What is the difference between racism and prejudice? Are they the same? Do you really know? Several recent experiences I've had at my local school have led me to believe there that some kids are confused by both terms. Why?
Let's consider two things that happened in the last few weeks. A 5th grade student recently told a peer, "That's racism, don't say that," when all the other kid did was say he didn't want the poster board they were working on to be black. He wanted green. Another incident involved a kindergartner who sat at the middle grade lunch table by mistake. A much older peer told her to move that 8th graders were prejudice against "babies".
Now both of these situations are not the norm for this school. The student population comes from a diverse background, religions, countries, and cultures. But it made me wonder how many of you actually understand the difference even though the majority of adults think the words are synonymous--and they kind of are. Confused? Maybe this will help.
Racism is simply the belief that the color of a kid's skin or where he/she came from makes him or her less of a person than you. Second, prejudice is having an opinion about someone or something before you even know them.
So basically, if you don't like all Martians just because they came from Mars, you are practicing racism. But if you refused to sit next to a new student just because she has the physical characteristics of a Martian, you are being prejudice.
Finally, don't you think the world would be a more peaceful place if everyone took racism and prejudice out of their vocabulary and out of their minds? I do.