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Here's What Bigotry and Prejudice Really Look Like

Here's What Bigotry and Prejudice Really Look Like

Here's What Bigotry and Prejudice Really Look Like

It's not as simple as stupidity.

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Bigotry and ignorance plague the minds of people of all ages, from fearless first graders to lethargic elders pondering the days when things were different. Anyone from anywhere can be prejudice and judge people without any consideration of ethics or logic. People feel and therefore they accept it as truth. It doesn't help, of course, when these values are encouraged by parents, mentors, partners, friends, and colleagues. People become so consumed by their hatred, masquerading as logic that they don't notice the hurt and discomfort they cause in people they know and in the people they'll never know. 

It's hard to navigate and even harder to deal with prejudice directly. Some people create racist, sexist, transphobic, ableist, classist, prejudice, judgmental narratives in order to cope with feelings and experiences within their reality. It spirals from there. The person has to believe they're right, that #BlackLivesMatter is all about riots, that feminism is all about hating men, that trans people are creeping into bathrooms.

They believe it for a while, they talk about it, they let their thoughts be known. Then, one day, someone confronts them about it and they panic. Usually, they lash out at others who they've negatively dubbed Social Justice Warriors (SJW). They call them naive, stupid, ignorant and every name in the book.

It seems like a powerful offense, but really it's just an aggressive defense. Here's the thing; many people who experience prejudice feelings won't admit they're wrong. If they admit they're wrong, the shame and pain that they've inflicted on other communities will fall back on them. They're not ready for that weight. Even more, they're not ready to take off the rose-colored glasses and accept the heavy responsibility of knowing just how screwed up, brutal, and unequal our world is.

It's difficult being "woke". You don't have the privilege of lying to yourself anymore. You don't fall asleep as easily. You feel awful all the time because people and animals everywhere suffer. This is why most people run from the truth.

It's easier to vilify the minority than to stand up to the majority. People just want to get by in life with little to no trouble, and standing up for justice in this world is one sure-fire way to ask for trouble. We feel only responsible for ourselves, falsely assuring ourselves deep down that someone else will help all the people who need it.

With all this in mind, bigotry and prejudice seem more pitiful than anything else. The fact that it's pitiful can't and won't ever be able to erase all the damage they caused. What we end up with, ultimately, is a wildly uncomfortable dichotomy within which we feel torn between feeling bad for weak people who can't accept sugar-free reality and lashing out at them for disparaging and harming others. There is no one way to handle bigotry and ignorance, as those two are as unique as the people who hold them. 

We must remind ourselves that bigotry and ignorance are often much more than a lack of knowledge. We can't write people off as stupid, because it allows them to escape the guilt and consequences of their actions. People don't always know better, but the world is a much more connected place than it was a decade ago. 

To the "woke," engaged and passionate, I say only this: Stay strong. To the bigoted and ignorant: Be brave.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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Buffy Flores

Aries/Taurus cusp, Latinx, vegan, femme person, and the biggest Buffy fan you know. Now writing for Bustle, PRIDE, Everyday Feminism, and The Rumpus. Passionate, deeply feeling, sometimes angry, mostly emotional. Wants to make people feel less lonely in the world. Follow them on Twitter @buffyonabudget.

Aries/Taurus cusp, Latinx, vegan, femme person, and the biggest Buffy fan you know. Now writing for Bustle, PRIDE, Everyday Feminism, and The Rumpus. Passionate, deeply feeling, sometimes angry, mostly emotional. Wants to make people feel less lonely in the world. Follow them on Twitter @buffyonabudget.