I have come to believe that most prejudice against other races, colors, or creeds are planted in children by their parents. They are strengthened and become firmly embedded on the playground, when hearing and then sharing similar taunts with peers. If kids were not exposed to such poison in the home, the habit would not fester and grow in later life. This would not preclude having bad experiences with people of different races, colors, and creeds, but it might prevent much unfair treatment of other humans.
My father was the least-prejudiced person that I have known. I never heard him say a bad word about any race, color, or creed. My mother had a few opinions, but kept them to herself. My grandmother, who lived with us, was a hardcore bigot, but no one paid any attention to her occasional rants. My grandfather, who I never knew, had been an official in the Shriners (about which I know nothing; but being a secret society, I can only assume that they held opinions about non-members), which might explain the origin of her opinions and labels she attached to people. She had nothing good to say about any non-WASP that she knew or did not know. I don't think she was aware of what she was saying. We kids ignored her occasional outbursts, taking our cues more from our parents.
My father had grown up in a Confederate state (for foreigners, that's one of the southern states that still suffers pain of losing the Civil War and regrets the end of slavery), where segregation was practiced well into the 1960's (maybe even still today in a less blatant manor). Despite his origins, I never heard him apply any derogatory label commonly used to denote Black people, like those constantly spouted by cousins living in the city of his birth.
I do not have prejudices against groups; I judge individuals by his or her behavior. Signals they send can incite certain negative feelings, but that is not necessarily prejudice. Given the chance, I let them tip the balance by their behavior.
I have often witnessed prejudice being used as something weaker people use to hide behind, to excuse own behavior, or to use to their own advantage. An example of this is one experience as an army officer. Many in my troop were Black, had served in Vietnam, and had a bad attitude. I was white and a figure of authority: the embodiment of all they hated. (But, I had the law on my side). I recall reprimanding one young soldier, who accused me of being prejudiced against him. My response? I explained that I was not prejudiced against Black people; I was prejudiced against incompetent, malingering jerks...of which he was a prime example. That shut him up...
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Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.