This might seem obvious, but generalisations (“all A are B”) based on gender are not helpful, as we end up attaching properties to gender that are not gender specific at all. There is beauty and appreciation to be had in our physical differences and the effects they come with, but we are much, much more similar than we are different. The confirmation bias, however, reigns supreme, and we divide ourselves to our own detriment.

Like a dog that doesn’t recognize its owner with a hat on, it is even more painful when it comes to differences more cosmetic. We fail to see the same humanity in everyone that does not look exactly like us, and our minds in their arrogance concoct a million theories to excuse the lizard part of it that is the true author of these generalisations. The pack survival instinct dictates that everything “not us”, spells danger but, depending on the diversity of the environment, the range of this “not us” varies wildly. It can be as nuanced as the shape of the nose, or the size of the ears, and from there it goes to the color of hair, and from there to the most accessible heuristic there is—the color of skin.

The lizard brain drives the wedge, and the arrogant monkey brain produces excuses on demand, for it has to cover for the lizard. We are, after all, cultured beings! To be different is enough to get ousted in the kindergarten. How much more damage can a fully developed mind, if not a very introspective one, do?

So try facing the lizard part of your brain: think of a group of people you hold in contempt and that has a clear, uniting, trait (physical appearance, the way of dressing, or the beliefs they hold) and consider the merits of your contempt critically.

You’ll know you have won once you see that it is not so simple, that the group is not homogeneous, that there are exceptions, that We do not understand Them, and that We do not understand, because We do not know. That our contempt in part comes from our own natural and necessary laziness (there is only so much time in the day), and that only a fraction of this otherness could warrant our scorn, the traits of that fraction having nothing to do with what our lizard brain decided to pick as the tell-tale.

You’ll have won once you recognize your fear from the other, and see that it does not make you stronger. Do this exercise often enough and you’ll find yourself smiling at the fallacies of your very humane brain. This part of your mind is like a kid who has broken a plate and is afraid to come clean—we have to tell it it’s ok, and that we still love it, and that plates do break sometimes. And that it is not a big deal, but that we will not blame others for it.