The worst of intentions
My baseline defense has always been my intellect. I could use it as a weapon and was ready to dismiss those who readily disparaged others as unworthy simpletons. But the formula is not so facile and, as my lived experience opened my eyes, I began to realize that many people are hurting from their own less than stellar childhoods. I began to see that could slowly lower my weapons and need not always be ready to strike before I was belittled.
We all have coping mechanisms for dealing with the world and we need to give people a chance. Sometimes there is the openness to be educated and we can work on their fear based prejudice.By now, I have become better at recognizing the difference between being misinformed and willful ignorance (which is what will draw my ire) and rather than thinking that prejudice will be a default position, I now observe and let the person tip their hand. It is how I found out that, more often than not, people do not have the worst of intentions.