It is important I did not start with the question ‘what is prejudice?’ It would be like asking ‘what is glare?’ of a blind person. Inevitably the conversation would revert to ‘how does glare happen?’ So let’s start at the beginning.
Prejudice is a process, not a state. It’s a slight of hand. A trick. More specifically prejudice is a projection. It starts as people from one culture are exposed to psychopaths from another.
The exposure may or may not be direct. Non-psychopaths or empaths can be trapped for a lifetime by their own conscience. These are called proto-psychopaths. In this situation the trapped conscience demands only obedience to a puppeteer of it’s owner. This is important because many generations of proto-psychopaths can perpetuate long since stale prejudices.
Psychopaths love to bring up, point out, and otherwise insight prejudice. It presents opportunities to take control of the minds of proto-psychopaths and the naive to human potential for evil. Derisive thinking is inherently emotional thinking, and strong emotional reactions drown out the conscience’s signals of risk.
Think of is this way. A conscionable nudge, or a gut feeling about the nearby proximity of a psychopath, will be imperceptible in a crowded subway car of emotions about past psychopaths. So by reacting to another societies evil of the past, you deny your own ability to navigate both your own present and your future. All this time later the psychopath, who neither you or the persons who trained your prejudices may have ever met, is still manipulating you.
The only way to restore your risk manager, or your conscience, is to forgive them. Don’t forget, that’s foolhardy. Accept those psychopaths for what they are, a sporadically born, genetically bound, subset of human behavior. A group of people who can not cooperate, but only compete. Also forgive the obedient proto-psychopath, who may not have not the social means or the EQ to break free from the emotional noise of prejudice on their own.
If you really do forgive them, if you accept their limitations, you have been freed. Not just in some relativistic artsy or spiritual kind of way, but in a plain practical way. Forgiveness is a weapon. The distracting noise is gone. You can now see the people in your society and in others society for what they really are. You can diffuse and even obliterate emotional attacks meant to silence and darken your heart. You can trace hate to it’s source, and NOW you can really end the cycle.
What is prejudice? It’s a failure to forgive.