Charter Oak HS is one level of our societies. How do we rate with prejudice? Photograph by Jaylee Cortes
Charter Oak High School

Does prejudice exist in our society?

Prejudice is a heavy word that has connotations of hurt and judgment. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines prejudice as “a preconceived judgment or opinion.” On the other hand, Google defines prejudice as “harm or injury that results or may result from some action or judgment.”

A society is defined, by Google, as “the aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community.” In a sense, there are countless groups one can categorize as societies. Usually, there are at least three different societies an individual’s life: a neighborhood or community, a country, and the world shared by all.

If an American were asked if prejudice exists in our society, many would show as evidence that the recent hate speech incidents and Charlottesville, Va. riots. Many may even say that President Donald Trump has shown prejudice himself. Throughout his campaign, Trump showed gender and racial biases.

Taking this controversial topic to Twitter, a website of endless opinions and differing worldviews, a poll asked, “Does prejudice exist in your society?”  Sixty responded with the majority, 86 percent, saying yes, leaving only 14 percent to say no.

Despite not being able to view which individuals voted, the majority of such a diverse community decided prejudice is evident in their personal lives and their societies.

Furthermore, with this input received from various age groups and locations, taking this question locally to high school students, the same opinions were received.

Charter Oak junior Jaylee Cortes said, “The first thing you notice about a person is their gender and their appearance where after you make assumptions, in other words, being prejudice.” Cortes addressed the gender bias she sees within society.

But in a different aspect, after being asked if any form of prejudice could be seen as a positive, she states, “It depends on your mindset. If you’re a constantly negative person, it can’t, but if you have a positive mindset, the bias you create may be positive.”

On the other hand, Hayley Milleson, senior, said, “Prejudice is built within our society with a negative outlook, and that attitude cannot be changed.” Even though both these individuals are within the same society, they had differing viewpoints about preconceived notions.

What can society do to bring change in one’s outlook? Taking these standpoints into legal consideration, Garrett Wilcox, Deputy City Attorney of Midvale, Utah, and CO alumni put into perspective: “the government cannot stop speech or, as a matter of fact, even hate speech.” Freedom of speech is a basic right under the Bill of Rights in the United States.

As a result, despite the fact, preconceived opinion is not only evident in your local community but also internationally, do you believe prejudice exists within your society? What do you think you can do to bring awareness or even change?