© Copyright 2011
December 6, 2011
What is prejudice? Prejudice is a pre-conceived opinion that is not based upon reason or actual experience. And it is always exercised toward one’s or a group’s religion, culture, ethnics or race. To be a prejudice is to be an ignorant. And to be an ignorant does not necessarily mean lack of academic education. One can possess the academically utmost degree and still be an ignorant. To be an ignorant it means being rebellious to face reason or convert to morality and rationality. This is why the formality of prejudice can be practiced in many different ways. For instances, in most regions in India, cows are sacred animals for the purpose of culture and religion, and they are forbidden to consume, therefore, are worshipped. So, China is a similar example, but in a very opposite manner: dogs and cats are consumed there. Meanwhile in the Western cultures, cows are consumed, and dogs and cats (humans’ closest friends or companions) are domesticated with deep love and passion. So, these cultural beliefs resulted in one culture is always blaming and judging the other… Therefore, if a reasonably thorough analysis would be applied, which culture is to blame, judge or consider insane…? So, as well as for colored prejudice, since most people who are not parts of the black race (in all societies in this world, especially in the United States as the most condensed, multi ethnic and cultural society) always define most black folks as underdogs, thereby, they always see most black skins negatively—even some black folks who’ve been brainwashed believe in that bias. Consequently, most Blacks are always the subjects to be prejudged based on the color of their skins: black. Personally, in my life, I don’t know how many times others prejudge me, such as Yellows, Blacks, South East Asians, Mulattoes, Latinos and Whites. Just recently, a middle-aged-white woman prejudged me.
It was on a cold winter night. After a wearyingly long day of work, I was hungry like a wolf and could not resist with my hunger. As I didn’t have enough cash on me to go eating at a restaurant, so I passed by at the nearest Bank to withdraw some cash from my Bank Account. When I arrived at the Bank, there was only one functional ATM machine, and having preoccupied by a mid-aged-white woman. At that moment, she and I were the only customers in there. Despite I was distantly standing behind her, my presence stimulated a phobic feeling in her. From time to time, while she was in the process withdrawing her cash, she was turning her head and looking at me with an invidious regard. For the time being, I was so upset and embarrassed. However, I couldn’t do anything about it since her invidiousness was solely based upon gestures (And a part of my motive was, somehow, based on imagination, too. It could be otherwise…). My only choice of reaction, consequently, was to stay calm.
When I realized her fear was out of control, in order to make her regain comfort, I pulled out my wallet from my left pocket, in which I had my Bankcard. Thereafter, I pulled it out from the wallet and held it with my right hand to prevent being seen before her eyes as a violently suspicious person. Still, this strategy didn’t work and was not helpful so as to make her recollect comfort. I felt so, so uncomfortably and embarrassedly… Finally, after she finished withdrawing her cash and walked through the exit door as fast as she could, at the door, she stationed for about ten seconds to watching me while I was in the process withdrawing my money from the ATM machine. To signal her how her sense of rationality was fallen into a realm of ignorance, I turned around and looked at her with a facially unpleasant expression, and then I shook my head. Afterward, she left.
In this case, should I consider her behavior toward me was based on colored prejudice? Before elaborating on this question, it requires a thoroughly logical analysis based on two questions. Firstly, was she attracted to me? I don’t think so. If she were, she would not make me feel extremely uncomfortable and embarrassed. Expression or sign of loving attraction doesn’t deal with odiousness. Secondly, on the other hand, did she have a bad past experience while alone with a man? If she had a bad experience while alone with a man, she would leave the Bank right away after withdrawing her money. She wouldn’t have time to pause for watching.
Nonetheless, a further thorough-logical analysis can also be considered. When she arrived at the exit door, why did she stop for about ten seconds to watch while I was performing the process to withdraw my money? Or before her eyes, did the way I look justifying I could not have money in the Bank? In fact, if she were extremely fearful of me, after withdrawing her money, she would flee like an antelope, which happens to accidentally be in lions’ territory. For instance, someone who’s extremely fearful of another person, thus sees him/her as a violently suspicious one, would not have time to watch and pause for seconds, that person would quickly evacuate the area. To my knowledge, that mid-aged-white woman’s behavior toward me was based on colored prejudice.
Based upon my rational sense, when I was standing about a distance of 13—15 feet behind her, the routine of turning her head behind to fearsomely looking at me was a sign of feeling insecurely of being alone with me in that area. In addition, when she paused for about 10 seconds at the Bank’s ajar door to watching me amid the process of withdrawing my cash, perhaps she wanted to observe if I were the real owner of the ATM Card. While she was observing me, meantime she was on her cell phone talking murmuringly….
For me, in real sense, to feel in such an uncomfortable and embarrassed manner about her iniquitous behavior toward me was the norm. Since I am a member of the underdog race, it is very difficult, sometimes, to prevent such feeling from manifesting inside of me. If I felt this way that night, it was not my fault. The American society makes me feel this way. Most of the time, in order to avoid being seen unenviably before eyes of most people, I have to apply double or triple efforts of social conformity wherever I go. This society makes me believe that under the law of God and this country’s constitution I am equal to members of other races, and in fact, it is the opposite. If I were equal to members of other races, why does this society indirectly expect me to be certain ways…in order to be seen with decency before eyes of most people? And meantime, most white folks and members of other races don’t have to go through my daily strain. In reality, the only times most Blacks (especially black-skinned men) are not subjects to colored prejudice it is only when they are well known (rich and famous) figures, or, perhaps, wear corporate outfits. Still wearing suit and tie or being rich and famous does not guarantee they won’t experience colored prejudice. As Mr. Toussaint L’Ouverture had always said, ‘it is always the Blacks who suffer the most’ (Cited in James 1963: 152).
