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Prejudice

  • Religious bigotry is a dull fire — hot enough to roast an ox, but with no lambent, luminous flame shooting up from it.

  • Our prejudices, our antipathies, are our natural defenses against what we could not assimilate.

  • That is the way with people ... If they do you wrong, they invent a bad name for you, a good name for their acts and then destroy you in the name of virtue.

  • Passionately prejudiced people always turn out, under scrutiny, to be people who cannot get along on a footing of equality with anyone ...

  • The modification of prejudice takes a long time, and occurs as the result of a thousand things that happen to the prejudiced person — things he sees and hears and reads, people he talks to, and places he visits. Any given reformer must be content to take a small and obscure place in a chain of cumulative pressures.

  • ... prejudice will always exist. So will sickness and disease, but that scarcely seems sufficient reason for telling our medical scientists to put on their hats, close up their laboratories, and give the spirochetes, bacilli and viruses a free hand.

  • A society struggles to fulfill its best instincts, even as an individual does, and generally makes just as hard going of it. The fight against prejudice is an inevitable process. Man has been warring against his own lower nature ever since he found out he had one, and the battle against intolerance is part of the same old struggle between good and evil that has preoccupied us ever since we gave up swinging from trees.

  • Prejudices are the chains forged by ignorance to keep men apart.

  • Men who would persecute others for religious opinions, prove the errors of their own.

    • Countess of Blessington,
    • in R.R. Madden, The Literary Life and Correspondence of the Countess of Blessington, vol. 1 ()
  • We are rather apt to consider an act wrong because it is unpleasant to us.

  • ... the usual attitude of Christians towards Jews is — I hardly know whether to say more impious or more stupid, when viewed in the light of their professed principles. ... They hardly know Christ was a Jew. And I find men, educated, supposing that Christ spoke Greek. To my feeling, this deadness to the history which has prepared half our world for us, this inability to find interest in any form of life that is not clad in the same coat-tails and flounces as our own, lies very close to the worst kind of irreligion.

    • George Eliot,
    • letter to Harriet Beecher Stowe (1876), in J.W. Cross, ed., George Eliot's Life as Related in Her Letters and Journals ()
  • Insecurity breeds treachery: if you are kind to people who hate themselves, they will hate you as well.

  • 'Zis and zat' when uttered by the French is considered charming, but 'dis and dat' as an Africanism is ridiculed as gross and ugly.

    • Alice Childress,
    • "A Candle in a Gale Wind," in Mari Evans, ed., Black Women Writers (1950-1980) ()
  • Laws will not eliminate prejudice from the hearts of human beings. But that is no reason to allow prejudice to continue to be enshrined in our laws to perpetuate injustice through inaction.

  • Prejudices of all kinds have their strongest holds in the minds of the vulgar and the ignorant.

  • Given the ethnic and racial hierarchies of American life, there are those who dish it out and those who have to take it. Some get to dish it out without ever having to take it, some take it from those above and dish it out to those below, and some find themselves in the position of always having to take it. Such a position is, psychologically and emotionally speaking, almost unbearable. Rage and despair accumulate with no place to go.

  • No man can see his own prejudices ...

  • The older he got, the more comfortable his prejudices became and now, like his pipe, they seemed a part of his manner and dress.

  • Creatures of a very particular making, we need to know the cultural blinders that narrow our world view as well as the psychological blinders that narrow our view of our personal experience.

  • ... their prejudices reminded him of sign-posts warning off trespassers who have long since ceased to intrude.

  • To be prejudiced is the privilege of the thinking human being. ... The open mind is the empty mind.

  • What is prejudice? An opinion, which is not based upon reason; a judgment, without having heard the argument; a feeling, without being able to trace from whence it came.

  • Nobody outside of a baby carriage or a judge's chamber believes in an unprejudiced point of view.

  • I was climbing up a mountain-path / With many things to do, / Important business of my own, / And other people's too, / When I ran against a Prejudice / That quite cut off the view.

  • Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education; they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.

  • ... race prejudice is not only a shadow over the colored — it is a shadow over all of us, and the shadow is darkest over those who feel it least and allow its evil effects to go on.

  • The mind that doggedly insists on prejudice often has not intelligence enough to change.

  • ... willingness to explore everything is a sign of strength. The weak ones have prejudices. Prejudices are a protection.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1933, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 1 ()
  • In men this blunder still you find, / All think their little set — mankind.

    • Hannah More,
    • "Florio" (1786), The Works of Hannah More, vol. 1 ()
  • Most people wish to be consoled, confirmed. They want their prejudices reinforced and their structured belief systems validated. After all, it hurts to think, and it's absolute agony to think twice.

  • Strong prejudices in an ill-formed mind are hazardous to government, and when combined with a position of power even more so.

  • One difference between a conviction and a prejudice is that a conviction can be explained without getting angry.

  • Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.

  • 'The whole of this unfortunate business,' said Dr. Lyster, 'has been the result of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.'

  • We are pledged to be blind / By a totality of mind / Which has said: we shall learn what we already believe, / Study what we like, / Behoove what we approve, / Read our own creed ...

  • It is important that early in life you choose companionable prejudices, for the fact is that they are likely to stay with you for a lifetime.

  • Let us confess a truth, humiliating to human pride; — a very small part only of the opinions of the coolest philosopher are the result of fair reasoning; the rest are formed by his education, his temperament, by the age in which he lives, by trains of thought directed to a particular track through some accidental association — in short, by prejudice.

  • ... it is, in truth, the most absurd of all suppositions, that a human being can be educated, or even nourished and brought up, without imbibing numberless prejudices from every thing which passes around him.

  • Truth is too weak to combat prejudice.

  • Every bigot was once a child free of prejudice.

  • ... the scientist we need most may be hidden in a little girl, or in a dark-skinned infant. Prejudice will cost us more than we can replace if we allow the prejudiced among those who make the search.

    • Pearl S. Buck,
    • in Pearl S. Buck and Carlos P. Romulo, Friend to Friend ()
  • Prejudice ... is a subjective emotion which expresses itself upon others only because of an inner necessity for release. The object is irrelevant and opportune. The person who feels prejudice is the victim of himself and his own unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Life is not what he wants it to be and it has not been what he wishes it had been.

    • Pearl S. Buck,
    • in Pearl S. Buck and Carlos P. Romulo, Friend to Friend ()
  • ... prejudice is a manifestation of irrational hostility against certain persons and groups. Obviously there is nothing definitive about the persons and the groups, since in different parts of the world the victims are white Americans, dark Americans, Jews, Gentiles, women, Irish, Catholics, Puerto Ricans — in fact, anybody, anywhere. ... the cause is not to be found primarily in the hate-object. Therefore it must be found in the hate-subject, which is to surmise that the root of prejudice is not really in the person or group against whom discrimination and prejudice are vented but in the person or group expressing such emotion. The aggressor, not the victim, is the guilty party. ... The prejudiced person hates ... because it is necessary for him to hate.

    • Pearl S. Buck,
    • in Pearl S. Buck and Carlos P. Romulo, Friend to Friend ()
  • ... such is the prevalency which custom, ever so wrongly introduced, has over the minds of the Men, that it requires much less difficulty to wean them from sentiments, which they themselves have built on the most convincing evidences of reason and truth, than to draw them from the prejudices which custom has instilled into them.

  • It is the curse of minorities in this power-worshipping world that either from fear or from an uncertain policy of expedience they distrust their own standards and hesitate to give voice to their deeper convictions, submitting supinely to estimates and characterizations of themselves as handed down by a not unprejudiced dominant majority.

  • All prejudices, whether of race, sect or sex, class pride and caste distinctions are the belittling inheritance and badge of snobs and prigs.

  • My mother, with her excellent understanding, knew that prejudice squints when it looks, and lies when it talks.

