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Prejudice And Discrimination: Facing It Head On And Loving Yourself For It
Prejudice and discrimination are two things many of us are exposed to it every day, and the effects can be devastating.
With everything that goes on in the world, and with all the attacks fighting and protests over the past few years, I have learned through discussions and debates with friends, family, and colleagues, that many people do not know the difference between prejudice and discrimination.
What Is The Difference Between Discrimination And Prejudice?
Discrimination is an action that denies the rights of a person because they belong to a certain group. Sex, race, lifestyle and so on.
Prejudice is the feeling about a person, based on a group to which they belong.
An idea or a negative opinion that is not based on facts or experience. For example, having a hatred or intolerance for certain kinds of people. Blacks, whites, Indians, homosexuals, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, etc.
When you hold this prejudice and act upon it, then you are discriminating against the person. See prejudice as the thoughts or beliefs, and discrimination as the actions.
My First Experiences With Prejudice and Discrimination
Now that you are clear with the terms, read on to find out what the causes of prejudice and discrimination are.
I have been subjected to both. The first time when I was about 8 or 9 years old.
No black family lived in our neighborhood. None of the kids who played at the park were black and you could be sure that whenever we went to a supermarket or restaurant, we were the only black family there.
Not to say I had no contact with other children of my race. No. In fact, I had friends from a multitude of nations. I went to a private international school, so I had friends and classmates from each continent. It was great. Our school went all the way from Pre-School to 12th Grade, so we had people from all backgrounds and cultures.
With over a thousand students, we had at least a few students representing each country in the world. It was awesome. It was my world.
After school, the driver would pick us up and take us home. We had a massive garden, so we played there most times. Then I joined after-school activities and started riding the bus home. That’s when everything changed. I was laughed at, teased, and bullied.
My hair was pulled, and I was told I was disgusting. Why? Because I was different.
I could hardly understand why this was happening. All I knew was that is felt bad. It hurt. The confusion of it all made me swallow it and not speak about it openly.
The kids at my school were wonderful, but those outside were not.
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” ― Audre Lorde
Quickly I became more conscious of how different I was. From then on I knew in my heart that I would stand out wherever I went to. And not in a good way.
The more I focused on it, the more I noticed the looks, the stares. The prejudice and judgment.
At the age of 9, I learned what the N-word meant. I had been labelled that term twice by kids who knew nothing about me or my life. I looked in the school library to see if I could find the word in the dictionary. It wasn’t there!
Curiosity was killing me because it felt like it was a bad word, a negative term.
There was no internet or Google to help me out, so I gathered up the courage to ask the man who drove us to school. His answer was “Oh, that’s you. That’s the word they use for black people over here. People used the word in the past to refer to their slaves.” Slaves? Me? I was left speechless.
Went to private school, parents diplomats, we certainly weren’t poor and someone thought the best way to label me would be a slave?
This was very eye-opening to me. I decided to never allow myself to be a target for any sort of bullying. Whoever I came across, that I felt was an underdog, I was going to help. Just like that, this word made a great impact on me and I was changed forever.
Prejudice and Discrimination: Causes And Effects
When are a person is prejudiced, it means they hold a pre-judgments of a social group.
A negative attitude or mindset has been formed against this group without necessarily having interacted with them.
Consequences of everyday prejudice and discrimination can go as far as people being assaulted by judgments based on skin color, social class, gender, religious affiliation, and political views. They are often ridiculed, embarrassed and made to feel unworthy.
'Prejudices are what fools use for reason. ' - VoltaireClick To Tweet
Some are able to stand up in defense of themselves, while unfortunately, other begin to feel unsure of themselves. End up suffering from low self-esteem and are easily intimidated.
I know people who have developed a hatred for themselves having been subjected to prejudice and discrimination for traits they have no control over.
What Are The Causes Of Prejudice and Discrimination?
1. Accepting Judgement As The Norm
The belief that it is acceptable. In towns, cities, business, and institutions people regard certain forms of prejudice and discrimination the norm.
