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Can Prejudice Be Prevented? – by Melanie Scott, Director of Kids On The Block


With February being Black History Month, something that is hard to forget or even ignore is prejudice.  Growing up in an environment filled with people who looked like me, sounded like me, had the same beliefs I did and even sounded similar to me – I had no idea what the word prejudice meant.  My first experience was when three young, Caucasian boys decided to burn a cross in the front yard of the only African American child in our school.  This horrified and scared me.  It was the first time that I realized that racial hatred was real. 

This experience has had a profound impact on my life.  I truly believe it is a guiding factor for the line of work I am in today.  I realized at that young age that so much of what goes into prejudice is learned behavior. 

Today, my colleagues and I have the privilege of bringing a message of hope and acceptance to young people throughout Middle Tennessee.  Through our Kids on the Block Prejudice Prevention program, we are breaking down some of the fears that lead to these prejudice thoughts and actions.  By reducing the word “prejudice” to its two parts “pre” and “judge” we are able to simplify this concept.  To judge is normal it’s human nature, but when those judgments, especially ones that are painful to someone else, are acted upon then that is wrong.  At the end of each of our presentations, the kids are asked to find someone who looks exactly like them.  Only to realize that they all look different and to see that no one wants to be judged because of something that makes them different.

STARS is deeply committed to creating a culture and work space that centers on the power of relationships, that values diversity of perspective and experience, and that honors the dignity, worth, and contributions of all.