Tuesday, January 22, 2019

It Takes Courage and Conviction to Destroy Prejudice

It takes courage to destroy prejudice in your life. It also takes a conscientious day after day effort and self coaching to rid your thoughts and mind of long held prejudices, prejudices that were given to you as part of your cultural, geographical, religious, racial, or gender upbringing.

I remember that as a young student I always thought that boys were less intelligent than girls. This was a prejudice founded on the fact that the boys in my schools were in trouble more often than the girls, and that there were far less boys in the honors classes than girls. I just thought boys were simply not as bright as girls. Then when I went to college, I realized that there were smart boys in the world. Now we all know that I held a terrible prejudice until I saw evidence that the prejudice was wrong, misguided, and ignorant. Now as a teacher and mom of three sons, I am a champion of both boys and girls knowing that all of us are capable of learning well.

I remember another time as an elementary school student expressing a prejudice about people less fortunate than me. My grandmother righted me immediately and taught me a valuable lesson about class that I've never forgotten. She took away that prejudice immediately with her strong stories, experience, and evidence.

Further as a very young child I had great prejudice against those who didn't speak English. Mistakenly I thought that smart meant you could speak English and not smart meant you couldn't speak English. Again that was prejudice born out of ignorance and lack of experience as a young child. With education, I saw how wrong I was.

There were other more harmful prejudices I was brought up with, cultural prejudices that were born from what the TV news chose to show, words elders spoke, religious teachings, and a lack of experience with multiple cultures. Thankfully my schooling worked against those prejudices and through multiple courses, experiences, and reading, I've been able to rid myself of many prejudices. That doesn't mean that prejudices don't rise up in me because they do, and that's when I self-coach myself with the knowledge I've learned to rid myself of those prejudices.

When I heard about Pence's wife taking a job in a school that is outwardly prejudiced against LBGT families and individuals, I was frightened and angry. How can the Vice President's wife rightfully work for such a discriminatory school, a school that objects to the rights and freedoms of people to live as they choose as long as they don't break laws and hurt others? Why didn't she choose to work in a public school that forwards positive educational advantage and opportunity to all children, not just those of a select faith or discriminatory doctrine? In time, I'm sure she'll learn as life has a way of teaching us to be less prejudiced by making us face our greatest prejudices in our everyday lives. Typically people's children, loved ones, or most cherished places and events ultimately create opportunities for us to learn by making us face our greatest prejudices in intimate, life changing ways.

When prejudice of any kind rises in me, I think of Prince Ea's amazing video (see below) and I also look into the heart and eyes of the person, event, or practice that makes the prejudice arise. When looking into the eyes of another, you see their humanity and their right to live well in our world. When looking into the hearts of events, places, and practices, you see the truth and goodness which dispels the prejudice you may have been brought up with or that remains--prejudice that signals your ignorance and lack of experience.

My children and the younger people I work with have helped me to overcome prejudice in many ways since they see the world with new eyes and often broader experiences than me. It takes courage and conviction to destroy prejudice in ourselves and others, and it is right and good to work towards this end in our lives and the lives of our communities.