“How do I become less prejudiced?” one of my readers asked.
That’s a powerful question.
As I was thinking about replying to the reader, I had some conversations with my sweetheart; he is a person of color. He noted, “Many of us feel that we’re free of prejudice. But if you observe closely: A person who intellectually tries to be free of prejudice can still exhibit a physical ‘flinch.’ A big flinch can be when an older woman pulls her purse closer to herself when a person of a different race sits in an adjoining chair. A smaller flinch can be when a person’s face shows a wince when that person sees two people of a different race approach.”
I have a number of friends who consider themselves to be free of prejudice. Still, when certain topics come up they become angry, and they have a lot of judgments and grievances against certain individuals.
“It’s hard to be tolerant of people who are not tolerant of you.” – Marianne Williamson
We, Wiccans, find that we face intolerance from people who have been told by their religious leaders that witches are less than (or worse) than others. I admit it. In the past when someone has spouted off about witches and said truly ignorant things, I had some judgments about that person.
As Wiccans, we work with the Shadow-Self (the dark side of oneself that one does NOT want to look at). We can bring light to the Shadow-Self, and I’m going to share Three Steps to Free Yourself of Prejudice.
“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
The following Three Steps help you shine light on the Shadow-Self, understand yourself a bit more, and, perhaps, change in positive ways.
Three Steps to Free Yourself of Prejudice
1. Have good experiences with people who are different from you.
Many times, our prejudices manifest because of having bad experiences or just hearing about bad experiences. Often, people form prejudices when they have had NO experiences with other people who seem so different.
Many Wiccans complain about those people who show contempt for witches without knowing what Wicca really is.
We, Wiccans, can stretch and make a neutral space so we can learn about those people who seem so different from us.
The question is: How does one have good experiences with people unlike ourselves?
Perhaps, you might get involved with a group centered on one of your interests. You might strike up a casual conversation with another group member who seems different from you. Many of us find that it helps when we get out and learn about other cultures/creeds/orientations for ourselves. We learn to avoid letting stereotypes box in our thoughts and feelings.
2. Begin genuine friendships with people different from you.
I have a Caucasian friend who grew up in the South (in a southern state of the USA).
It bothered her that she grew up surrounded by certain Caucasian individuals who daily spouted disparaging remarks about African Americans.
My friend took action. She joined the NAACP; she was often the only Caucasian person in the room. She later moved to California, and continued developing more friendships with African American people. She says, “People are people.”
Getting to know people is a good start. This will give you a deeper appreciation for others with differences.
3. Study another culture’s positive aspects and let go of stereotypes.
It is sometimes amazing how fast people are quick to judge on little fragments of information. One of my friends told me about how some workaholics deride cultures that have an afternoon siesta. Then, this friend worked in a particular bank that had a lounge area where employees could take a nap during their noon break. These employees came back to work with more energy. They proved to be more productive.
Here’s the point. One can look into the history of the siesta. It’s reported that the siesta began as a way to help people in a hot climate avoid two hours of the hottest weather. This was a wise practice to protect the health of local people. Additionally, it was a way to reclaim energy before one went back to work.
So, it’s true that if one knows more, one may avoid being quick to judge.
In summary, you can use the above Three Steps to help free yourself of negative prejudicial thoughts.
Still, the real solution can be found in my friend’s example. She went out of her way to have friends of a different racial background.
So, I invite you to be a candle in the darkness.
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As a Wiccan I found this an inspiring read. Written in a way that makes it accessible to everyone irrespective of their current knowledge. – Shona Cathro
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