Thursday, May 31, 2012

Prejudice and Discrimination

Put prejudice and discrimination together, and you get profiling.  As I've said before, profiling is a good thing.  Not only a good thing, but an absolute necessity for survival. Without it, you have no clue how to behave in any situation. And now, DailyKenn sets us straight on prejudice and discrimination in this guest post:

Why prejudice and discrimination are positive traits


You're on vacation and a special occasion calls for dining out at a fine restaurant.

Do you choose:

a) McDonalds
b) Country Buffet
c) Some high-priced restaurant with a snooty maître d’

The correct answer is: You go with the snooty maître d’.

Your prejudice against McDonalds and Country Buffet is based on past experience.

Prejudice means to 'pre-judge.' Even though you're a tourist and have never dined at the local Country Buffet or munched down at the corner McDonalds, you discriminate against those options in favor of the higher-priced venue.

Prejudice and discrimination are not evil. They are necessary traits of human behavior. We apply both every day of our lives from choosing restaurants to pulling up to the pump with the lowest price.

Applying prejudice and discrimination is also essential in human relations. When you hire a handyman or a dentist for the first time, you make discriminatory and prejudicial decisions. Insurance companies are discriminatory and prejudicial when they choose who they will and will not insure. Were it not for government mandates, their bias would be more pronounced.

Social engineers have gone to great lengths to convince us that prejudice is wrong when applied to humans, particularly race-based prejudice.

While I agree that hating someone based on ethnicity is immoral (if not down-right idiotic), prejudging others based on their appearance (including skin tone and hair texture) is not foolish. Rather, it is wise behavior that should be commonly practiced out of common sense; particularly when the context of the encounter also demands discriminatory judgement.

What's on the outside (dark skin or golden arches) advertises what to expect on the inside. Acknowledging that reality is not evil, it's an awareness based on past experience. My guess is you will seldom find a maître d’ in a McDonalds; but occasionally you do find an employee with advanced human characteristics that would do Darwin proud. Be pleasantly surprised; not unpleasantly disappointed.

When I encounter a group of Chinese students chattering Mandarin in the park, I prejudge them to be from China. I prejudge them to speak Chinese more fluently than English. I sometimes practice my Mandarin skills and prejudge them to respond with polite laughter.

When I encounter a group of black teens chattering Ebonics in the city, I prejudge them to be from the 'hood. I prejudge them to speak Ebonics more fluently that real English. I never, ever practice my Ebonics skills anticipating they will respond with polite laughter.

Why do I prejudge Chinese students and black teens differently? Why am I prejudiced?

I offer no answer to the above questions. Honest people already know the answer.

1 comment:

  1. I've always been amused by people who claim I'm "prejudiced" when they don't even know what the word means.

    I also get a kick out of saying "That's the fallacy of Composition" or " hoc, ergo propter hoc."

    The looks are their faces are priceless.