Don’t judge without knowing

Based on the lecture by Jenni Helakorpi and group discussion. Group: Tytti Luuri (writer), Jenni Matilainen, Liisa Arponen and Anniina Tan 

 People are often quick to generalize. Certain kinds of people are categorized to be the same – without any reasoning. All engineers are labeled emotionally distant mathematicians, manual workers aren’t interested in politics and middle-aged people don’t understand technology. When the media displays news about a Roma who stole from the grocery store, all Romas are thieves. In these situations, we easily forget that not all 10 000 Romas living in Finland are the same. Similarly, there are tech wizzes in the middle-aged population and engineers can show their feelings. 

Occasionally, one can find themselves reading someone else’s opinion on a group they belong in. It may easily make the reader feel irritated, when a stranger is presenting opinions on you only based on your age or profession. Imagine a situation, where you read from the paper that a group you belong in is dubbed criminal? Additionally, people may be shouting to you on the street, or a guard is always watching you in stores – even if the only reason you are being labeled is belonging to a minority. From an individual’s point of view, the situation is unfair, because one characteristic should not be used to define a person. 

In her lecture, Jenni Helakorpi discussed Romas and their position in Finland and globally. On many occasions, she emphasized the diversity of Romas, which is an important thing to remember concerning all minorities, groups and people. It is natural to generalize people and things in our day-to-day lives. We live amidst a flood of information, which would be impossible to deal with without forming connections and generalizations. The problem is when we don’t notice how these generalizations affect our thinking and attitudes towards other people. 

We are always looking for things to back up our own views from the news, discussion between people and the environment. Therefore, it is important to consider our own beliefs. Why do I believe Romas to be thieves? What is this based on? Is it based on a case from a newspaper, or on something a friend said? It is good to challenge your own prejudices and consider their grounds. More than often, a prejudice is simply a matter of ignorance or generalizing an individual case. If somebody believes something, it is easy to ignore facts that don’t fit in with the belief. This causes prejudices and beliefs to grow stronger with time, because we address the things that back up our opinion and ignore the things that don’t. 

Maybe the most important thing that came up during our own conversation was that we should be open-minded about people! We should leave categorization behind and give everyone a change. When we have prejudices against other people, it is good to reflect how you would feel being belittled before even having the chance to do anything. 

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