What I Now Know About My Own Prejudices

“Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated”. Coretta Scott King said this. Before establishing a wall of hate between another person  it’s important to find a common ground. Donald Trump winning his most recent election did one very important thing for me; it made me hate less. For the other half of the country it was an excuse to blurt out their inner prejudices. The prejudices that came to the forefront during this election didn’t necessarily reflect my personal prejudices.

This may be a good first entry because it will give to reader an insight into who I am and not just my opinions. My prejudices did not fit into the same mold as the average Americans. It’s true, I’m a white woman and racism is a spectrum. I married someone who grew up in a same little place that I did halfway around the world, it’s harder to plead my case. I will also not offend anyone by saying that I do not see color. I know our worlds are an outcome of our upbringings and our views on the world reflect it. However, I have friends and coworkers who are different than me and I acknowledge that the color of my skin has had an impact on my privilege.

Upon self reflection I came to learn that I was no better than people who say “Mexicans are rapists” and “Muslims are terrorists”. For me, it was “all Serbians are killers”. I grew up in Kosovo, and I came to this country as a refugee. Those who know where that is and the context, good for you, I’m impressed. For those of you who don’t know, in 1999 Serbia declared war on it’s ethnic Albanian minority and engaged in ethnic cleansing to ensure that Albanian Kosovars would leave their territory. I also believe that because Albanians were a disenfranchised minority, as a white person, I am more understanding of the American minority struggle.

I’ve met Serbian people in America before and always erred on the side of caution. I had a fear that they hated me and at a given opportunity would act upon that hatred. That’s what I did when I met Milly. Milly was a waitress at my job who self identified to me as Bosnian. We became friends until I later found out that she was Serbian from Bosnia. I then began to distance myself from her greatly. I later learned that her boyfriend was African American and when I learned this I immediately thought differently of her. Milly could not be a stereotypical Serb because she doesn’t discriminate against black people so she therefore would not discriminate me.

Milly and I have had conversations about the war, genocide and the Balkans. I grew to appreciate her and who she is. it took one friendship with a Serbian woman for me to learn that not all hate me. As cheesy as it sounds, if you take the time to learn who a person is the misguided fear eventually goes away.

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