Opinion: Looking beyond the stereotypes, prejudice to see the people

Imagine this: You go to a car sales lot and a woman walks up to you and begins to talk to you about the mechanics of the car you’re considering and why it works best.

She’s probably pulling your leg, right? Only men know this stuff. How about when you see a Hispanic family shopping around a local Walmart with their children? Some might go as far as to think they probably are just depending on welfare and “stealing” jobs.

Think about a 17-year-old student, standing up for his or her religion or way of thinking. Some might go as far as to think he or she is too young and not “developed” enough to share an opinion. Prejudice is defined as a “preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.”

We all do it. We all think these things in some form or fashion about different people based on race, sex and age.

These opinions are mostly preconceived opinions learned from our parents, teachers and people around us. Nobody is born with these thoughts. Prejudice has become a wide-spread and hotly debated issue that often turns to acts of discrimination, defined as “the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age or sex.”

More often than not, discrimination can turn into acts of violence. It’s a regular thing to hear about bullying based on issues of race, sex or even the way someone looks.

Take the Trayvon Martin case, for example. Martin, a 17- year-old African-American, reportedly had an altercation with George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old mixed-race Hispanic. The altercation ended with Zimmerman shooting Martin, who died, and race became a pivotal aspect in discussion of the case.

It is sad that prejudice can be grounds for anything, even killing people in many situations, even when the assumptions based on race are not true.

Understandably, prejudice can stem from hurts and pains that we face. Ground Zero and other tender reminders of the events that took place on 9/11 are a picture of how a nation was attacked and hurt.

As a result, we developed a specific prejudice against Muslims and Arabs due to the fact that it was people of that certain religion and ethnic group that hurt us as a nation.

Not all Muslims are radical and dangerous, however, and not all Arabs are Muslims. Some of them were just as hurt by those terrible acts on that day yet were treated as if they had done the act themselves just because they had the same religion or shared the same ethnic group.

Statistics show that educated people are less prejudiced than people who do not get an education. In my opinion, it’s because we as students intermingle with different people of different ethnic groups, different religions and different lifestyles and get to know them past those characteristics.

This collective issue will begin to diminish when we all begin to look at people past their skin color and all these things and realize we all are human beings. What we need to appreciate is that we all are in the same boat.

We all struggle with debt, drama and living our dreams, and sadly, some of us can’t fulfill those dreams because of the pigment of our skin or our gender or even our age.

The people we have prejudice toward are someone’s mom, someone’s dad, someone’s kid and someone’s friend.

While some stereotypes may be true, most of the time they are not. Maybe the world will begin to change when we put all opinions aside and learn to love each other as we are. Maybe that’s when world peace will come.

As Robert Fulghum said, “We could learn a lot from crayons; some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, while others bright, some have weird names, but they all have learned to live together in the same box.”
Brandi Hutcheson can be contacted via email at blhutch94@yahoo.com.

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