A little over a year ago I posted some thoughts on Prejudice on Facebook. A discussion I’d had with Victor Lee Lewis inspired me to go deeper into my personal experience of prejudice. I want to acknowledge Victor who got me started thinking about this. He’s a remarkable thinker and teacher. Google him. It’s worth it.
Also check out the documentary “The Color of Fear” on Youtube.
Premise: I am (we are?) programmed to be prejudiced. Prejudice resides in the preverbal brain and CNS. It is in the DNA. It is generational.
My prejudice shows up when I meet someone who is black or brown and someone who is gay. If I tune in to myself, I notice it as an automatic voice that says, “this is an other” along with a sensation of being closed to the possibility of intimacy. Immediately this experience is superseded by the voice of my values, “That’s wrong. This is a person. Another finite expression of the Infinite.” Meanwhile, the sense of being closed to the possibility of intimacy remains. I ignore that feeling and proceed as if it were not there. Even though the impulse fades as I get to know the person, it still lurks. I have never acted on it because I know it’s wrong. I am on guard against my prejudice. I often overcompensate in friendliness. In some situations I might feel fear. As I write this, I feel shame.
I am also curious.
I want to know more about this:
Is my premise true? Is prejudice preverbal? Is it in the DNA?
Is this true of others? Is it universal?
What is the influence of having had an African American nanny in my first years?
What is the influence of being born in the 1930’s to southern parents in a racist and homophobic culture?
Is this issue at play in the middle east between various tribes, races and religions?
Can it be changed? How can it be changed?
Could the therapies, such as EMDR, IBP and others, which are designed to reprogram preverbal attachment wounds apply to this issue?
AN AFTERTHOUGHT ON PREJUDICE
I also have an aversive, visceral reaction when I hear or read prejudicial comments. I suspect that that reaction is a product of my values about prejudice. I seem to be both hypersensitive and judgmental toward racial and homophobic prejudice. I seem to be seriously prejudiced against prejudiced people. Go figure.