Transphobia. Racism. Homophobia. Antisemitism. Xenophobia. Islamophobia. What do most of these have in common? Fear. This fear derives itself from ignorance. If someone doesn’t know a gay person, it’s easy to instinctively fear them, as they are the unknown. What is more difficult is to be open-minded. It’s easy to be a conservative because your parents are. It’s easy to be racist because you’re from a “different time”. It is easy to go with the crowd and and laugh at that Muslim terrorist joke. Would it be easy to play that clip for your Muslim friend? To watch their reaction? But that there is the problem. Many Americans don’t have Muslim friends. In fact, approximately only 38% of Americans know a Muslim. Trump’s approval rating at it’s highest in the past year was around 52%, and it’s not hard to conclude that the “silent majority” comprised little to none of that 38% of Americans who know a Muslim. It’s a lot easier for grandpa to go rambling on about them “Muslim terrorists” when he doesn’t know someone who practices Islam. However, the sad reality is that it’s not just grandpa who feels this way. It’s the vast majority of the Republican party, as well as some Democrats and independents. The challenge to overcoming racism and Islamophobia is that the ignorant who hold these prejudices are not willing to even become friends with these people. This is where the LGBT rights movement has an advantage; your son could come out as gay, and suddenly you have an LGBT person in your life. Your best friend could turn out to be a lesbian, and she doesn’t drive a motorbike. Your teammate likes guys, but he doesn’t stare you down in the locker room. This is how the movement has been able to progress. Although those in rural areas can often be very hateful and ignorant even towards their own loved ones, it is an entirely different situation when someone of a different group has been in your life unknowingly. This simply isn’t possible with other groups. A friend of yours isn’t going to “come out” as black. The hateful would have stayed away from them in the first place. Or, even better, they do become friends with someone who is a minority and they say they’re one of the “good ones”. The premise of this is evil in entirety, and demeaning to those affected. And these people who are spewing hate stay uneducated. I’ve gotten into an argument before surrounding racial equality where I started citing injustices and inequalities towards African-Americans, and the guy I was arguing with said, “maybe I should do some more research into this topic” you think? Attitudes like that can be seen universally when it comes to ideas of hatred. Homophobic people probably haven’t learned that conversion camps don’t work, and refuse to accept the premise that being gay isn’t a mental impairment. Those spewing anti-immigrant rhetoric probably don’t know that immigrants actually fuel economic growth, and are willing to do many jobs that Americans aren’t. Or, yet again, they live in an alternate reality. When people live in environments where facts don’t live, ignorance is prominent, and hate resides, it’s a difficult task to reshape their thinking. And once presented with facts, it’s not easy for them to accept them either, when that contradicts everything they’ve been thought. I don’t know the solution to this problem, and I don’t know someone who does. I suppose that if everyone was educated about the issues in our world, we wouldn’t have as many problems with hate and prejudice. However, I don’t know how to feasibly do this. Perhaps exposure and education could help – reducing segregation in neighborhoods and inequalities in public schooling. A thorough religious schooling as well as an education on the different ethnicities in the world as well as different sexualities. Ditching the white-superioristic tone of our history classes. These are just a few obscure thoughts. However in this insane world we live in, something’s got to give.