The “it’s just the way things are” mindset and perspective.
When a person is unaware of the prejudice they hold, because it is all they know, they often don’t realize when they say things that reflect their attitudes and hurt others. Ignorance. Some just don’t care.
2. Blaming Others
When people are frustrated with a society, they tend to blame their issues on a group of people.
-Why can’t I find a job? – because all jobs are given to asylum seekers.
-Why am I not the manager in my company? – because only men are offered the job.
-Why doesn’t it snow in summer? – because Eskimos don’t like to share.
The list goes on. From silly to outrageous and not based on facts.
Putting people in a category or in a box. “….because of them.” and “ ….instead of us.”
Other forms or labelling come with stereotypes such as, ‘all women belong in the kitchen’, or ‘all men cheat.’
Our minds naturally navigate toward labelling for one reason or another. Society and the media assist in directing our thoughts towards certain labels. It is up to us to diffuse that and redirect our thoughts.
Can you imagine being judged solely on the way you dress, look, the relationships you choose or the colour of your skin?
You know judging others says more about you than it does about the person you are judging.
“There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.” ― Johann Wolfgang von GoetheClick To Tweet
Redirecting Prejudice and Discrimination
Think outside the box. Allow yourself to embrace the opinions of others, see life from different perspectives. Try not to make assumptions when you lack information.
You know what they say about making assumptions….!
Avoid making generalizations like “all blondes are dumb.” Ask yourself how you can possibly know this. Have you met all blondes, male and female on this planet?
- Every salesman lies to make more money on a sale.
- Women all want to have large families.
- Men are all afraid of commitment.
- Learning to drive isn’t difficult.
- Poor people are lazy.
- Boys don’t enjoy playing with dolls.
- Your family will always be there for you.
- Friends are people who will never let you down.
- Overweight people eat too much.
- The customer is always right.
- Do you still feel bad about things you’ve done in the past?
- Is there someone in your life now you need to forgive?
- Do you seek forgiveness from anyone?
'Prejudice is a learned trait. You're not born prejudiced; you're taught it.' -Charles R. SwindollClick To Tweet
Prejudice and Discrimination Come In Different Forms
These are easy to recognize. When you see it happening. Don’t stand for it.
- Name calling
- Justifying stereotypes
Dealing with Prejudice and Discrimination
If you see it happening to someone, stand up for them, without being rude or aggressive to the perpetrator.
Ask something that draws attention to the prejudice without being confrontational. Learning why they have this mindset may reveal new perspectives to you and the person discriminating.
Remember never to laugh at slurs or prejudice jokes. This leads the person making the joke to beief that theeir behavior is acceptable, which it isn’t.
Are you prejudiced about certain groups of people or know someone who is?
Surround yourself with individuals that are different from you (racially, culturally, gender, sexuality).
I work in an international environment so I do this every day.
When you are open and accepting of yourself, flaws and all, you will be more open to others.
“Never judge others. You both know good and well how unexpected events can change who a person is. Always keep that in mind. You never know what someone else is experiencing within their own life.” ― Colleen Hoover
Change Is Good
Naturally, when you have been subject to prejudice and discrimination, you may feel cautious and wary of letting it happen again. Hate is learned behaviour, not something we are naturally born with.
Acknowledge the unique qualities and abilities you find in others and celebrate your differences. Look for the beauty and not the negative in everyone that comes into your life. There is no need to limit yourself by not socializing with people from different backgrounds. Break those barriers and simplify your life.
Here is a great video from Rob Halford of Judas Priest where he talks about his life, bullying and prejudice. Click here to watch.
Have you been subject to prejudice and discrimination based on your habits, customs, clothes, ways of speaking, religion, skin color or values? Witnessed it?
No matter how minute or outrageous, share your experiences with m in the comment section below.
We should take a leaf out of our children’s books they are oblivious to differences in people and just love everyone. It’s us adults that put emphasis on this kind of thing. Great comprehensive post on a difficult subject.
