Sunday, September 18, 2011

Experiencing Prejudice for the First Time

Although most people know that being prejudiced is wrong, it is still very much in evidence in most of the world. Over the years I have heard stories of Koreans coming back from trips to the States who have expressed their hurt feelings because of the prejudice they experienced there.  Most of them would have known about the discrimination against the American blacks but were not expecting to experiencing it themselves.

In a sermon on the internet, a priest mentioned that before he went to the States to study he was intimidated by foreigners. After he began to study English and was able to interact with Americans, he came to see them in a different light because of their concern for the workers; it was a feeling he did not have.

However, living in the States he began to observe what seemed to be a sense of superiority and excl
usiveness from many of the Americans he encountered. He felt that they considered Koreans just another short-in-stature-non-white Oriental.  Not identifying himself as a priest, he was thought to be just another   foreign Chinese worker.
He experienced this on many occasions, and when he returned to Korea the feeling of admiration toward the white foreigners disappeared and a warm feeling toward the non-white foreign workers increased, as he felt himself  becoming angry at the treatment they were getting from their employers.

He believes the reason for his changed feelings may be because of the prejudice he felt was directed at him while he was in the States when he was thought to be a Chinese worker. He now feels that if a white man and a non-white foreign worker were in trouble, he would help the non-white worker first. He admits to having his own 'prejudice', the kind he believes we all have and should have for those we feel closest to.  This was the main point of his sermon.

Although we hear stories that young Asian students feel discriminated against when trying to get into the better colleges in the States, this may be more jealousy than racially motivated. They are better at their studies and spend more time in preparation, which  opens them up to be  criticized for their lack of social virtues.

Koreans also have their problems discriminating against others. Fortunately, there is probably nothing as helpful in changing  discriminatory attitudes than to be on the receiving end of discrimination oneself.

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