If someone approached you and asked if you considered yourself unprejudiced, what would you say? Would you say, “Yes, of course! I see everybody as equals and don’t jump to assumptions about anyone. I am extremely accepting of all.” I’d probably say so as well, as I support everyone and refrain from tossing racial, ethnic, and homophobic slurs around. However, sometimes we don’t realize that we rush to make assumptions about others, even when they’re not malicious or so obvious. It can seem as simple as assuming someone is straight when we ask the girl we met in class, “So, do you have a boyfriend?” rather than “Do you have a significant other/partner?” Or, even when we assume everyone identifies as either male or female and introduce a show with, “Ladies and gentlemen” when we can just as easily say, “Good evening, everyone!” Sometimes we tend to mindlessly use stereotypes and assumptions to fill the void of incomplete information and do not even realize how hurtful it can be.
Here’s one you may not know–I had to actively tell myself to stop using the word “lame” to describe boring and crappy stuff. “This party is lame, let’s bounce.” “Her acting was lame.” “He’s pretty lame.” The word, lame, is originally defined as a person with a physical impairment. Therefore, using lame as a negative descriptor is subsequently equating those who may identify as being lame with the negative judgement you are conveying, similarly to the use of “gay” and “retarded” in negative contexts. Like many derogatory words, the definition seems to have evolved so much, and not everyone is offended by it. But in a world where people are oppressed, we are far more intelligent and not so lazy that we cannot choose other words.
Subconscious prejudice, also called implicit bias, is reflected in the video below; a video that demonstrates how
so many too many people were surprised when two “skeletons” were shown kissing and they realized after it was a male and female. So many people seemed so shocked, and to tell you the truth, although that’s disappointing, it is unfortunately expected. However, the video keeps a positive light in portraying the crowd as accepting and feeling a little foolish for their assumptions.
One’s bias and prejudice may be subconscious, but it’s not an excuse. It’s a dangerous state of mind, especially for those put in an authoritative position capable of making powerful decisions. These prejudices can, as the video’s synopsis states, “hinder a person’s ability to find a job, secure a loan, rent an apartment, or get a fair trial.” Make someone’s life easier. We can be better, we can do better.