A week and a half ago, I was privileged to experience a mental shift. I was supposed to meet someone. He was different from me by all standards. He was male, came from a different tribe and is affiliated to a different religion.
Choosing my outfit was difficult. Not because I am a fashionista, but because my outfit was determined by only one thing: my prejudice. Would he look at me and dismiss me for being young, and female? Would his religious beliefs cause him to look down on me?
I couldn’t find any ‘worth’ outfit. I had to borrow my sister’s which was more ‘appropriate’ in my own way. I left the house anxious, praying that somehow I would not have to face the pain of discrimination.
Needless to say, he turned out to be an amazing person. Interestingly, we shared a lot – our professional background, passion for what we do, and even interestingly, we were in the same line of business. He was a great passion by many standards, I could tell. Spending an hour with him was refreshing. When I left, the passion for my work had been fanned. I was overly inspired.
It was time to look at my own bias. Why did I discriminate him? Why did I make my own assumptions? He did not deserve the definitions I had placed on my narrow mind. I may have my upbringing to blame. But, now that I know the truth, why not choose to see things differently? I was taught to see everyone guilty until proven innocent. Why not the vice versa? Why not give everyone a chance to prove themselves as good or bad?
I am still shocked by what prejudice, bias and stereotypes can do to a society. I can only use my pen or my fingers to type away behind a screen. But do you see where I am coming from? It is I, you to choose the response.