This blog post is so important! As a lesbian and a fat woman, I have experienced prejudice and discrimination in my life, but I also recognise that I have great privilege too as a white woman from a wealthy family. It’s important to recognise your privileges alongside your prejudices!
Lottie L’Amour xx
Reading posts like this makes me so sad. I can’t believe there is still so much prejudice in the world in this day and age 🙁
thats so terrible! My apologies that you had to deal with such like that growing up – I had no idea! x
Sorry to hear this happened to you but it was such a beautiful post x
Couldn’t agree more. I think this is something we’ve all experienced at least once in our lives x
This is such an eye opening post. It makes me sad to see/hear such things happening, and it’s also horrible to see others turn a blind eye to it x
Sometimes I just despair of the human race. In almost 2018 we really should have moved on by now.
I’m so sorry that this happened to you and it’s awful to hear about how much it’s still happening. A couple of years ago a total stranger came up to me and my husband in the street and then said ‘Oh sorry mate, I was going to beat you up then because I thought you were Kosovan’ 🙁 Horrible to think that people face such terrible predudice without ever having done anything.
I am trying to believe that we are living in a world in which discrimination is on a decline. I felt it myself as well, and not because the way I look but because of my nationality. Even if people know nothing about my life they are still labeling based on nationality and that is so wrong as well. Nationality doesn’t define who I am and it’s not my fault I was born in a country or another…
Great read! Makes so much sense! loving this quote by the way! “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” ― Audre Lorde
I’m on a very mind struggle. But I have learned the tactics to overcome. I thinks this article help me to come back soon in the normal life.
Yes, prejudice and discrimination is everywhere. I would not be aware of it if my son was not half African american. It’s terrible, and its painful. My son has even asked me why is life so much harder for him, he is 28 now, but he had such a hard time overcoming the challenges he is faced with daily being an African american male. What I dislike the most is the average persons inability to see their discriminatory or prejudice actions or the actions of others.
I couldn’t agree more! This is something that we all ahve experienced at least once in our lives. Great post!
Thanks for your article Sheri. I think these situations help us to be stronger and more resilient. And the world is, no doubt, such a better place for having us in it.
Thank you for sharing this side of your story and adding to the conversation, as a diplomat child myself I can relate to a lot of your outlines.
Sadly we are all living this reality but I am hoping our resilience and voices will help the conversation for the generation to come.
I’ve experienced discrimination several times. I don’t believe I’ve experienced full on prejudice. It has probably happened and I just didn’t realize what it was.
Prejudice and discrimination have been around as long as One can remember. While we can’t completely eradicate it by means of our own hand, we can control how we react to it. We can also teach our children how to respond to this subtle form of bullying.
Awesome post! Unfortunately many of us can relate to the issues you have outlined here! I definitely dealt with a lot of bully growing up and discrimination during my more recent years. All in all it has taught me to be much stronger and to love myself! Thanks for sharing!
I had my first encounter around the age of 12. Growing up in the majority African American city of Gary, Indiana…as a kid all I knew were people that looked like me. So much so, it felt as if we were the majority. When my parents decided to send me to Jr high in the suburbs I faced the cold reality of being one of less than 10 students in the entire K-8 school, having a hard time adjusting to the differences between my white peers, and being called a n**** to my face on several occasions.
Prejudice and discrimination is still very much alive. Thank you for being transparent and brining awareness.
Awesome read. Sorry you had to encounter such behavior at a young age. Then again glad you were exposed to know what some others are thinking and feeling.
Such a thoughtful post. There are many lessons here to pass on to children but even some adults need reminders. Thanks so much for sharing!
Discrimination is something we’ve got to fight against daily.
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” ― Audre Lorde, I love that quote!
Great article Great read! I’m so sorry you had to experience such things…Lets fight the good fight!
I’m so sorry you had to experience such things. I wish people would see your post, and realize how much harm they are doing to everyone who gets treated with discrimination.
this is such a great post…. Very much needed in our world today. I’m so thankful I grew up in a very diverse neighborhood where I was raised around many different races…. Todays world is so scary to me!
