Andrew, you raised a very valid point that we are all unique with infinite, unmatched worth. This observation quickly invalidates the mechanism of clustering for judging people. Thanks!
Hi Ray! I think teachers have key roles to promote respectful communications by treating students equally, establishing teamwork projects and sharing personal stories with emphasis on inclusion and diversity.
Setareh joon, thanks for your comment. As we discussed before, such cultural improvements are significantly slow yet definitely rewarding. We need to patiently invest time and energy to communicate with each other to build a diverse community full of peace and respect.
Thanks for your elaborate comment.! You mentioned a subtle novel point related to the cognitive science of learning. While I am not an expert in this field, I think our brain naturally learns about unknowns by clustering them and extracting their features. I agree with you that this process is not harmful in general, but becomes totally absurd when applied for making prejudgments.
Communication is absolutely the most respectful way to learn from different cultures, identify with people from diverse backgrounds and finally acknowledge them as an individual humankind.
Thanks Rathsara! Many of us from diverse communities have faced this challenge of switching back and forth from the “autopilot” to the “manual” mood. I think it is essential for us to realize such two moods exist, and then learn how to deal with them properly.
Hi Sara, that is a very good point! The most feasible solution to avoid such prejudgments is to talk to people, listen to their stories and try to identify with them prior to any implicit/explicit judgments.
I hope so! As Deborah has mentioned in her comment, talking to people with different backgrounds about their cultures, challenges and lifestyles makes it possible for us to identify with them more easily.
That is a very smart point! Once we start communicating with people with different backgrounds, we will see how similar we are as opposed to the biased picture made by our ”hidden brain” which tends to be discriminating.
I am a 29-year-old woman from Iran. As far as I remember, I have witnessed several evidences of “difference seeking” which I want to share with you, as well as my current believes about how to deal with this universal phenomenon, specifically its reflection in educational environments.
Back to Iran, there are barely international communities who live there for long time. While significant number of tourists visit Iranian heritage sites yearly, not many choose to stay as immigrants, particularly in the past 40 years. Well, this may bring about a picture of a quite uniform country with quite similar people of the same nation, skin color, culture and history. This is not really the case, though; in facts, driving from north to south and east to west, one meet totally different individuals. Due to modern urbanism, many people have been moving to big cities, such as Tehran the capital city of Iran, where suddenly they find new accents, lifestyles and looks. And then the “difference seeking” engine starts generating prejudgments: Turks are this, Kurds are that, Balochs are this, Arabs are that, blah blah blah.
During the past four years of my life in the US, I have experienced another level of living in a multicultural country. The appearance differences are substantially significant, so that not only all Iranians are grouped in one cluster, but also many times people of our neighboring countries are added to our group, and we make a larger cluster called Middle Easterners! And, again, the same story repeats: Whites are this, Blacks are that, Asians are this, Browns are that, blah blah blah. This time, just the prejudgments are applied to larger groups of people with remarkable visual differences, but the essence of such statements are the same:
- We have a backpack of features specific to each cluster. Simply, whenever we meet a person who looks like a member of that cluster, without having a enough knowledge about his/her background, we assign those feature to that person.
- We feel excited to share our backpacks with fellow citizens, and make it updated!
- After a while, we become even more expert and make small bags in our backpacks, e.g. eastern and western Europeans bags inside the Europeans bag.
Academic environments are of the most diverse places where local/international scholars get together. It is definitely very crucial to train students, faculties and staff of such environments to learn more about (1) the “hidden brain” which implicitly generates the above prejudgments, (2) techniques to terminate/dilute these thoughts, (3) polite yet frank dialogues to deal with discriminating conversations. What if we consider the whole community as one organ whose members endeavor to LEARN, and all speak in one language called SCIENCE? Is not it a more respectful, inclusive and effectual alternative?