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Prejudice vs discrimination

Prejudice and discrimination are two distinct concepts. Prejudice refers to negative attitudes towards a group, not based on facts. Discrimination, on the other hand, involves harmful actions against minorities, acting on prejudice. Examples from history, like World War II and Apartheid, illustrate these concepts. Created by James Howick.

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Video transcript

- What is prejudice? Prejudice is simply attitudes that prejudge a group, and they're usually negative, and they're not based on any sort of facts. So prejudiced individuals, they usually lump together people with certain characteristics and they just put them into one big undifferentiated group assuming that everybody's the same, and they never even consider the individual's talents or differences. A really good example that came up in my sociology class was that there is a sexist CEO, and he just doesn't think that women are capable of running an executive team. That's his attitude, that's just how he feels. So now let's take a quick look at discrimination. Discrimination is differential treatment and harmful actions against minorities. So the big differentiation here is actions. Action is being taken, so you sort of act on your prejudice. I like to think of it as you're going a step further. So going back to our previous example with the sexist CEO, we already know that he doesn't like women, but say there's a women who is very capable. She's been with the company for 10+ years. She's extremely deserving of the promotion and the raise, but if the CEO decides not to promote her and give her the job, and instead he gives it to his buddy just because she's a woman, that's discrimination. That's the big differentiation here. And a lot of times, I find the best way to learn about these concepts is through history, so we'll take a look at this situation right here. In this image right here, we have two women of Jewish descent during World War II. And in World War II, in Germany and in German-controlled lands, people of Jewish descent were required to wear these yellow stars right here. So we now know from our understanding that hey, this isn't just prejudice, this is discrimination because they're being required to do this and there is an action being taken against them. Another event from history that really helps us understand these concepts is Apartheid, and Apartheid is the system of extreme racial segregation in South Africa that took place from 1948 to 1994. This sign was put up during that period enforcing Apartheid, and it says, "For use by white persons only." So there's definitely prejudice here because there's a negative attitude toward minorties, anyone who's not white, but there's also discrimination because there's action being taken against those minorities. So just to review, now we know that prejudice is just a negative attitude which is not based on any facts, and that discrimination is acting on that negative attitude.