaviour. They can be unlearned. That requires intentionality.
  11. "Help to remove the barriers of racial and ethnic myths and stereotypes."
    Be ready to speak out on stereotypes and do whatever you can to eliminate errors in such myths.
  12. "Help to remove the barrier of fear."
    Perhaps, in every person there is a temptation to fear being unaccepted. Unless we feel we are genuinely accepted for who and what we are, there will always be fear. Let the love of God rule in our hearts, to free us to love and be loved as we are.

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