Editor’s Note: This column is part of a continuing series on the nature of bigotry today. Vikki Hankins lives in Orlando, runs her own self-publishing business, and is a contributor to Freeline Media Orlando.

A bigot is a person devoted to his or her own opinions and/or prejudices and does not tolerate a differing opinion; a person that is hostile to those of a different race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, spirituality, gender and sexual orientation. Bigotry even extends to the homeless, and various medical, addictive and behavior disorders.
Needless to say, attributes of bigotry still exists despite the progress of abolishing the prohibition on blacks and women being able to vote. When I walk into a store, there are times when it’s obvious that shoppers are judged according to their race or ethnicity; to see such things saddens my heart, because I am a believer in the concept that “We are all human beings.”
I grew up in a very strict spiritual environment, one where I could not do most of the things other kids my age did; I was ridiculed because of my religious practices and felt like an outcast amongst my school peers, but within my spiritual community I felt very normal. Interestingly enough, my spiritual community was primarily of the black and white race.
There was a time when I would get fighting mad at others who would belittle my previous religious beliefs and would fire back on their religion with ugly remarks. There was one incident when a lady and I literally yelled in outrage at each other about whose religion was the right one … it’s almost unbelievable that I was ever there. That is certainly not the right approach, no matter how strongly one feels about something, and I think it’s ugly to insult others because of the way they chose to live their lives.
Granted, no one wants a neighbor who listens to loud music all night, fights and causes disruptions. But things of this nature can come in any skin tone or class of people. Yes, it may appear to be more prevalent amongst the poor, but poor does not automatically mean loud and obnoxious.
I was speaking with a friend about this, and he told me about the number of times he’s seen white people move out of their neighborhoods whenever they noticed blacks moving in. Though prejudices reek in these types of actions, I also feel there’s a great deal of fear mixed in with this as well. Though I fell into a life of crime, don’t assume that all blacks are drug dealing criminals. There’s no need to run when you see one of us moving in a different neighborhood.
I have another friend that speaks fluent Spanish and frequents the Latino community. She explained to me one time how insulting it is for someone in the Latino community to be called a Mexican when in actuality they may be Columbian. Though the language sounds the same, some Latinos feel they are better than others, though they are all of Spanish descent.
No one on this earth is better than anyone else. I don’t care if you’re rich or poor, black or white; nor does anyone have the right to look down on another. If anything, those that are in positions to do so should reach out and assist the ones who are less fortunate without the judgment and bigotry.
I wish there was a way that people could show more respect to the human race. If there was just one race, one culture or one gender on this planet, it would be a very boring place to live. Being cruel to people who chose a different sexual lifestyle is not the answer, nor is trying to convert people to believe as you believe … it’s called freedom of choice.
One of the reasons I no longer classify myself with a ‘title’ when it comes to religion is because of the great wars and disagreements it causes amongst people who are supposed to be followers of God.
I feel people should be able to openly express how they feel about a matter without hate forming in their minds. Really … is that necessary? I understand how topics that involve one’s strong belief system can be very difficult to discuss with others who do not believe as you do, but I think it takes a great deal of maturity and self control to listen to others on matters of race, nationality, gender, etc. In addition, I do not feel people have to conform to another’s perspective in order to have peace amongst them. If one does not believe in same-sex marriage, state your case and do not hold hate in your heart for those who support same-sex marriage.
My history is not the cleanest, but one thing I have learned through it all is that no one is in a position to look down on the next man or woman. Nor is anyone in a position to judge …
For “Whomever is without sin, cast the first stone.”

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