What type of damage has prejudice caused?

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wordprof eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Before addressing the historical damage of racial and gender prejudice, we should remember that “pre-judgment” is really an error in logical thinking.  To judge something—anything—on insufficient evidence is always damaging to our logical, controlling, reason-swamped mind.  If you pre-judged vanilla ice-cream before tasting it, and rejected it because it had little black specks of something in it (turns out to be vanilla beans), you would be “damaged” by not enjoying vanilla ice-cream.  In science, you can make hypotheses on a little evidence, but not theories.  In Western history, we made a prejudicial judgment on non-white races, mainly because the white race had advanced faster on some fronts—weaponry, for example—than the (by definition) “conquered” races of the Indian subcontinent and the African continent.  This “pre-judgment” cost us several centuries of social progress; the American slave-trade history is a case in point. Because the African peoples entered our society as slaves rather than as fellow citizens and human beings, we underwent a bloody and destructive civil war, followed by another century of slow assimilation. And we wasted decades of their contribution to our American life.  As controversial as, for example, the Black Panthers were, they showed America that it could benefit not merely from assimilating the Black race into White “culture”, but from adding Black culture into American culture.  Something like the same process prevailed in the Feminist Revolution of the 20th century.  The “damage” of prejudice to social progress is delay and inefficiency.  The damage to individuals is immeasurable and irredeemable.  Today, racial and gender prejudice are simply stupid.  Pre-judgment, however, is still a part of the thinking process, to be immediately overcome by wisdom and clear thinking.

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