What is discrimination?

We’ve all seen this picture before. However, what we may not have seen is how that is discrimination. We are being classified and categorized, not based on our individual merit or accomplishments, but rather on a race or ethnicity we belong to.

Discrimination occurs all around us, but whether it’s subtle enough that we don’t recognize it or we’re just accustomed to it and thus simply ignore it, we have become a society where discrimination is almost the norm. Although this may seem outlandish in the melting pot that is America, examples of discrimination are frequently seen and felt. For example, I have experienced it firsthand. While in Mississippi, my family and I stopped at a restaurant to eat. The moment the waitress heard us speak Spanish, her facial expressions and attitude drastically changed. She was no longer happy to serve us, but rather annoyed by our presence.

But discrimination doesn’t always occur so explicitly nor does it necessarily occur among different groups. As Anzaldúa demonstrates, she was isolated and discriminated against by her own race due to her sexual orientation. Gould also exemplifies this by showing how X was discriminated against, but interestingly enough not because he was something, but because he wasn’t one thing. Discrimination has, unfortunately, become an omnipresent thought in all our interactions.

The Mortgage Porter. September 14, 2012. http://www.google.com/imgres?q=check+this+box+depending+on+your+race&um=1&hl=en&biw=1366&bih=643&tbm=isch&tbnid=wtwnLLz14Pu4_M:&imgrefurl=http://www.mortgageporter.com/2010/12/your-ethnicity-and-race-on-the-loan-application.html&docid=rknwCoqliu1fCM&imgurl=http://www.mortgageporter.com/images/old/6a00d834522f5769e20133f6172144970b-pi.png&w=1363&h=314&ei=8pFTUKC3Jebp0gG_loB4&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=208&vpy=16&dur=371&hovh=70&hovw=306&tx=204&ty=67&sig=105085421387359417541&page=1&tbnh=43&tbnw=188&start=0&ndsp=18&ved=1t:429,r:7,s:0,i:94

Louis Gould, “X: A Fabulous Child’s Story” (1978)

Gloria Anzaldúa, “La conciensia de la mestiza: Towards a New Consciousness” (1986)

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3 Responses to What is discrimination?

  1. manuelal25 says:

    I completely agree with everything you said. I can relate to your story being that I am also of Hispanic background and have outright experienced discrimination.

    I have seen the image many times and much more frequently when applying to college and jobs. Applying to college I noticed the zealous interest expressed about my ethnicity/ race. Why is it that where I come from will make such an immense impact on my admissions decision? We all probably know it is to meet the racial quota. This quota is meant to end all racial preference in college admission decisions and is owed partly to the “melting pot that is America”. It is also owed to affirmative action. However having this quota is ironic because it discriminates against minorities. By implementing a quota one has now agreed to categorize these groups and judge them each differently based on their ethnicity. The standard is not the same for each race, for example the Latino student may not have to have as high SAT scores as the white student. Latino students are held at their own standards just as African-American, and Asian students are. This attempt at a fair and equal opportunity leads to discrimination in the classroom.

    Like you, a couple months ago I personally experienced discrimination. I was days away from graduating and the class rankings were announced. My best friend (also of Hispanic origin) and I occupied the top spots of the class and were immediately scolded. Our classmates referred to us as the Spanish b**ches who rose to the top. We were immediately discriminated upon because of where we came from and in no moment did they take into account our merits and accomplishments. To my classmates, I had not earned this spot in my class but simply “got lucky”. Coming from a Latino family I feel the constant need to prove myself to others because I am underrepresented.

  2. connormclaren says:

    I agree with you that discrimination exists within minority communities, and I have personally experienced this. For example, in the deaf community, of which I am a member, there is a wide divide between deaf people who do not have cochlear implants (CIs) and those who do. Deaf people without CIs are often fundamentally opposed to them because they believe that there is nothing inherently wrong with being deaf and that they don’t need to be fixed. They often accuse deaf people with CIs of being “hearing-minded” and make a conscious effort to exclude them from their community. These “militant” deaf people feel threatened and think that CIs are quickly placing the deaf community on the brink of extinction. On the other side of the spectrum, deaf people with CIs accuse those who do not wear CIs of being irrational and criticize them for not realizing their full potential in society. This is, literally and figuratively, a “dialogue of the deaf” that does not serve the purpose of the broader deaf community.

    I also agree with you that discrimination often occurs among different minority groups. Many minority groups do not practice what they preach. Since minorities know how it feels to be shunned and treated as pariahs, they should be more empathetic and tolerant of others’ differences; however, this is not always the case. There is economic competition among these groups, which not only prevents them from helping each other but also leads to racial hostility, particularly between African-American and Hispanic-American communities, where members in both compete with each other for getting low-paying jobs. If they were able to work with one another instead of against one another, it would benefit both communities immensely. Another example of discrimination across minority groups is how some African-Americans do not support LGBT rights for religious reasons. How can they expect to be accepted by whites when they themselves are not accepting? They are their own worst enemy and this immediately undermines their fight for equality.

    In conclusion, I believe that minority groups need to reduce discrimination not only towards other minority groups, but also within their own communities if they want to make any kind of progress and be seen as equals. They should strive to set a good example for not only other minority groups, but also for those who are in the majority, and the only way they can do this is to put aside any feelings of animosity they have. Once mutual respect is established, then greater progress toward achieving civil rights – whether it is based on gender, race, or sexual orientation – can be achieved.

  3. katmateo says:

    Discrimination is a present issue in our country. I too am from a Latina background and have had similar experiences.

    Discrimination, based on race, gender, sexual education, handicap, and a wealth of other factors we are judged on are continuously propagated in society. It doesn’t seem outlandish that ‘discrimination is often seen and felt’. On the contrary, I think we are aware of it. In our discussion on Tuesday, Professor Lundeen discussed how uncomfortable people felt when they were not able to place Pat, a Saturday Night Live character, in a gender category. This category was meant to give the people in the skit cues as to how to treat Pat.

    We saw the same situation arise in the story of X. The parents of his peers and the team of specialists were itching to figure out whether X was male or female. This information would provide them information about how to treat him, what toys to give him, and how he was supposed to behave. This societal need to place individuals within categories, such as the categories presented in the loan application you’ve linked to, allow people to form expectations. It is possible that a negative expectation with people from the category of ‘Hispanic’ may have been behind your experience with the waitress in Mississippi. In the same way, society is plagued with negative expectations of people who are not straight, as Andalzúa. A marriage between two same-sex individuals would not succeed, they would not raise a child properly, they are corrupt.

    It would be an oversimplification to reduce discrimination to a societal need to place people within categories. Nonetheless, Professor Lundeen’s comment about our need to do so, leads me to wonder about the effects of this categorization and its tie to discrimination.

    It’s Pat (SNL)

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