We all fall for it!

There are multiple universal human traits that identify us (or you... I don't self identify as human...) as humans. Most are biological/genetic/morphological identifying traits. One of these is our susceptibility to prejudice.

If you're prejudiced against anyone or anything... Congratulations, you're (probably) human! We all fall for it, and it's for good reasons. There is growing evidence that we're genetically (i.e. programmed from birth) to be prejudiced against spiders and snakes. This makes evolutionary sense, as many spider and snake species are, it turns out, really quite dangerous.

Personally, I like snakes! I've met several very friendly snakes who like nothing more than to curl up on a warm lap. I've also met some friendly spiders... But I'm still not super fond of spiders, even the friendly big fuzzy ones that I know can't and won't hurt me. On the rare occasions I've come across snakes in the wild, I've been wary of them - but never afraid per se. Even thought I knew many of those snakes were potentially very dangerous. In contrast, if I see a harmless spider in my house, I experience some level of a fear reaction (not too much - but I don't love seeing spiders)... Even thought I know that none of these spiders can kill me!

So prejudice is an entirely human thing to do. I could tell you to stop doing it... But you wouldn't... And you probably shouldn't! It's good to have an innate system for recognising potential danger. Rather, it seems better to point out that - as with the spiders above - sometimes our prejudice goes awry.

This tends to be when a person or certain group of people are viewed as being worse than other people or groups. You have some of these prejudices. For example... Imagine individual people who are one of the following... Car salesmen, Christians, Union members, KKK members, Jehovah's Witnesses, Unemployed, Jews, Astronauts, and Aristocrats. If you don't have preconceived negative views of at least one of those people, you're weird.

I can't offer a counterexample as to why the absolute worst of those people may not be all bad - car salesmen really are pretty awful.

But I can give you examples of KKK members who I have a lot of respect for. First, the late Frank Aconda. At the time of his death (he was murdered), Frank was a KKK member. He had been one for a long time. He was also friends with Daryl Davis - an African American musician who goes out of his way to befriend KKK members. Here's a still from "Accidental Courtesy", a film about Davis' work. I am likely violating several copyrights, etc, by using this... But I take risks in life so... Yeah.

Frank Aconda presents Daryl Davis with a KKK 'Certificate of Friendship'.

In Accidental Courtesy, one can see Davis and Aconda sitting next to each other, talking as friends. At one point, Davis says "I consider Frank to be my friend". Aconda immediately replies "I consider Daryl to be my friend as well". He must have meant it too, as he'd gone to the trouble of making a certificate for their friendship! So in spite of his having many views I disagree with, I respect the late Frank Aconda a lot. I'm very sad that he is no longer with us.

Another former KKK member I respect is Roger Kelly; another now-former "Grand Wizard", and one of some forty KKK members who have left the KKK, after having become friends with Davis. They're now good friends; I believe Davis is the Godfather of one of Kelly's grandchildren.

The reason I respect Davis, Aconda and Kelly is that they've overcome prejudice. There are very good reasons for an African American man to be afraid of KKK Grand Wizards! Yet Davis seeks to become their friends. There aren't really any good reasons for KKK members to hate black people... Aside from how they've been indoctrinated into that world and life of hatred. What is impressive about people like Aconda and Kelly is that they're able to overcome some or even all of that prejudice and become friends with a black man. In the case of Kelly and many others, this friendship leads to their reassessing their views (their prejudice), then realising that the KKK no longer represents their views... So they choose to leave the KKK.

Davis sums his approach up beautifully;

How can you hate me when you don't even know me?