Archive for the bigotry and discrimination Category

Don’t cry wolf unless you mean it!

Posted in bigotry and discrimination on March 14, 2011 by Olivia A. Harris

The sick, twisted fact about discrimination is how discretely and easily it can be executed. 

Few people can claim to never in their life have experienced being judged unfavourably or treated unfairly because of a personal characteristic over which they have no control.  It could be bias due to their race, religion, gendre, ethnicity … the list is infinite.  As a result, few can honestly say they have not had a moment when they actually wished they were different to who they were.   Different if only for a moment so they can simply be. 

I’m sure many of you can relate to want I mean by just ‘be’:  perhaps you’re the only man working in female dominated office and you’re tired of only having your opinion solicited for the ‘man’s point of view’.  Or perhaps you’re a member of the Jewish faith, and you’re only invited to join in political discussions about the Middle East question. 

In either scenario you probably can’t help wonder why you weren’t invited to join other generic discussions.  For instance, why weren’t you included in the discussion about new immigration policies?   Why are you only included in those discussions that are thought to be relevant  to you based on someone else’s narrow understanding of who you are?  Afterall, I’m sure they know you have a specialist degree in Political Science from a prominent university … don’t they?

Oddly, those perpetuating bias and biogtry do not seem to have the ‘yuck’ feeling it causes the person on the receiving end.   You know the feeling I’m talking about:  the feelings of slight confusion, embarrassment and anger mixed together.   And the final feeling: shame. 

Shame comes from the wish (if even for a brief of moment) that you were something other than what and who you are.  The wish that comes after being called the n-word that you were white.   Or when you’re called ‘sweetie’ in a meeting (although you’re obviously a grown woman) that you were a man instead.   Let me be very clear: this wish does not come from a thoughts of self-hatred deep in your subconscious.   The wish is based on the desire for equality.  An equality that comes form being judged on the same basis as the majority of those around you. 

And this wish is always a silent one.  It isn’t a something you would want to share.  There is more than likely a greater desire that the situation that ignited your feelings of  being somehow ‘less than’  had never occured to begin with.   But it has.  Now you must deal with it.

While tending to your own injuries, you might come across an individual claiming to be similarly wounded.    Naturally you will probably be inclined to offer your sympathies.  But, too often your feelings of sympathy can turn to rage when with a little digging you learn the supposed injury is a lie.  The person you are comforting has in fact made the proverbial cry of wolf for his or her own selffish reasons.    They cry wolf to avoid taking responsibilty for their  own failings or perhaps out of spite (what more serious charge can be levied against a person or situation you don’t like).  No matter the reason they know the cry is false.

And like the boy who cried wolf, one day the wolf will come — as we will all experience some form of discrimination in our lifetime — and they better be prepared.