Dave T's Pros and Cons of Stuff Everyone Has: Prejudices
Asians are bad drivers.
Asians are good at math.
All Italians are in the mob.
Italians are great lovers.
All Irish people are alcoholics.
Irish people are friends with leprechauns and know the whereabouts of various pots of gold around the world.
Ecuadorians can’t correctly use any word longer than five letters.
Lithuanian people explode if you hug them too forcefully.
If you tip back a Zimbabwean’s head, giant Pez comes out of his or her neck.
Robots don’t like the sound of running water.
Martians are obsessed with American boy bands, particularly 98 Degrees.
All gorillas are atheists.
These are PREJUDICES.
Don’t know what they are?
Prejudices are preconceived judgments—both positive and negative—made about a group (ethnic, religious, etc.) based on opinion, emotion, or supposed empirical evidence rather than fact.
• Some prejudices are funny. I’m Italian-American, and I find the “all Italians are in the mob” stereotype hilarious. My family is so not-mob-affiliated it’s ridiculous.
Though the dad of my best friend in grade school was in the mob.
And the dad of my best friend in high school was too.
Maybe that one is truer than I give it credit for.
Either way, it still makes me laugh when people are edgy around me because they think getting on my bad side will lead to waking up with a horse head in their sheets or getting gunned to death in a toll booth.
• Some prejudices save our lives. The prejudice “polar bears will rip your head off and sodomize your blood-gushing neck hole if given the chance” will keep you from getting close enough to a polar bear to let it do that to you.
• A good prejudice can work to your advantage. I bet that black dudes with not-so-big dingdongs are happy to get extra attention from women who think they are hung like a plantain and otherwise wouldn’t give them the time of day.
A small Chinese guy may be saved from getting mugged by a prejudiced mugger who believes all Chinese dudes know kung fu.
• As bad as they are, sometimes prejudices can unite people. Uniting against a common enemy is a recurring theme in human history.
If you’re a Hutu at a party in Rwanda, and you hear some other Hutus talking about hating the Tutsis, you may stroll up to them and go, “Hey, I hate the Tutsis too!” And they may say “Then you’re cool beans with us. We’re having a board game night on Friday, wanna come?”
• Prejudices are time-savers. If you’re wondering “is this person in the car in front of me going to make any dangerous maneuvers that I should be on the lookout for?” and you see that said driver is an old Asian woman, then you have three good reasons to suspect that, yes, you should be vigilant.
Total Pros: 5
• Prejudices against your particular ethnicity can really hurt your feelings. If you're a black guy dressed in hip hop clothing and you get into an elevator and an older white lady in the elevator clutches her purse, that has to sting a bit.
• People who defy their stereotypes often disappoint people and feel guilty for no reason. When you ask your Asian friend Dong Jeong Chŏng for help with math, and he can’t help you, you’re more upset with his poor tutelage than you would be if you’d asked your Scandinavian friend Bjorn Jørgensen.
Same goes for the not-hung-like-a-plantain black dudes I mentioned in Pros; women see their wieners and are disappointed, but if a similar wiener were on my body, they’d be high-fiving themselves for their good fortune—and probably wondering why a white dude's wiener was so dark.
• Racial profiling is sucky. It has led to many innocent black men getting Rodney Kinged, and many innocent turbaned gentlemen getting gloved fingers shoved up their poopers at the airport.
• Prejudices can hold you back from connecting to people you would become great friends with. That guy at your job who wears skinny jeans, ironic T-shirts, Buddy-Holly Glasses, rides a ten-speed to work, and eats seitan burgers every day at lunch might be a nice guy and not a pretentious hypocritical douche face.
I once saw a documentary about non-racist skinheads. They were just into the German version of heavy metal and had nothing against other races. But if I saw a skinhead in the lunchroom at work, I wouldn’t go say hi.
Maybe skinhead guy and hipster dude would make friends.
• We have a tendency to see what we want to see in order to reaffirm our prejudices, which does the world a lot of harm.
• The power of prejudice on the human mind has allowed shit-tastic groups like the Nazis to come to power, start wars, and kill millions.
It’s also allowed people like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh to have careers.
Total Cons: 6
So, 5 Pros, 6 Cons, I think we can safely get rid of prejudices, gang! Yes, it was a close race, but that last con about genocide way tipped the scale.
Tomorrow, when you're walking down the street and see a guy covered in tattoos with a blue Mohawk who has bloodshot eyes and is brandishing a broken bottle as he staggers toward you, your first thought won’t be “Oh no! I’m getting mugged, raped, killed, or some combination thereof!” Instead, it will be “I have some Visine in my purse. I should offer him a few drops.”
‘Til next time, Ciao!