Letter: We are still wary of those not like us
There are two lies that we tell ourselves.
The first is, “I’m not racist.” We are all racist. Much of human judgment and behavior is produced with little conscious thought. Our long evolutionary past has shaped our social nature to be what it is today. It’s in our DNA. In our evolutionary past we learned, as a survival tool, to be wary of the tribe on the other side of the mountain. We live in a different world today, but we are still wary of those who are not like us, not in our tribe, and we are apt to treat them differently.
The second lie is, “I treat everyone the same.” We can’t possibly treat everyone the same. Our primate brain has evolved to pay special attention to those like us and to try and predict what might go on in the minds of those different from us. As a result, we tend to treat everyone differently.
My father never told me to treat everyone the same. What he did tell me was to treat each person as an individual. That is quite a different thing. In other words, don’t stereotype others. Don’t try to imagine what they must be like because of the color of their skin, their social/economic class, etc. That was, and still is, good advice.
We must constantly be aware of what we imagine about others and how we treat them. We may need to correct of how we think and act.
— Roger Hull