Tuesday, September 25, 2007

D (definition) Day

I was tooling around the Internet yesterday and came across a statement that biases were based in facts while prejudice was not based on facts. That struck me as odd, so I decided to look around a bit more. I wanted other opinions on the differences between bias and prejudice.

I found these definitions from Southern Mississippi University the most succinct and informative-and considering their location in the Deep South, I assumed that they were pretty familiar with bias, prejudice and its consequences.

So here goes:

There are many definitions for the word "bias". In human relationships, the most important of these connects bias with prejudice.Bias implies unfair judgment based on these arbitrary human characteristics. It's also something we all do, whether through a systematic like or dislike of certain characteristics, or simply through lack of familiarity with the world of human difference.

Prejudice is a feeling we have about one another and our human characteristics: age, facial features, hair texture, body size and shape, gender, skin color, nationality, language, religious values, cultural values, sexual orientation ... the list is endless!

When people act on their biased feelings -- whether intentionally or unintentionally -- then they are acting out "isms", such as racism, sexism, ageism, heterosexism ... the list is endless and devastating to human potential. This is what is meant by terms such as "harassment" and "discrimination."

When all is said and done, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck-then it is a duck. So, lets be honest and not get caught up in semantics. We need to own our biases, stereotypes and prejudices-and not let our kids imitate them.

With Respect,

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