Bigotry is one of the most common hate-inducing problems all over the world. In the 1970s, the US dealt with bigotry and racism issues, from the Civil Rights Movement to other anti-discrimination practices. The television series “All In The Family” was created to shed light on many relevant issues of the day. The world got to know Archie Bunker as America’s favorite bigot. He was a racist and a chauvinist. What became inherently clear was that he was not a bad person, just misguided and misunderstood. For all of his misconceptions and little quirks, he would eventually do the right thing.
Archie Bunker was a fictional character. He was created to shed light on some very traumatic events that were transpiring in an unfriendly world. Today, bigots still exist, but now they can be much more sinister and hurtful than Archie Bunker could ever have tried to be. With the introduction of social media, groups can spread their messages of hate and slander to a much larger audience than ever. They can send threats anonymously through emails and disposable phones. The best way to fight bigotry is to educate as many people as possible about the issues at hand.
What is bigotry?
The definition of bigotry points at those who has a very strong dislike or hatred for specific groups of individuals who are different from them. The groups do not have to be of a different race or religion. A bigot may only dislike members of the LBGTQ community or people who like tattoos and piercings. Some bigots focus on political groups.
The basic difference between a bigot and a racist is that a racist has problems with individuals or groups of a different race, color or culture. Bigots do not necessarily differentiate only because of race. For example, women in the 50’s and 60’s, fought for equality when it came to pay for the same job and the same rights as men when it came to discrimination in the workplace. In some cases, the discrimination is still there, just not as widespread as in the past.
Many people don’t really understand what bigotry is. They may claim that a bigot is one who is set in their beliefs and refuses to change. While this is true, it is a very general definition that does not explain the qualities a person must possess to actually be called a bigot.
Types of Bigots
There are several types of bigots. Some are rather common, while others may not be perceived as true bigots but fit a generalized definition of the term. Close minded individuals, often elderly, are very stubborn about their beliefs. They refuse to acknowledge any belief system other than their own.
“Extreme bigots” are those who go to the farthest point possible when defining their beliefs. A good example of this is the Neo-Nazi or white supremacist groups. They believe the Arian nation is the only true nation and that all other races and classes of people are beneath them. The Klu Klux Klan are another form of extreme bigotry. Existing for over 100 years, the KKK target any minority that is not Christian Caucasian.
The “I’m not always a bigot” attitude is found in people who tolerate others as long as it doesn’t affect their close circle of family and friends. They do not mind that people of other races or religions live in the community as long as they do not date or become friends with a family member. If the other groups stay at a distance and do not threaten the person’s way of life, they normally do not care if they are around.
The Effects of Bigotry
Bigotry is based on hate. Hate is a learned response, especially when it comes to children. A child may intensely dislike green beans or creamed corn, but they do not “hate” it per say. A child will learn to hate or intensely dislike something if they see their parents, siblings or other role models acting hateful towards something or someone. Since hate is a learned emotion, it can also be unlearned. Being taught to hate can lead to discrimination and racism. This can lead to misunderstandings, emotional and aggressive outbursts, violence and harassment.
While bigotry can be learned by the youngest of children, it can also be prevented. Teaching very young children about diversity can help them embrace the differences in the people around them. The innocence of a child can be corrupted by bigotry. It can also be maintained when the child is taught that people are the same no matter what their religion, culture, lifestyle or race happens to be.
When bigotry is allowed to spread into schools, children become bullies and tend to spread messages of hate that they have learned from their parents. If the bigotry is allowed to continue, the child who bullied others may turn into an adult who abuses people who he perceives to be different. Unless the behavior is unlearned and the cycle is broken, it will continue to perpetuate itself among the person’s family and friends.
Teaching diversity to children and young adults can help prevent adverse reactions from occurring. Bigotry and bigoted behaviors can lead to riots, break-ins, robberies, assaults and various types of hate crimes. Even though a child has been taught these behaviors, they are still young enough to educate them about diversity. Taking the time to work with students and allow them to see that all people are the same and each one has something of value to offer will help reduce the effects of bigotry on their individual lives.
In the Workplace
A bigot who works at a large facility or company can cause problems for employees they don’t like. It is important to prevent the person from acting out on their beliefs in the work place. Most people will control their outbursts simply because they value their jobs. Allowing a person to treat others with disrespect and hateful comments can create an extremely negative work environment. This can eventually lead to dissension among the other employees.
Taking control of a situation like this falls squarely on the shoulders of management who must assess the situation and find a way to resolve the conflict so that both people are treated fairly. Offering counseling may be just one option. If the counseling does not work and the disrespect and hateful attitude continues, the only option may be to terminate the persons’ employment. Many companies have these policies outlined in their handbooks and discuss the repercussions of this type of behavior during the initial interview when hiring the person.
Talking to children about the differences in people at an early age can dramatically reduce bigoted tendencies, even if their parents hold tight to their beliefs. Children are more likely to believe that diversity is a good thing and embrace the uniqueness that each person brings. Even when working with preteens, it is possible to reduce or even prevent bigoted tendencies. The more a child is exposed to diversity and taught that being different is acceptable, the more likely children are to choose love and friendship over hate and discrimination.