The fact of the matter is, most of us tend to pass judgment on the appearance of what we wear, or our skinned colors and, therefore, ignore the essence of our existence and the content of our character. Perhaps, that night if I were in a suit and tie outfit, e.g., a corporate briefcase holding in my hand, she would feel securely with my presence. Due to the fact, as a black-skinned man, I were in casual outfit, then she quickly prejudged me.
Furthermore, a deepened aspect also needs to be analyzed. The same experience I had with the mid-aged-white woman, I could experience it as well with a black woman. Likewise, a black female could react the same way: prejudged and being fearful of me. However, for the most part, she would feel safely and securely with the presence of a white male regardless the kind of outfit he had on. So, how about if I were a white male, would the mid-aged-white woman still be afraid of me? For the most part, in my opinion, she wouldn’t be afraid of me to quickly passing judgment. She would feel securely either I wore casual outfit or not.
Color prejudice is nothing more than the unreasoning hatred of one race for another, the contempt of the stronger and richer people for those whom they consider inferior themselves and the bitter resentment of those who are kept in subjection and so frequently insulted. As color is the most obvious outward manifestation of race, it had been made the criterion by which men are judged irrespective of their social or their educational attainments. The light skinned races have come to despise all those of darker colour, and the dark skinned people will no longer accept without protest the inferior position to which they have been relegated (Fanon 1952: 5,6).
The reality is, beside the skinned color dilemma that exists between Yellows, Blacks and Whites, black skinned folks are subjects to relegate by others as well, such as Latinos, South East Asians, Mulattoes and many more... E.g., those sub-race members perpetrate colored prejudice toward black-skinned folks just as Yellows and Whites do. In consequence, in the minds of those colored prejudice perpetrators, they only judge black-skinned folks based on their blackness-skin color, and ignore them as humans and their social standards. In a deeper aspect, they have problems with the color of blackness. For them, blackness is a color of curse… To even go further, most people on earth have problem with the color of blackness-skin—including some black-skinned folks as well.
Often, prejudice is based on skinned colors, and black-skinned people, most of the time, are the targets of colored prejudice. Therefore, based on how this society (societies) negatively portrays black folks in most social aspects has played important roles for them to be primary targets of colored prejudice. A media that is always ready to widely expose the wrongnesses of Blacks, and tactfully expose the wrongnesses of Whites, of course, these negative exposures are enough to destroy the decencies of most black folks, thereby make most people view them negatively—even their own kind. Mr. Steele (1990: 43) argues that, ‘beside race problems that exist, black skinned folks are stereotyped the most more than any other skinned colors in America, if it is not in the whole world.’
Despite progress has been made throughout the years in the sub-race and race relations between Yellows, Blacks and Whites and others…, colored prejudice toward black skins, today, is still a matter in the American society (in the world). Black folks wherever they go, most of the time, others…always see them negatively—even some of their own kinds who’ve been brainwashed….
Thenceforth, based upon these societal stereotype biases, this is why criminal Whites can be judged before the eyes of most people as one of the most trusted human beings in this society—in any society on earth. (Emphatically, I don’t mean to say black folks don’t commit crimes. Therefore, there are not criminal Blacks. Of course, some commit crimes and violate the laws. They are criminal Blacks. And I fully support the punishments of the judicial system against criminals who commit awful crimes, without regard skinned colors or races.). Needless to mention, they are camouflaging the nature of their criminalities by always wearing corporate outfits. Therefore, the world is widely opened for them. So, due to the positive images Whites always have in this society (societies), which in fact always make it easy for them to successfully perpetrate and smoothly operate their criminal activities before they get caught…. In reality, the same way not all Whites who are criminals, likewise, not all Blacks who are criminals.
Somehow, after time has passed, I have begun to see the situation between the mid-aged-white female and I in a more widely reasonable and spiritual aspects. I have no hard feeling toward her. This society and her irrationality make her feel this way (lots of none white folks would react the same way). For not acting in such a manner, in the way this society conditions people’s minds negatively toward black folks, this requires lots of courage, understanding, education, compassion, love and humanism. In the meantime, this is an individual’s task, i.e., before passing any judgment, it is better to make logically thorough analysis. I believe that night if she utilized her critical thinking before passing judgment, she would not see me as a suspect until at one point my feeling was so hurt.
After all, we all are prejudice, no matter how hardly we may try not to be. We all may not perpetrate it based on skinned color or race. But, we prejudge others characterized on other factors… Nevertheless, I deeply believe if we apply spirituality, compassion and love in our daily lives, we can assimilate all of our differences and overcome that sickened mentality.
Fanon, F. 1952 & Read, A. 1996 (eds). The Fact of Blackness. Seattle: Bay Press
James, C.L.R. 1962. The Black Jacobins. 2nd ed, New York: Vintage Books: A Division of Random House Inc.
Steele, S. 1990. The Content of Character. New York: St. Martin’s Press.