Prejudice can creep into our thoughts
in devious, subtle ways
Prejudice is alive and well and is encountered in all races, nationalities, social classes and ethnic groups.
As I read the article featuring Dana Bagnall in the July 16 edition of the Messenger, it occurred to me that prejudice can creep into our thought processes in subtle and devious ways.
I was disheartened to hear of Ms. Bagnall’s encounters with thoughtless people but I was not surprised. Ethnocentricity, the inclination to view one’s own personal group as a “preferred” trait is imbued in early familial life as we are generally included preferentially in a family dynamic.
It is also a natural state to view faults in others while being oblivious or at least deferential to those same shortcomings in ourselves.
When Ms. Bagnall was quoted as saying, “It is institutionalized. It is systemic,” I ask myself if she is referring to the ethnocentricity which I previously described or is it more a revelation of a similar facet of prejudice- judging an entire society based on a few, or several, interactions with prejudicial people.
In a parallel article from the same publication date, Mr. Dustin Allred used the same terminology in describing what he perceived as “systemic” prejudice. While some of the experiences he described were, albeit annoying, somewhat benign, at least they may have emanated more from curiosity rather than animus. I don’t know very many people who would be so callous as to replicate the actions he related.
Ms. Bagnall certainly hasn’t been impeded in her ability to get an education, get hired into a number of prestigious positions, and rise to positions of authority and advancement. There may have been challenges, but we all face our own set of challenges in life, whether they are race, social standing or, as early Latter-day Saints encountered, believing differently than others. There is an overt movement in these “latter days” to shut down any dissention to the “acceptable” way of thinking.
It has become fashionable to decry a system that has lifted more people out of poverty, given more minorities reason to hope for a better future for themselves and their children, and caused refugees the world over to risk life and limb for the mere possibility of getting to our shores.
Systemic prejudice certainly exists in that it can be encountered in any human system. We are all likely to exhibit our own prejudices. They stem from a time when self-preservation required it. When one begins to use a broad brush to paint an entire institution or system as racist, one should be very careful not to let that paint color their own way of thinking.
If this article causes the reader to think the author is racist, perhaps the reader should check if any prejudices have crept into their thinking.