Are We Inherently Prejudiced?

The following is the closing argument from the movie “A Time to Kill”. If you’ve seen the movie or read the book, you know how it ends. If you haven’t, please take a few minutes to view this scene.

Based upon personal experience, I would answer the question, “Are we inherently prejudiced?” in the affirmative. I consider myself very open and accepting of other nationalities, races and even people of faiths outside my own. I think I can honestly say that if one of my children fell in love with, and chose to marry someone of a different race or nationality, it truly would not bother me. However, born of a caucasian father and a Japanese mother, I believe my experiences and my viseral reactions are colored by my heritage.

We’ve all seen commercials asking us to help feed, clothe, save the children of the world. Based on your own heritage, is your reaction the same regardless of whether the children are filmed in Africa? South America? Asia? North America? If I’m being honest, my emotions are triggered more by seeing the starving Asian child than the other children in the same circumstances. It’s not intentional, I’m not unaffected by the other children. But something is stirred in me on a deeper level because I sense a connection.
What about the news story about the child that was abducted, missing and/or murdered?

Does your heart ache equally for this child:
As it does for this one?:
This is not intended to be a “Guilt” post. I’m honestly curious if you have similar experiences.
If man is made in God’s image, then what exactly does that mean? If Jesus were to return to earth tomorrow, would it matter what He looked like? I’m certainly not a biblical scholar, but I’d be willing to bet a dollar that the historical Jesus didn’t have blue eyes and sandy blond hair. I imagine he looked very much like someone you would think twice about sitting next to on an airplane.
I guess my point is, if we’re to love one another as we are commanded to do, perhaps we need to take the time to learn from each other’s cultural experiences. I will never truly know what it’s like to be discriminated against because I am black or latino, but I do understand what it feels like to be treated differently because of the color of my skin and the subtle differences in my facial features. Does this make me more sensitive and empathetic to the injustices inflicted on others around the world? I certainly hope so….

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17 Responses to “Are We Inherently Prejudiced?”

  1. Rebecca July 19, 2008 at 7:30 pm #

    >I would say “Yes” we are inherently prejudiced, because we are all taught by our culture at a young age what is considered “good” and what is considered “bad.”

    You stated that it wouldn’t bother you if one of your children chose to marry someone of a different race or nationality. What if they chose to marry someone that is of a faith different than your own?

  2. katdish July 19, 2008 at 7:48 pm #


    Yes. It would bother me very much if they choose to marry someone of a different faith. I would like to think that their personal relationship with Jesus Christ would strongly influence their in choosing a mate. And while my prayer is and would be that they would put Christ first in their lives, that’s one decision that each individual must make for themselves.

    Wow! That was a really tough question!

  3. Rebecca July 19, 2008 at 8:06 pm #

    >I like to ask hard questions! 🙂

  4. mutleythedog July 20, 2008 at 5:51 pm #


  5. Kris July 20, 2008 at 9:17 pm #

    >hey, don’t ever bust my chops about controversial posts again. 😉

    i do not think we are inherently prejudiced, but as we grow in our culture, it grows within us. it is totally an environmental hazard.

    based on the presidential race we are in now, prejudice is still strong. many are voting for obama strictly because his skin is black and many are voting against him for the same reason. nothing else matters to these individuals.


  6. lastrow July 20, 2008 at 10:31 pm #

    >What about feeling more comfortable around those who just happen to look like oneself?

    Could this be counted as prejudice?

    Whether it is or not, it is the reality within the Church. Though much has changed since MLK’s words about church being the most segregated hour in America, there is much work to be done still.

  7. Christine July 21, 2008 at 2:50 am #

    >I don’t think we are born prejudiced because toddlers will play with each other no matter the color. But then, as we grow, we start to notice things about ourselves that are “different” and we aren’t so sure about the world anymore. Fear enters in and, with our sin nature that IS inherent, we begin to blame our problems on others. People always look for a blacksheep so they don’t have to face their sin. I don’t think prejudice will ever be eradicated until we all see that Christ was THE blacksheep for us. The ground at the cross is completely level, and we are all the same.

    (Except that, as Kris told me this morning, I have great hair!)

  8. katdish July 21, 2008 at 8:04 am #


    I don’t think being more comfortable around those who share a common background is necessarily prejudiced, but let me play the devil’s advocate for a minute. What if Kris or Christine had posted the same comment? Would that be taken differently? I think cultural differences are a good thing when we share and learn with one another. Certain cultures value family and dedicate time to cultivate and nourish these relationships. That is a practice that while I personally was not raised around, feel that my family would greatly benefit from. I love the church described in Acts 2: “42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer….(44)All the believers were together and had everything in common. (45)Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. (46)Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, (47)praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

    I think Christine summed it up very well: “The ground at the cross is completely level and we are all the same.”

