Nice, reasonable people like us are “we,” and strangers with weird beliefs are “they.” This is how many of us see the world. But every “us” is somebody else’s “them.”
Those who hold hidden assumptions or stereotypes consider them a recognition of reality, not a prejudice. A common reaction is “you might be prejudiced”, but “I’m a realist”. What is prejudice for “them” is merely a recognition of “the way things are” for “us”.
Them and Us explores common thinking habits to show how they can easily lead to hidden assumptions, bias, and prejudice. Stereotyping and prejudice are not limited to the ignorant or closed-minded. Its beginnings lie in the almost automatic need to group people into categories and to identify clear “us” and “them” groups.
The program assumes it is better to identify and challenge your own bias rather than declare yourself bias-free. We each have some hidden assumptions about some people types -- age, gender, race, ethnicity, size, nationality, or lifestyle. Not about specific minority groups, it rather explores the mental processes we use to deal with other cultures, with people who do not fit our category of “us.”
• How all cultures assume their ways are best and natural. Watch a meal in which four people eat in differing, culturally-determined ways. Eavesdrop on hidden beliefs each holds about how “foreigners” eat.
• That your genetic inheritance might make you a member of a minority group that no one has ever bothered to classify as a “them.”
• Some simple habits of perception that illustrate how “people typing” and stereotypes are extensions of how our brains work to make sense of the world.
Copyright © 2007