Reading and writing practice - How to fight against prejudice (intermediate students)


1. Read the quote below from Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General from 1997 to 2006. Then discuss the following questions with a classmate. 

"Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. Our mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity. Racism can, will, and must be defeated." 

Kofi Annan

a) Do you agree with his definitions of ignorance and prejudice? 

b) Do you know anyone who has been a victim of prejudice? If so, how did that person feel? And how did you feel about it? 

c) What can you do to change the behavior of someone who has any prejudice against anyone or any group? 

2. Read the text below to learn more about prejudice. Then answer the following questions.

How to Fight Against Prejudice 

Prejudice can be found at any time and in any society. People have prejudice about another race, religion, nation and even about people who look different from them. It is known that prejudice appears when there is a lack of knowledge. That's because not enough knowledge leads to a generalization, which is the root of every prejudice. Once people establish their general judgment about one particular group of people, they tend to keep their beliefs alive by ignoring facts that might spoil their judgment. They don't want to learn, because learning is generally hard and, what is more dangerous, it might also destroy their beliefs. People with prejudice never compare one individual to another, but one whole group to another group. But, what if there is nothing to compare? 
Imagine yourself in a foreign country, far enough to present big cultural differences between you and inhabitants of that country. What would happen with any prejudice you might have? Could it still exist? If there is nothing to compare, your prejudice will simply disappear because it will become invalid. 
Next time, when you find yourself in a situation in which you have to fíght against prejudice, try to imagine people of that group isolated from the others. That way you can successfully fight against any prejudice. 

Available at: 
http://ocw.usu.edu/English/introduction-to-writing-academic-prose/how-to-fight-against-prejudice.html

a) Is prejudice a recent issue? 

b) What kinds of prejudice are mentioned in the text? What other kinds of prejudice do you know about? 

c) According to the text, what is the root of every prejudice? Do you agree with it? 

d) Should we generalize and stereotype people? Why (not)? 

e) What advice is given in the last paragraph? Do you think it's good advice? 

ANSWER KEYS

1. Personal answers.

2.
a) No, it can be found at any time.

b) Possible answers: The text mentions prejudice about another race, religion, nation and about people who look different from you. But there is also prejudice related to gender, age, disease, disability, sexual orientation, social class, appearance, etc.  

c) The root of prejudice is the lack of knowledge about a certain person or group, which leads to generalization. Personal answer.

d) No, we shouldn't. Personal answer.

e) Don't compare groups of people to other groups, but imagine people of that group isolated from the others. Personal answer.

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