Got your attention, right? But here's the deal, it's totally true. I've been thinking a lot about bigotry lately, especially racism, but also sexism and homophobia. In my Political Science class we've been talking about how societal pressure keeps people from accurately self-reporting, i.e. more people say they go to church than really do and more people say they vote than really do. Also, my teacher says, no one responds "yes" to the question "are you a racist?" Also, Jeremy Lin, the basketball player and Harvard grad has brought up the racism discussion because he's a successful (so far) Asian NBA basketball player, which is relatively rare. Then there was that video of the guy interviewing BYU students about Black History Month, which I won't bother linking to. And I'm the only guy in a women's lit class, where the sexism of men is often discussed. And then, the prop 8 discussion keeps coming back and making me question my views on homosexuality.
Each situation has made me question if I am a bigot or not. Of course, I would love to say no, but that just isn't true. Every time I see an Asian male on campus now I want to congratulate him for Jeremy Lin's success, as if he represented the entire Asian community. Even though I've studied a fair amount of feminist literature, I still find myself assigning characteristics, like being overly concerned about appearance or being uninformed about the situation of the world, to one half of the human race that have nothing to do with being a female. And even though I know a lot of black history and have read a decent amount of African-American literature, I still think of it as "Black history" and "African-American Literature" rather than just "history" or "literature." And while I am an ardent supporter of gay rights, seeing two guys kiss still makes me uncomfortable.
What I'm saying is I think most people that consider themselves as "not at all racist" or "not at all bigoted" like I often have, are most likely fooling themselves. There may be some enlightened individuals, like the Dalai Lama (he's probably as close as anyone) who have succeeded in seeing the entire human race as one, but I don't think that is at all common. Some of that is just society. People still separate into distinct communities quite often. I don't blame anyone for seeking community, but as long as people feel that community can only be found in certain groups, separation, be it psychological or physical, between those groups will still occur. I've tried to openly and honestly study the people of the Middle East for four years straight now, and I am still terribly far away from recognizing their culture and beliefs as being as legitimate as my own.
I don't really know, then, if it is realistic to try to be non-racist or non-bigoted. Instead, I feel that for me, at least, it will probably be better to try to recognize my ingrained racism and try to combat it. I'll keep trying to increase my respect for people that I feel are different then me and try to encourage that same respect in others, and ignore people that accuse me or those who think like me of trying to be "politically correct" (although no one has accused me of doing that). It's all about trying to see every other person as equal in inherent worth and value as I do myself. Maybe that is setting my sights too low, but it is certainly, I think, a step in the right direction.