  • Prejudices are so powerful!

    • Eugénie de Guérin,
    • letter (1839), in Guillaume S. Trébutien, ed., Letters of Eugénie de Guérin ()
  • ... the distinction between 'prejudice' and 'principle' is itself a matter of prejudice.

  • Prejudice is more violent the blinder it is ...

  • But — drive out prejudice with a pitch-fork it will ever return.

  • ... prejudice is a seeping, dark stain, I think, more difficult to fight than hatred — which is powerful and violent and somehow more honest, too.

  • In regard to tenacity of life, no old yellow cat has anything on a prejudice. You may kill it with your own hands, bury it deep, and sit on the grave, and behold! the next day it will walk in at the back door, purring.

  • If prejudices belonged to the vegetable world they would be described under the general heading of: 'Hardy Perennials; will grow in any soil, and bloom without ceasing; require no cultivation; will do better when left alone.'

  • Prejudices are the refuge of those who cannot think for themselves.

  • ... all her prejudices were passions; for taking up her opinions without examination, she prided herself upon ever obstinately adhering to them.

  • ... bigotry is ever the child of ignorance, and the cultivation of the understanding is the only radical cure for it ...

  • Whenever someone speaks with prejudice against a group — Catholics, Jews, Italians, Negroes — someone else usually comes up with a classic line of defense: 'Look at Einstein!' 'Look at Carver!' 'Look at Toscanini!' So, of course, Catholics (or Jews, or Italians, or Negroes) must be all right. They mean well, these defenders. But their approach is wrong. It is even bad. What a minority group wants is not the right to have geniuses among them but the right to have fools and scoundrels without being condemned as a group.

  • ... it is sad, very sad, that once more, for the umpteenth time, the old truth is confirmed: 'What one Christian does is his own responsibility, what one Jew does is thrown back at all Jews.'

  • What generally passes for 'thought' among the majority of mankind is the time one takes out to rearrange one's prejudices.

  • What a child does not know and does not want to know of race and colour and class, he learns soon enough as he grows to see each man flipped inexorably into some predestined groove like a penny or a sovereign in a banker's rack.

  • I deplore any action which denies artistic talent an opportunity to express itself because of prejudice against race origin.

    • Bess Truman,
    • in Robert Underhill, The Truman Persuasions ()
  • We're always going to have prejudices ... I don't think we can change society. You can only change individual by individual. And you can change yourself.

  • ... beware how you contradict prejudices, even knowing them to be such, for the generality of people are much more tenacious of their prejudices than of anything belonging to them ...

  • ... prejudices now grew in his head as strongly as teeth.

  • ... we can't abolish prejudice through laws ...

  • ... prejudices of taste, likings and dislikings, are not always vanquishable by reason ...

  • ... just as a child is born without fear, so is it born without prejudice. Prejudice, like fear, is acquired.

  • Beneath incrusted silences, a seething Etna lies, / The fire of whose furnaces may sleep — but never dies!

  • Prejudice is an assortment of deceptively small personal judgments — deceptive because of their great cost in our daily lives.

    • Jean Stapleton,
    • "Let Someone Else Be the Judge," in The Guideposts Treasury of Hope ()
  • You say that prejudice is cruel! This comes from her being both blind and deaf. She closes her eyes that she may stab you boldly; she knows very well that if once she were to look at you, she could not do it. She stops her ears not to hear your supplications nor your cry of agony .... If, at least, she could leave you some traces of your own self! If, in destroying she would not disfigure you! If you might remain a man amongst men, likeable, warm, cordial; if she did not transform you into a hateful object!

  • [On prejudice:] Sometimes, it's like a hair across your cheek. You can't see it, you can't find it with your fingers, but you keep brushing at it because the feel of it is irritating.

    • Marian Anderson,
    • with Emily Kimbrough, "My Life in a White World," in Ladies' Home Journal ()
  • Prejudices are inherently self-justifying.

  • ... a prejudice is a belief system, not a knowledge system ...