  9. jamie in rose cottage July 21, 2008 at 8:20 am #

    >Wow, deep thoughts! I’d like to think I’m not prejudice, but we all have prejudices of some kind, even if it’s not about race or nationality. Unfortunately, I’m very conscious of other’s prejudices, and it affects me. We don’t care what race we adopt, but as I stood on Saturday holding the hands of two precious black little boys, waiting to cross the street in front of a pick-up truck with a confederate flag tag in a town once famous for the KKK, I wondered if being their mom would be something I could actually handle. At home I know I’d be colorblind, but the world is not…

  10. lastrow July 21, 2008 at 10:59 am #

    >Yeah, I acknowledge that an ugly double standard exists. It’s “OK” for minority groups to isolate themselves on the grounds of shared cultural experience, but when the majority group does likewise it is perceived as xenophobia (at best) and racism (at worst).

    Then they are forced to confess at the altar of so-called tolerance.

    The early church is a great model for us for a variety of reasons, some you have already listed. Yet even they had their own problems as we see in Acts 7 when it came to the distribution of food amongst the widows.

    Though I won’t go as far to say that prejudice fueled their decisions, it for sure had to do with looking out for “one’s own” (Hebraic Jews) over others (Grecian Jews). Ironically the problem was within one ethnic group.

    Yet they seemed to straighten things out somewhat by the time we got to Antioch in Ch. 13, where the list of elders is recorded.

    “In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul.”

    Barnabas (a Grecian Jew), Simeon was black as his nickname tells us, Lucius was African, Manaen was wealthy and was apparently well connected, and if that wasn’t enough to drive up the diversity meter you had a Pharisee (recovering) to top it all off.

    Diversity (in the leadership no less!) not for its own sake but for the sake of the glory of God, a model to incessantly strive for.

  11. katdish July 21, 2008 at 3:58 pm #

    >Jamie – Your experience is exactly what I so feebly tried to communicate in the post. While you didn’t experience what it feels like to be a minority, you had a taste of what it must be like to be judged based on stereotypes. Being a “mixed breed”, you would think I would see both sides of the issue, but I can’t recall ever being mistaken for caucasian. (Although, I like to think I put the “asian” in “caucasian”.) Often people judge me on what they think I am. Here in South Texas, people often start speaking Spanish to me. When I tell them I don’t speak their language, they are surprised. I’ve even had people say, “Are you sure?”. Like I’m gonna say, “Oh yeah, I forgot. I actually DO speak Spanish! Thanks for reminding me. Que pasa?” When I visit the in-laws in New Mexico, people assume I’m Native American. Some people guess correctly and see my “Asian-ness”, many think I’m Hawaiian. The only people that seem genuinely surprised that I’m half Japanese are Japanese people. Go figure!

    Laz – remind me never to challenge you to a game of bible trivia! I’m definately not worthy!

  12. Kris July 21, 2008 at 5:03 pm #

    >on another note. i was sad sunday. seeing you on stage for the last time.

    like i said,

    we’ll miss your face


  13. jamie in rose cottage July 21, 2008 at 5:39 pm #

    >Hey, Kat– come read my Rose Cottage post today and tell me what you think: “Inconvenient”

    I always value your input & thoughts!

  14. lastrow July 22, 2008 at 12:41 am #

    >“Often people judge me on what they think I am. Here in South Texas, people often start speaking Spanish to me. When I tell them I don’t speak their language, they are surprised…”

    LOL, yeah I’ve been on the other side of this one. My mom used to get upset at store employees who, in her opinion, should speak Spanish (read: look Hispanic). For some odd reason Wal-Mart had a strong concentration…

    Growing up this was not a happy occasion for me because then I’d have to act as translator between one upset Mexican woman and a Hispanic-looking person who couldn’t tell the difference between Spanish and Hungarian.

    Good times…

  15. dorothy (vicar of vibe) July 24, 2008 at 1:58 am #

    >not related to this post.
    I just caught your coment on starbucksevangelism
    I hadn’t enabled e-mail notifications yet.
    I’ve blurked around your stuff too…

  16. Helen July 31, 2008 at 4:02 pm #

    >I hope you don’t mind, but I answered your question as a post on my blog. Your post has had me thinking for several days. And it hurts. Stop it! (Just kidding. This was a great post)


  1. Kishi Kaisei | - March 13, 2011

    […] words how much my heart breaks for the people of Japan. I’ve raised the question here before, Are we inherently prejudiced? Perhaps prejudice is not the right word. Maybe it’s that we feel more for people who are more […]

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