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Prejudice has been around a long time and there are no signs of it ending anytime soon. Prejudice goes very far back in history and there is no known document of where prejudice stemmed from. Prejudice is positive or negative attitude towards a person or a group of people who are part of any other group. I have seen different kinds of prejudice, and I believe that people choose to be prejudice by not educating themselves to be otherwise, which also can be referred to as ignorance.
“Mom, why is the Mexican not mowing our lawn today?” this could be a commonly heard question in Texas. Employment opportunities are sparse for Mexican immigrants, but the landscaping business offers many jobs, so most of the employees are of Mexican race. Many people believe that this is all the Mexicans can do and that this job is all they do around the world. That is a role expectation because that is all one may be aware of.
In Vincent Parrillo’s essay Causes of Prejudice he points out that, “knowing of no alternative conceptions of the world, the child usually accepts these concepts without questioning” (557). There are many different kinds of prejudice and most of them lead back to the lack of knowledge among the person. I worked in a chiropractic health care center, which many wealthy people came into because it is a pricy care and the area of our location was in a rich suburb. Many of the people that came in there treated us (the employees) very rudely. They thought because we had to work a nine to five job and they do not have to work, that they were better then my coworkers and I. Without knowing me they assumed that I was a low class girl and that I was not in school. When in fact I had worked hard through high school so my senior year I was able to take two classes a day and leave school to work. “Based on false stereotypes, prejudices shape our perceptions toward particular groups” (557). They assumed that probably because their children never had to work, since they were given everything and therefore I didn’t need to work, so they felt as though it was alright to speak to me extremely rude and not be courteous. I believe that self-justification is the main cause of this problem, “self-justification involves denigrating a person or group to justify maltreatment of them” (550)
Social norm is another cause of prejudice in our community because it is the accepted thing to do. I had a friend that got pulled over by a cop outside of Nashville and when the cop got to his window he said, “oh you are white you can go. Don’t worry”, he explained that he was from Chattanooga and he had to be suspicious. This form of prejudice is area related. “People’s prejudice should decrease or increase significantly when they move into areas where the prejudicial norm to lesser or greater” (559). This holds very true, when I lived overseas I was not aware of prejudice when I was in school, because we were all different from each other and we didn’t care. It didn’t even cross our minds that it was a problem for some of us to inter-racially date and have friends of another race.
I would say that all in all, the major base of prejudice is ignorance. A person not educating themselves causes many problems that are evident today. If some people had better knowledge of what is out in the world instead of being narrow minded this problem could eventually be cleared away.
Parillo, Vincent N. “Causes of Prejudice.” Rereading America: Cultural Contexts For Critical Thinking and Writing. Eds. Gary Columbo, Robert Culle, and Bonnie
Lisle. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2001. 548-561.
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Discrimination, Abuse, Anti-social behaviour, Prejudice
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