The English term “prejudice” and its equivalents in many other European languages refer primarily to a prejudgment or a pre-concept reached before the relevant information has been collected or examined and therefore based on in adequate or even imaginary evidence.
A “stereotype” is a generalization about a person or group of persons. We develop stereotypes when we are unable or unwilling to obtain all of the information we would need to make fair judgments about people or situations.
When we judge people and groups based on our prejudices and stereotypes and treat them differently, we are engaging in discrimination. E.g. – discrimination against Jews women, African- American, in India discrimination against lower caste people.
Anthropologists, scientists who study humans and their origins, generally accept that human species can be categorized into races based on physical and genetic makeup. For example, many, but certainly not all African-Americans have physical differences from Caucasians beyond their dark skin, such as wiry hair. Virtually all scientists accept the fact that there is no credible scientific evidence that one race is culturally or psychologically different from any other, or that one race is superior to another.
The concept of equal rights for women is as old as the ancient Greeks. The Greek philosopher Plato advocated for equality between the sexes in his Republic.
5. Minority Persecution and Genocide
A minority group may be victimized by a more powerful majority which is insensitive to the needs and aspirations of that minority. Minority groups may be subjected to dehumanization experiences made to feel powerless by being subjected to degrading and humiliating experiences based on prejudice.
Scapegoating is the practice of blaming an individual or group for a real or perceived failure of others. The origin of the term comes from the Bible. The high priest in Biblical times would place his hand upon a goat’s head and transfer the sins of the community to the goat, which was then released into the desert.
7. Demagogues and Propaganda
Some prejudice has been passed down from generation to generation. Prejudice against Jews, called anti-Semitism, has been known for more than two thousand years. It is usually the case, however, that the passions of hatred against minorities by members of the majority are stirred up by charismatic leaders who exploit latent hatreds for their own political ends. These leaders are called “demagogues,” and they depend upon propaganda and disinformation to achieve their ends. Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position. Propaganda is usually repeated and dispersed over a wide variety of media in order to create the desired result in audience attitudes.