Magazine Home
A Kinder, Gentler Prejudice

by Dr David, Editor / Publisher

Racial prejudice exists, among all races. We all have it; white, black, brown, yellow, red...

"Both whites and blacks agree that anti-black racism has decreased over the last 60 years, according to the study. However, whites believe that anti-white racism has increased and is now a bigger problem than anti-black racism." - Social Work Today

Prejudice is defined as a "preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience."

Judging before we have all the information is what our brain does. The brain is a reducing filter. There is just too much information coming in to consider it all. Our neurology compartmentalizes, stereotypes, looks for patterns; anything to manage the overwhelming amount of input it receives.

We've all had the experience of not seeing something at first or second glance. An object on a background of the same color is easily overlooked, because our eye usually does not employ a very fine resolution. This accounts for the art of camouflage.

We prejudge (pre-judice) things before we have looked closely at them... and not just visually. Intellectually, also, we often make up our minds without considering all the evidence.

Sometimes, even usually, this looking for patterns, this stereotyping, is a useful strategy. We recognize a friend or acquaintance without realizing that he has recently shaved off his signature mustache. There is a limited amount of information of which our brain can become cognizant. Not everything, not every neural impulse makes it to our brain's frontal lobes. We would not want to be conscious of everything.

Autism, in part, seems to be a hyper-consciousness, an inability to compartmentalize, to separate background from foreground, to focus. The rumble of a passing truck has the same importance as someone speaking to you.

Just like the dog, whose ancestors were bred for tending sheep, is neurologically predisposed (prejudiced) to go around nipping legs, sheep or human, so are we neurologically programmed to divide humanity into Us and Them.

Here again, this is not a wholly bad thing. Recognizing a person's manners as similar to ours allows us to form reasonable expectations of how that person will behave, without fully knowing that person.

Manners foreign to ours require a greater level of intellectual resolution. We have to look more closely, to consider more fully, to become more conscious.

As foreigners in Mexico at times we feel uncomfortable with persons whose manners are different than ours, and they with us. At times we feel the reward of overcoming that discomfort.

On one hand our prejudice of Us and Them has worked pretty well. Tribes, clans and families, the basic units of human society have gotten us this far. On the other hand getting this far has involved a lot of violence against the "other." Then, shutting ourselves off from the other often isolates us from the richness that new perspectives bring.

Overcoming prejudice requires thinking. Some people aren't very good at thinking. Many others are too lazy to make the effort. Then sometimes we just don't have the time.

And then, on top of it all, complicating the matter further, it is not just neurology that prejudices us; it is hormones, and these more obviously so. Take, for example, the policeman who killed George Floyd. Looking at him in that horrible video you can see that he is intoxicated by his raging hormones. There was a confrontation. Floyd did resist arrest, refusing to enter the police car because he was claustrophobic and dropping to the ground. The cop over-reacted, no one questions that. I'm just pointing out that there was a chemical basis to his over-reaction. That chemical basis has a name, "adrenalin."

Sitting in the safety of your home, watching it on video, it's even harder to understand. Just as, from the warm embrace of your couch, it's hard to understand how the rioters in the street can be so savage. Those rioters are also high on adrenalin, that and some participation mystique, some hypnotic, group identification, itself another neurological prejudice.

And those of us sitting at home or watching from the periphery are not immune. We are not ourselves hormone free. Sure there are lots of cynical media manipulators and unscrupulous politicians who understand that racial strife is their path to power. But the celebrities who virtue signal their support of the mayhem, as long as it keeps far from their neighborhoods, are just naive. Still, they get their own hormonal rush by doing so. It comes in the sweet endorphin flood released by your brain when you feel like you belong. Belonging to the group has survival value.

Martin Luther King's March on Washington was a peaceful protest. Even without the looting, violently confronting policemen, attacking passing cars and destroying property does not a peaceful protest make. My favorite video in this regard is from the Minneapolis riots when an MSNBC reporter standing in front of a burning building said: "I want to be clear on how I characterize this. This is mostly a protest. It is not generally speaking unruly." By that logic, throwing a brick at the head of a policeman is mostly peaceful, because the brick flies peacefully for a full five seconds and only impacts the cop's head for an instant.

Members of the radical left, following Rousseau, believe that human beings are good by nature but are rendered corrupt by society. Inherent in this belief is the idea of the Tabula rasa, the "blank slate," the theory that individuals are born without built-in mental content, prejudice, and that we are written upon by our experiences in society. This supposed blankness is central to the Communists' idea that humanity can be remade.

Contrary to this utopian, leftist vision of humanity is the idea that people are basically lazy, selfish and wild, if not downright bad; that it is society that civilizes us and makes us good. Watching the videos of the rioters and George Floyd having the life pressed out of him, I tend to adhere to this later opinion.

All this talk of hormonal responses and neurological programming, that humans are hard-wired, not blank slates, drives the radical left nuts. When you have utopian expectations the slow plod of real reform seems worthless, especially when you are young.

That the protesters derive their convictions of freedom, tolerance and equality from the very Western culture that many of them would like to destroy is ironic. Look kids, I know our society is not perfect, but so far it's the best we have come up with. Positive suggestions for reform are always welcome.

But the agenda of Black Lives Matter to abolish, to defund the police and to set up armed civilian patrols in black neighborhoods to resist police violence is counterproductive. When police-community interactions decline black lives matter less, much, much less; many, many more murders occur in the hood. As for armed civilian neighborhood patrols, the Black Panthers tried that 50 years ago and it didn't work.

The police are the "thin blue line" that keeps society from descending into violent chaos. A thin veneer of civilization keeps a lid on our baser neurological prejudices and hormonal instincts. Last week the thin blue line was crossed and the lid blew off and I, for one, was frightened.

**************

Dr David's roots go deep into the black community, as a future article will make perfectly clear. So just chill out, honkeys. And don't be schooling him about revolution, neither, you who've never stepped out of line in your whole life. He has a few things to show you.

events @ sanmiguelevents.com

Subscribe / Suscribete  
If you receive San Miguel Events newsletter,
then you are already on our mailing list.    
   click ads
copyright 2020