January 21, 2023

Week 03 2023

  • brains
  • diversity
  • prejudice
  • social cognition

Prejudice came to mind this week—not sure where from. Maybe I read a headline or something. But the idea that people pre-judge others is asinine. I get why humans do it, though. Our brains are cognitive misers—they want to reduce as much energy spent as possible. They’re also wired to preserve our species and ourselves (think… keep us from being eaten by a saber tooth tiger or mugged by a robber). Our brains want to keep us alive and safe, and they want to continue the species.

But pre-judging others removes the chance of knowing them for who they are. When I was in 6th grade, a neighbor once said that stereotypes exist because they are usually true. That didn’t sit well with me in 1986, and it still doesn’t play. People are more than their race, age, hair color, sexual orientation, body type, love of sci-fi, you name it. These qualities shouldn’t be ignored, and they are important qualities, but they are never the basis for pre-judging someone. This week I thought a lot about how I may have pre-judged others and how I can reduce the chance it would happen. I grappled with the idea… “how can I be better at taking people for who they are—letting them reveal themselves through our time together?”.

Once, someone told me that, though I got an MFA degree in design from the University of North Texas, I was actually a strong researcher and teacher. As if a degree from UNT was inferior to other places. They pre-judged me based on my degree. It felt awful (and I recognize that many are prejudged for far more stupid reasons like their race or wearing a hoodie or a Taqiyah, my experience is superficial compared with those scenarios).

How can we, as a society, give people a chance to show us who they are? To let others have the chance to change and grow? How can we disconnect our brain’s snap judgments? I’m working on that. I hope to find ways to help others do the same so we can know one another in all our richness.

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