Can prejudice ever be eliminated?

Interpretation of Keywords

Prejudice: a stereotypical mindset based on bias and distrust towards certain groups of people in society. It can be manifested in different forms, such as racial prejudice, religious hatred, xenophobia(fear or distrust towards foreigners or migrants)  and misogyny (prejudice against women- distrust or dislike towards women).

Eliminated: completely/totally removed, eradicated

Ever: at any point in time – in any circumstances

Can: the feasibility of eliminating prejudice

Difference between prejudice and discrimination: Prejudice leads to discrimination

Arguments for why prejudice can never be eliminated

1st Argument:

Prejudice can never be eliminated because of the deep-rooted/entrenched culture and tradition in many societies that continue to perpetuate(reinforce/deepen) prejudice against certain groups of people.

Examples:

The practice of “honour killing” as a form of punishment in many Middle-Eastern countries such as Afghanistan where women are subject to the brutality of honour killing which penalises women for bringing shame and dishonour to their families.

The controversial murder of a Pakistani model in 2016 as a result of honour killing is a gruesome reminder that many women are subject to brutality, violence and harsh punishment for dressing up and expressing their feminine identity in public.

The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai – Her story also serves as a gruesome reminder of the horror of honour killing imposed on women who do not conform to social norms

Link: These examples above certainly bear testimony to the broader argument that prejudice is so entrenched in local society that it makes it virtually impossible to completely eliminate it/ that it seems like a utopian ideal (unrealistic idea, unattainable idea) to speak of eliminating it from human society.

2nd Argument

In view of the ongoing backlash against migrants and foreigners in many nations, one could argue that the rising sense of xenophobia can never easily be eliminated in today’s world.

Examples:

Brexit Referendum in 2016 – the anti-immigrant sentiments were one of the driving forces for why many British citizens voted “Leave”

The controversial Population White Paper released by the local government of Singapore in 2013 – many Singaporeans protested against the Population White Paper, a policy proposal that projected the increase of the local population to 6.9 million by 2030 (where almost half of the increased population will be made up of foreigners and migrants). Excessive job competitions, overcrowding of public spaces and the dilution of national identity were some of the reasons for the public discontent among many Singaporeans.

These examples clearly illustrate, how when our financial security is at stake,  we as people, tend to develop prejudices towards others who are different than us, in an attempt to preserve our personal well-being.

3rd argument:

In a turbulent world fraught with religious fundamentalism, religious prejudice will continue to have its stronghold in society due to worsening Islamophobia.

The multiple terrorist attacks have heavily tared the image of Muslims in many European countries. To preserve personal safety, stereotyping of and backlash towards Muslims is prevalent.

Not limited to Europe, this global islamophobic phenomenon has affected America as well. Protests against the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero of the collapsed World Trade towers in New York City. The islamophobic zeitgeist of our times is perfectly illustrated by Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban, from predominantly Muslim countries.

Arguments on why prejudice can be eliminated in the future

1st argument:

With the rise of social media and the advent of the Internet in the modern world, the media today have created a powerful platform that gives a voice to the voiceless, helping to empower the marginalised in society.

As a result, society has more platforms to understand and confront the social prejudice faced by these subjugated(oppressed) individuals in society.

Examples:

Lizzie Velasquez, dubbed as the world’s ugliest woman, initiated her online campaigns, through videos posted on TED.com and social media, in a campaign against prejudice and online bullying/online shaming based on one’s physical appearance.

TED.com often features powerful speeches made marginalised members of society, enabling these activists to advocate their social causes and sharing the prejudicial treatments that they have in society because of their identities.

The well-known photo blog “Humans of New York” that features the difference human faces in New York City through photographs —-  providing a rare glimpse into the various human conditions in society – photographs of the poor, of the LGBT community, the Syrian refugees, the homeless are often featured, together with the written stories about their human experiences as marginalised individuals.

Link:

These examples above bear testimony to the broader argument that with the globalisation of social media and the Internet, society now has more means and platforms to understand the experiences of the marginalised. Hence, we are more able to have greater empathy and understanding towards the different types of prejudice, thereby helping to reduce prejudice in the long run.

2nd Argument:

Optimists also argue that modern education plays a pivotal role in driving our social efforts in battling social prejudice of all forms. Given our increasing emphasis on the notions of equality in our education systems today, one must not discount/dismiss the role of education in helping to mitigate/alleviate (reduce/to relieve) prejudice in society.

Examples:

the emphasis on racial harmony in Singapore’s National Education (NE)

Black History Month in the U.S, every February, aims to educate students on the past experiences and events in American racism and the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther King.

Link :

Education essentially enlightens the mind to understand what prejudice is, helping to educate one to avoid stereotyping others and labelling others with a sense of enmity(hatred, animosity, ill-will)

3rd Argument:

In the modern world that celebrates diversity and freedom of expression, it is also heartening that governments, not-for-profit organisations and other international bodies are actively championing policies and initiatives to redress the problem of prejudice in society.

Examples:

United Nations’ HeForShe movement led by appointed UN ambassador Emma Watson to fight gender inequality.

The “Transgender Day of Remembrance” – for the marginalised LGBT community – supported by United Nations – rationale: there has been rampant persecution of many individuals in the LGBT community

Government policies in local society:

Singapore: ethnic housing quota system in local public housing estates – to prevent the clustering of a particular racial group – to prevent the formation of racial enclaves

GRC system in local politics – Group Representation Constituency (GRC) – electoral zone – there is a fair racial representation of minority races in each GRC. – member of parliament –

The 2016 reserved presidential candidacy in Singapore: The current presidential candidacy is reserved for the Malay race, to ensure minority representation in local politics.

Link:

These steps towards eliminating prejudice, give us new hope towards a world with less judgement and equal representation.