Confronting the Divide

With the results of the presidential election, panic is ringing from various minority communities across the U.S. I have read articles on and heard people talk about what actions to take to protect each other and advocate for one another.

Mr. Ahmed Rehab’s talk at the Desmond Tutu Center’s Biennial Conference this past November on confronting prejudice, hate, and fear mongering provided me with additional clarity on a moment that has been so emotionally charged. It is true that prejudice is innate. We have been hardwired to have it. By speaking about bigotry, Native American genocide, and slavery, Mr. Rehab modeled his message around putting ourselves in uncomfortable spaces and having uncomfortable conversations. Healing can only begin when the pain from prejudice and bigotry is recognized and validated.

On the issue of bigotry, Mr. Rehab spoke about the roles of generalization, misattribution, and reductionism.dtc-ahmed3

Generalization is the act of generalizing important attributes such as behaviors and characteristics to a particular group. In reality, all cultures, races, ethnicities, and other groups consist of individuals that are diverse in beliefs, personality, characteristics, and behavior.

Misattribution occurs when “an act is contextualized.” Misattribution says that a person’s actions are caused by or linked to his or her background. In reality, when someone of a certain background commits a crime, it does not mean that the person’s background is somehow inherently related to his or her actions.

Reductionism is the act of reducing complexity to a simplified and almost “cartoonish representation.” In reality, the world is much more complicated than this.

As I reflect on the need for more uncomfortable conversations, I felt glad to have the language for these conversations. In emotional times such as this, having a productive conversation can be difficult. It is important to have the language and clarity in order to start speaking out when I see prejudice, bigotry, and hate. We have to lean into the discomfort because fear is what divides us. I hope to bring others closer to me in order to begin building those bridges and combat the ways in which bigotry operates.


About the Blogger:

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Mandy Lu is currently a third year in the Doctor of Psychology program at University of Indianapolis. She is originally from China. Her undergraduate experiences at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC first ignited her interest in social justice issues. She aims to grow as an advocate for social justice issues in both her personal and professional lives.

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