OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) — Studies show, prejudice is typically a learned behavior and usually stems from a lack of education on certain topics like history and cultural studies.
Dr. Howard Kurtz, a criminologist and sociologist at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, explains why non-violent, prejudicial acts, are becoming more common more than fifty years after the height of the civil rights movement.
"Those things are not acceptable. They're never acceptable," Kurtz said, adding that verbal or emotional acts against a certain group, is mostly legal.
"Here's the thing: There's discrimination, and there’s prejudice. And there's nothing illegal about being prejudice. You can dislike a group. You can dislike anything."
When that prejudice turns into discrimination or violence, it becomes a legal matter.
Kurtz said with issues like what's happened on OU's campus this week, the problem typically starts with a general lack of knowledge on things like cultural studies and education.
"We don't want to live in a world where you're not allowed to have an opinion, but not everyone's opinion is based on fact."
Kurtz explained the origins of blackface and why some might not understand why it's so hurtful.
According to The Smithsonian, beginning in the 1800's, white performers would paint themselves black or brown with burnt cork or shoe polish, and mimic black slaves. Later, it became a way to keep black performers off stage.
"You should think about it before you do it,” Kurtz said, “and you should realize how offensive it is, you know."