It’s quite difficult nowadays to come by anyone who admits to never having been stereotyped. As college students, we go through prejudices nearly every day. Most of those stereotypical actions are so overtly expressed that they leave no doubt as to whom they were intended for. Other acts of prejudice are thinly veiled, ostensibly to try and make the object of the stereotype feel good about themselves, but still, take the message anyway. Stereotypes have led to some of the world’s most brazen massacres and persecutions. Of notable mentions include the Holocaust, the Trail of Tears, and even slavery.
We suffer all kinds of prejudices in colleges, that’s a given. Not only do these stereotypes affect our grades and social development, but they also leave a lasting impression on how we view the world and society in general. But for objects of prejudice, there are only two options to explore. You can choose to play the victim and hope the oppressors will change someday. Or, you can take charge and rise above every prejudicial treatment directed at you.
Right off the bat, let’s warn against submitting to any stereotypes. Doing so is tantamount to declaring the oppressor’s powers over you. But what if you’re the perpetrator? How do you recognize and overcome your own prejudices and biases in college? That shall be the focus of this post, but first things first.
How to Recognize and Overcome Your Own Prejudices in College
Take a Course in Prejudice
The best way to tackle your prejudices in college is to first understand what those stereotypes are. Appreciating that you have a problem is key to overcoming prejudice. And to do that, you may consider taking a course in prejudice.
The first thing you will learn is that prejudices have nothing to do with your present situation, but rather it’s an attitude problem. The course will also introduce you to the unconscious bias, which is the primary cause of most prejudicial treatments out there.
You’ll appreciate the fact that you’ve also expressed prejudice at one point, and that the problem exists in our unconscious minds. It’s only after knowing what those biases are that you can successfully overcome them.
Be Empathetic To Others
Showing empathy to other people’s feelings can significantly help you overcome your prejudices. That especially applies if you’ve also been a victim of discrimination. To Kill a Mockingbird essay would be resourceful in helping put that into better perspective. Through the essay, you are free to learn of the many examples in the novel of how some characters used empathy to overcome their gender and racial biases. After that, you can extrapolate these lessons into your college environment to successfully overcome your own stereotypes.
For instance, you may have once been racially abused but now find yourself in a college setting where your oppressors form the minority. You can use your past experiences to express empathy instead of showing stigma.
Understand That It’s Human Nature
You should remember that even people who were brought up in the most cultured environments are predisposed to stigma. If you were born in a wealthy family and didn’t step into a shanty till you were 21, you’d believe all poor people are sluggards. Therefore, another tip to overcoming your prejudices is understanding that it’s an intrinsic behavior. Let’s do a To Kill a Mockingbird literary analysis to help put that into perspective.
During Tom Robinson’s trial, we see Atticus making one of the most thought-provoking submissions to the jury. Atticus argues that immorality is a human problem and not necessarily a problem of specific races. His appeal is inspired by the glorious sentiments in the Declaration of Independence, which presupposes that all humans are equal. And his own admission that “there’s something in our world that makes men lose their heads–they couldn’t be fair if they tried’’ helps reinforce the notion that all humans are prejudicial by nature.
Diversify Your Social Circles
Another golden tip on how to overcome prejudice in college is to diversify your social spheres. Most college students tend to go for friends that are drawn from their own race, language, and academic abilities. It’s only natural to get attracted to people with whom we easily get along. However, associating only with students who are so similar to you in every aspect doesn’t help address your prejudices.
Why not consider diversifying? Start by seeking relationships with a cross-race friend. If you’re a white student in a predominantly white college, it will help to forge friendships with as many black students as possible. Even though the black population in your college suggests they’re a minority group, you won’t necessarily view them as such if you associate with them.
Reframe Negative Thoughts
All acts of prejudice emanate from negative thoughts. For instance, if your friends continuously ridicule you for your inability to pass exams, you may believe that perhaps you were born to fail. Therefore, you could start to view everything with the lens of failure. Tasks that would have otherwise been very easy to execute suddenly begin to bog you down.
But that’s not all; negative thoughts will cause you to view everyone else as evil. You’ll even begin to doubt the loyalties of those friends who always stood up for you. Eventually, you’ll become very prejudicial, constantly prejudging everyone’s intentions and opinions about you.
All that underscores the importance of reframing negative thoughts. The fact that you aren’t performing so well in your studies doesn’t mean you can’t sing or play soccer. And neither does it mean everyone else that holds a low opinion of you deserves the same treatment. In another To Kill a Mockingbird literary analysis, we can take some cues from Scout’s discussion with Atticus on why women can’t serve on juries. In the ensuing lengthy discussion, the two tend to dispel the cozy impression that certain assignments are a preserve of men. They end up agreeing, though passively, that it’s all due to the ingrained negative perceptions about women.
Overcoming your prejudices in college begins by appreciating you have a problem. You can then explore the numerous resources out there to rise above these stereotypes. From reading novels like To Kill a Mockingbird, to adjusting your social circles, and even reframing your thoughts; there are many solutions at your disposal. If it comes down to it, enlist for therapy sessions with a professional counselor.