“Prejudice” refers to stereotypes that lead to people viewing others as opponents or threats. These adversaries are deemed to be inherently inferior or in an active pursuit of immoral objectives, as thus, must be opposed in an active manner. Such a belief is resultant to a constant level of tension that can easily shoot up to a highly destructive, full-blown confrontation (Conflict Research Consortium, 1998). A concrete example of prejudice is racial prejudice.
An evaluation of history and the present shows that such is still in existence. In America, the Whiteness studies show how one falls into the “white” category, and how “whiteness” is often linked to social status- to the exclusion of others who do not fall into the “white” category (Frankenberg 1993). Not only are those who are not white are perceived to be of low social status. Other negative attributes are also associated with these groups.
In a study done in 2003, characteristics that form part of the cultural stereotypes of blacks, in particular, were found to be the following: that they were athletic, criminal, hostile, low in intelligence, poor, sexually perverse, uneducated and violent (Stangor, 2000). Such racial prejudice is detrimental because these individual beliefs translate to such destructive behavior-even leading to crimes, more specifically, hate crimes. Hate crimes are crimes wherein the motivations are bias based on race, sex, religion or other factors.
In 2005, more than fifty percent of the hate crimes are racially linked. About seventy percent (70%) of the offenders in those hate crimes were whites (U. S. Department of Justice, 2005). Such numbers are very alarming. Hence, there is a need for prejudice reduction to break down these destructive stereotypes. Prejudice reduction techniques subscribe to the finding that the reduction of prejudice and discrimination happens successfully when diverse groups, such as racial groups, interact, have good experiences together, form personal relationships, and participate and engage in discussions together.
Understanding and respecting other is the key. These may be done through the establishment of cooperative communities as well as changing old prejudicial beliefs and instilling values (Dugan 2004). By the employment of these techniques, the adversarial views against different races may be minimized, if not extinguished, and hopefully, the numbers of hate crimes on account of race will also go down as well.