Today’s post was going to be on anger and its management, but in the middle of writing it, something popped into my head that made me stop and start from the beginning, and a particular pet-peeve of mine, prejudice. [dictionary.com defines prejudice as: Any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable.] So if one is to use that definition, even a complimentary prejudice is still prejudice (i.e. All black men can jump). So that would also invalidate the statist theory that only white people can be prejudice, any one can, and likely is.
But what is it exactly that makes prejudice bad? Simply that it is not fair to judge someone by their race, ethnicity, religion, eye color, or what ever superficial aspect one chooses to focus on? I think, we can all agree to that fact, but shall we not stop at that level of simplicity, and dig a bit deeper? If you see a snake in the grass do you back away, just in case that snake is poisonous? BAM prejudice against snakes, (good thing the ACLU doesn’t represent reptiles, huh?) All sarcasm aside, I do wonder as many people no doubt do as well, where does prejudice start and doing basic risk analysis end?
I have ensured my children, my soldiers, my friends and my family know that being situationally aware and using basic risk analysis is a damn good way to ensure you do not become a victim of some horrid tragedy. Do those methods make you 100% safe, no, but an armed bodyguard of a 100 men doesn’t either, but you don’t see the rich and famous forgoing their guards do you? While obviously the rich and famous are much more likely to run across a crazed fan, you and I are far more likely to run across some creep who wants our money or what-have-you.
Now I will be honest, I really could not care less (FYI, it drives me insane when people say ‘I could care less’, the phrase is ‘I could NOT care less’, that actually makes sense the former does not) what other people think of my views of the world in regard to my personal safety, as long as it does not impose some sort of constraint on someone else. As such, I am always armed (well not always…but you know what I mean. and always within the law 😀 I live in Texas, so not many things to worry about here, other humans is primary threat but not a significant one). In situations where I am traveling, I am armed depending on the nature of my travel and the legal constraints of my destination(s), all rather logical.
Here is where the situation gets a bit more sticky, if I had to travel to Los Angles, again depending where I planned to hang out, the basic risk assessment would have to logically include what groups might pose a threat to me. Hence, if I was to be traveling to a mosque, I’d be a tad more aware than if I were to be traveling to some event crowded with cat lovers. (not that cat lovers can’t be violent, they just tend to be less violent than the average human, one rarely hears stories of “Creepy Cat Lady attacks dog walker in local park”. Just saying.)
So again that horrible question pops up, Where does prejudice begin, and basic risk analysis end? This makes me think of a good friend I had in the army, he was from East St. Louis, he grew up there, his family was from there and so were his friends, but he refused to ever go there again, he would fly into St.Louis, and make his family drive across the river to him. Shall we take a look at East St.Louis?
* Population: 27,000 (2010)
* 72% of the 11,000 households are single mother or non-family households
* 97.7% African-American
* 42.5% of the population is under the age of 24
* median household income is $21k, and 35.1% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Which factors would impact your analysis of personal risk, well population is rather small, but it is a large number of people in a small area, the fact that 72% of households are non-married couples, that means more crime, the fact that the population is 97.7% black, means that a non black will stick out significantly more (and be more likely to be targeted for a criminal act because of it), with nearly half the population under the age of 24, means higher crime rates, the low-income rate, and high number of people living below the poverty line, again means higher crime rates.
Do these prejudices invalidate the obvious correlation between those facts and the fact that East St.Louis does have a crime problem? [20 times the national murder rate, 8 times the national average rape rate, robbery, assault, burglary, and car theft averages 5 to 16 times the national average.] So again I ask, where does basic risk analysis end, and prejudice begin?
I apologize if I have rambled on and on, but this is something that just gets stuck in my craw. I know the world is not a fair place, but that being said and well-known, doesn’t change the fact that I don’t want to contribute to any more unfairness in the world. I truly think that most prejudice is a simple side effect of humans needed to ‘pack up’.
The increasing isolationism in our society due to technological innovations, have meant that people need other ways to feel part of their ‘pack’ and denigrating the ‘enemy pack’ is one of the most popular and effective ‘team building’ exercises.