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Ben Pechey

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How to Overcome Prejudice

September 1, 2017

First off I don’t know if we can, perhaps instead of titling this post How to overcome prejudice, I should have written: “How to deal with Prejudice”. If you are a minority or even if you aren’t, there will have been a time where you have felt prejudice. It is the human existence at its ugliest. To understand how to overcome or cope with prejudice first, we must understand what it means.

 

It happens for many reasons, most notably differences. For some reason, a difference is something that causes outrage in some people, and this outrage -which is a cover for unsureness of new opinions or simply something they have never encountered before- takes the form of a prejudice. From staring, catcalls and even physical abuse, prejudice happens EVERY DAY.

What's more, it can happen in the most innocuous of places such as a supermarket. Something as simple as shopping for your lunch can become hard because you are worried about the judgement or hate you may receive simply for grabbing a brie and bacon sandwich. It happens to me ALL THE TIME a memorable experience happened only weeks ago in the sandwich aisle. A lady stopped shopping and stared at me, not shy brief glances, but open-mouthed shock. She then motioned to me- with an egg and cress- to her husband who also stared at me. Now, this is very mild, but you have to remember that for someone like me this may be the 10th time this has happened in a day.

 

So how did I overcome this form of prejudice- well I stood my ground and owned who I am in the only way I know how- words. I simply said to staring egg and cress lady “you are as narrow-minded as your sandwich choice” I blew her husband a kiss and trotted off to the till. I know I shouldn’t be hateful towards hate but sometimes you have to vent.

 

Sometimes prejudice can get serious, these are known as hate crimes which are defined as “a crime motivated by racial, sexual, or other prejudice, typically one involving violence”. Well, they happen all the time too, and at the minute they don’t seem to be slowing in pace and yep you guessed it - it happened to little old me !! 

Epsom has always seemed quite safe and accepting. However not this day, I walked out the station whereupon youths on mopeds (this was just before moped crimes hit the news in the south) started shouting abuse at me- I was fine, I can deal with that kind of rubbish. I really am well versed in receiving verbal abuse. However I got to the crossing on the corner and one of them drove right by me, so close for minute I thought he was going to drive into me - then he went to hit me - clipping my chest with his hand and drove straight into a bollard - it was SO bizarre. I was stunned for about 10 minutes. I walked home and felt odd, it was certainly a reality check that HATE CRIMES happen all the time. I know that this is no where as extreme as some cases, but ultimately it doesn't have to be that serious to make someone feel unsafe in an environment that they should feel safe in. The thing that was surprising that out of the 10 or so witnesses to this incident, not ONE came to help or see if I was okay. NOT ONE.

 

So how can we overcome prejudice, well first I don’t think for one minute that we can eradicate it completely because there will always be pockets of people who seem to hate others. However, I think that we can use awareness to stop the spread and depth of prejudice. The most vital way of overcoming prejudice is TALKING ABOUT it. 

The fact that it is so prevalent is because it isn’t talked about, and when it does happen it gets downplayed because it doesn’t really matter if some people are offended, upset or scared. Well, I say to you enough is enough. Prejudice happens every day, it is not okay. By simply verbalising my experiences and you doing the same we will create a network of exposure, knowledge and understanding. I’m not saying that this will stop it in its track overnight, but it will reduce the number of times it happens, making more people aware that things like this happen all the time will make them think twice about having prejudices against others or might make them intervene when they see it happening. 

 

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER KIDS, TALK ABOUT IT, STOP THE SPREAD OF PREJUDICE.

Shot by the always lovely Rachel Pechey 

 

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