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Why do we have prejudice and why do we generalize ?


Why?Picture courtesy: http://qh11e10.wordpress.com/2013/03/



I have been reading a lot of research on racial identification and discrimination issues, socio economic issues and others. It is strange that even in 21st century and that too post 2010 period we are still talking about it ! It makes me wonder what has happened to human mind, or rather the rational and the emotional balance in human mind. Why do we give so much importance to the visually apparent skin tone or the looks? Does that race of a person define anything? People tend to think that race is biological, it is never so. What is in a color that makes one decide the goodness of a person ?

These thoughts have been bothering me for a while and off late, the readings for one of my favorite class (the new one I have taken this summer semester) has triggered more of the spark. Racial discrimination is something we think, we see in the west and far west (Europe and the US). However, that is not the fact. The discrimination in these places would be based on their ethnicity, color and race. Say, White, Black, Latinos, Hispanic, Asian-American and so on. If we look at India, it is going to be the north, south, east divide! It is also a big divide in terms of religion, caste, creed, and what not.

Yes, this is something that has been happening  for a long time now. Europeans appreciated only the fairer skin. If we think about our colonization, i.e. India, (Thanks to Dr. Fouts for having shared that insight) we see that when the Britishers and other Europeans who colonized our country, tended to favor the ones with lighter skin. Of course, i dont blame them for the start. It has now become a way of life. Every one wants to have a fairer skin and have a lovelier wife, child and what not? Despite the old image of a "tall, dark and handsome", we have now changed it to be a fair and handsome  guy!

We also, tend to generalize by just knowing a bit about someone or someone who represents the culture. It is ridiculous to even generalize. I remember the quote by G.B.Shaw, " “Crude classifications and false generalizations are the curse of organized life.” I have also seen people making remarks about a particular sect of people. Even in India, Indians from the northern part of India seem to think that those from the south all wear dhoti's, eat lot of rice, are boorish and only speak tamil! Well, no. There are many other states in the south of India. They have their own charm and beauty. They are also interesting people. Why this generalization? Is it because, people assume that if one does so, then the whole set of people who represent or share that culture can be similar to that one person whom you interacted with! Every culture, language and ethnicity has its own beauty and importance. It also has its share of quirks. It is in how we knit them well and enjoy the beauty not by just trying to assimilate in to it or making others adapt to ours!

Well, even though I have only mentioned the color and race as being the major reasons for discrimination, it is also obvious that there is a discrimination among the various social classes. There is difference among the lower and upper middle class, the rich, the poor and what not. And then, there is the differentiation among gender.

We must learn to practice "cultural humility."So, what is cultural humility?

It is a process of self-reflection, self-critique and commitment to understanding and respecting different points of view and engaging with others humbly (Tervalon & Murray-Garcia, 1998)
 
It is very disheartening to note that even the ones who are  educated and are well- traveled are never humble enough. Well, what are we trying to leave the younger generation with?

Please share your comments :) 
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