Human Beings have the tendency to sort things into group to make it easier to remember or refer too. This act of grouping is also used when we are socializing. Ever since the beginning, due to varying circumstances, we judge people based on external criteria rather than personality. Social standings, financial status, intelligence and even zodiac signs are some ways in which we analyze people. And these “generic analysis criteria” are inherited by all.
As we step into the age of thinking, we start analyzing people based on such criteria. For instance, in school, we tend to group people together as the nerds or jocks. Nerds are supposed to be really good in studies but not good in everything else while jocks are good in sports only. In short, we stereotype; define behavior of an individual based what class he belongs to and what group he joins. Such stereotyping at a young age seems harmless. But as we progress into adult life, thoughts like these affect our judgment of individuals and eventually our decisions.
It is often said that to find out about a person look at the company s/he keeps. As human beings, we do tend to seek out people we have something in common with, yet that doesn’t mean that we share the same personality. Even two friends may have completely opposite thinking. Yet we fail to realize this and the dislike of a particular individual simply makes us dislike his/her friends as well. And our reason for this dislike: if they are his/her friends, they would probably be like him/her.
Consider this: my friend has made some choices in his life that I do not approve of. You know about those choices and you do not approve of them either and you dislike him severely. Yet when you meet me, you would have already decided to dislike me based on your dislike of my friend. Hence, you will never know that I disapproved of his actions. And so, this premature judgment of my personality might have cost you a friendship you may have cherished deeply. Is this fair to either of us, the fact that another human being’s choices and personality define my personality?
A lot of people may declare that they do not let another individual’s choice influence the judgment of the said individuals acquaintances. But this “influence” is something that is injected into our subconscious and it comes into play without us ever realizing it. Ever since high school we have been conducting a preliminary analysis of a person based on the company he/she keeps. And as we grow older, this analysis expands its targets from groups to entire communities. Eventually, we start judging people based on the communities they belong to, or their country, or even their race or beliefs.
What we fail to realize at this point is that our population for such an analysis has increased to much more than a group of friends. The person we are analyzing based on the community or race has not even met most of the people we are judging him/her against. His demographics or psychological background may be much different from the people we are comparing him against. And that does not give him/her a chance at fair analysis.
It is considered that an individual is a representative of his/her community or race. But s/he is also human and his choices should not be assumed to be the choices of his/her community (or race). Everyone in a community, everyone has had varying experiences, some good and some bad. They have had different situations to deal with, different resources, backgrounds, upbringings all of which affect their choices. So while one individual from the same community may go on to win the Nobel Prize, another from the same community may end on the streets struggling for his/her mere existence. Now judging the entire community based on either of the individuals would be unfair to community as a whole or in short racism.
Most of us agree, that one individual or even a hundred are not a true representation of the thousands of people in the community. Yet such discrimination is what we witness every day of our lives, when a nation or a religion is shunned just because of its black sheep.
What I am trying to convey in this entire post is that racism is not just restricted to when you judge a group of people based on their race or beliefs, but it is also racism when you judge a person based on a group or his company. This criteria of judgments attaches itself to us from the moment we open our eyes to the moment we close them…from the beginning till the end. Stereotyping inevitably matures into racism.
A lot of people have tried their best to abolish racism but it cannot be truly abolished until we attack it at it its core. It is an education that should be imparted on individuals since their birth. It should be repeated over and over that individuals must not be judged on the company they keep or the group they belong to and another’s choices must not influence the analysis of an individual. Rather, individuals should be judged on their personality and on their choices alone.
However, this is easier said than done as this criteria of judgment is picked up by us, even against our parents wishes, through our environment: from our friends, in our school and from all those around us. But then again, it is mindset, a way of thinking, and it is never to late to change your mind.