Pictures similar to the one above appear now and again across social media platforms, always asking the question, “What is WRONG with this picture?” Each time it is done, the point made is taken but it’s so subtle that it doesn’t upset us. Because, except for those who are extremely biased, there IS nothing wrong with this picture.
The dictionary defines the word perception as: “the act or faculty of perceiving, or apprehending by means of the senses or of the mind; cognition; understanding.” Cognition is defined as: “the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.”
It immediately brings to mind the realization that racism is not genetic; racism is something that it taught by racists. Those who perceive racism teach others through cognizant thought about racism. Like much of our lives, how and why we perceive, hence believe, anything is taught to us by others. We accept that our parents teach us such things as manners, respect, etc. We respect that teachers teach us the 3 R’s – reading, writing and ‘rithmetic. We accept what we learn in history as being fact because someone long before us, whom was trusted, passed down the information through the generations. We accept our faith – our religious tenants – without proof, as we were taught to believe by others who believed.
But do we need to hold onto those beliefs throughout life? One of the silly questions I ask from time to time is, “Why is a pencil a pencil? Why isn’t it a cow?” I do that to bring up the point that we take for granted what we are taught without question. I mean, who had the authority to make up the names we use to define certain objects?
This brings me to the post below. We are “taught” to read from right to left, from top to bottom. And it works for us. But what if we changed our belief about how we should read?
There is no better example of why it may be right to question how our perception can change something. No, I’m not saying that we should read differently than we have been taught. I’m simply saying that we have the right to question certain perceptions. We may be taught to be racist, but if that teaching is not akin to our own morals and values, we have the right to “unlearn” it.
We may be defined often enough as ‘fat’, ‘lazy’, ‘worthless’, etc. that we learn to believe that. But what is learned can be unlearned, simply by changing our perceptions. And that has to start inside of ourselves. We are responsible to accept – or change – our perceptions about anything. And we don’t need anyone else to agree with us.
I encourage each of you to spend some time thinking about how you perceive things – in yourself and in others – and question if those perceptions work for you. If so, that’s great! If not, you need to spend some time in self-talk and change them. It’s your right!