International schools are a melting pot of languages and cultures that give students a broader view of the world. But is prejudice a normal human condition? Are we programmed to have preconceived judgments towards other groups of people even in a global society? Students from Canadian International School of Beijing explored this complex issue.
What does the word "prejudice" mean to you?
Tony: As soon as I say it, [I think of] the book Pride and Prejudice.
Sherry: I think of the quality of the way people think.
Do you think prejudice exists in China?
Duoen: Yes, of course. I see prejudice between the different social classes.
Ching Ting: A little more than other countries, especially in social classes.
Sherry: I agree that there is prejudice between social classes. China is developing, so it will change people and the way they think.
Tony: I think there is racism. My grandfather’s generation is kind of racist. He says things like women can’t drive.
Do you think prejudice exists in schools?
Ching Ting: A little. I think it’s slightly different because here we have a lot of diversity.
Sherry: Yes, because people are naturally prejudice. But we are in an international school so it’s different than [other schools in]China.
Duoen: Our school is different from China because we’re all relatively in the same social class. It’s more little things, like sexist stuff.
Is prejudice ever justified?
Sherry: It could be depending on the situation.
Tony: I guess. Sometimes, like my grandparents, they don’t know any better.
Duoen: It may be justified to some people.
Ching Ting: It depends on the environment, with different cultures and different backgrounds.
Should there be laws against prejudice?
Tony: You should have laws, because you can’t discriminate against someone because of their race or sex. But I think everyone has the right to their opinions.
Duoen: I think there should be laws, but I don’t think laws really work because prejudice is innate.
Ching Ting: It depends on the country and if people want to follow the laws.
Why do you think prejudice occurs?
Ching Ting: I think it’s from their family.
Sherry: It’s your surroundings and sometimes you may feel defensive about something.
Tony: Probably from parents and adults, because kids copy what adults say.
Should people speak out against prejudice?
Tony: They should speak out and argue with them and try and convince them that what you are saying is correct.
Duoen: I think they should but not too much. Everyone has their own opinions.
Ching Ting: I think they should if it’s very offense to the other person, but everyone has their freedom to speak.
Sherry: I think they should. You can argue with them to an extent.
Do you think you can change people’s prejudice?
Duoen: I don’t think so. Maybe in time, but not right away.
Tony: The younger generation you can teach and it gets better and better,but with the older generation, prejudice is already embedded.
What is the best way to combat prejudice?
Duoen: Ignore it. That’s the only way; you can’t change what the person thinks.
Ching Ting: I think with tolerance. People need to think in another way and think of another point of view.
Sherry: They could learn to look at things from all possible views through education and experience.
Tony: I agree. People need to look at it from different points of view. If you only teach history from the US side, people in the US think that during WWII, the Japanese were so terrible, but actually the US did some terrible things too.
What would the world look like without prejudice?
Ching Ting: I can’t really imagine, but I think they’d have no opinion and they would not be aware of anything around them. So, kind of like robots. They wouldn’t know any differences; they would just live their life.
Sherry: It would all be a shade of gray. Everyone would be the same and they wouldn’t know something is different to the way they are. Everything would be the same.
Tony: I can’t imagine it.
Duoen: I think it would be different but not necessarily better.
Do all people have prejudice?
Duoen: Yes, it’s innate.
Ching Ting: Yes.