Living in Dubai I have experienced and witnessed more prejudice and discrimination that I could care to recall. I’ve been turned away from jobs because I am British and they don’t want to have to pay me much, they could hire someone of another ethnicity for much less, I’ve also lost my job because of it. I have seen people be turned away from bars and clubs because of where they are from and I’ve had fights with bouncers for trying to charge my friends and cover charge because they are Arab or Indian when I get in for free. I also get it for being a woman, when I have to call a plumber or an electrician they speak to me like I’m an idiot because I’m a woman and there is no way I could understand what they are doing. It frustrates me to no end and I often with it wasn’t so backwards in so many ways, though some things are slowly starting to shift…
What a beautiful and inspiring post! I got bullied in middle school and I am very thankful that I got the experience to make me stronger and know that I am different from the others. Thank you for spreading the love!
Such an important topic to talk with kids right now. With everything happening in the world we need to make sure we are careful with the words we use. We are a bicultural, biracial family and we always make sure we are inclusive and do not discriminate.
Wow. I am so sorry you were called that. It’s a word that I wish never existed. If you can believe it, I was insulted for being Canadian in my own country by Greek immigrants :/
Kids can be so mean and when we are in that young age we need more love and less bullies. I am white (in a traditional meaning), but I was bullied and laughed at, because I was five shades darker than everyone else in the class. This was in RUssia where people’s skin is very light, so I always stood out while I just wanted to hide and blend in. There I was called a pheasant, because commonly Russian Pheasant (the same idea as slaves here – they were owned by the master) worked outside and were a lot darker.
I hate people doing like this. Our looks and colors may not look the same but I always believe in the equality of life. Stand for what you are. Be strong.
This makes me really angry that people still act like this. Prejudice is such an ugly word that has no room in our house. I am still so shocked that people say those things and purposely hurt people of different races. We are all one race.. the human race and people need to get over themselves.
I remember my first experience with prejudice like it was yesterday. This was great read. Such an important topic, especially now!
When I first came to this country (6 yrs old), I was made fun of a lot by a girl who kept calling me a China. She made fun of me all the time because I couldn’t speak English very well yet. I still remember this because one day she shoved my head in the sink at school full of water.
Over the years, people still called me China even though I’m not at all Chinese. There were many instances when I feel discriminated on but I knew that I could also make that my strength. I think regardless of where you are or how you look, we have to embrace what we have and make the best of it. We are all different and sadly, most people judge from appearance, but sometimes what makes us different and unique is also what makes us all special.
I love this post. I think everyone has beauty in them. I always think that when someone is being mean that they are actually just jealous or not completely happy with something or themselves. That usually makes me feel a lot better
It makes me so angry that this is still a THING. Over the last few years, especially the last year, I have become more aware of my white privilege completely. I am thankful for that knowledge but wish it wasn’t a thing. Thank you for your honest post. We must keep talking about this.
I am truly sorry that those things happened to you. I hope that I am raising my children to not see race or physical differences. I hope they understand that we need to treat all people how we want to be treated ourselves.
I am very sorry that those experiences happened to you as a child. I could definitely not even begin to imagine. Thank you for being so open and honest.
This was such a good read! Sorry to hear about what you had to go through when you were a child. I hope the world becomes a more peaceful and a safer place for every human being living on it!
It’s definitely sad that judgement has become such a norm. And I’m so sorry to hear about what you went through as a child! You have a great understanding now though and I definitely believe that experiences such as that make you stronger and smarter. Two of which you definitely are! 🙂 Raising awareness is one of the best things to do – you’re doing great.
i recently experienced this and never felt that i would. but i got through it by not paying it any attention.
It can be hard to share your story, to open yourself up. But it’s eye-opening to hear people’s stories of injustice and discrimination. Sadly, children continue to learn such hateful behaviors. It sounds like despite the trials starting in childhood. I appreciate that you’ve found ways to stifle the problem so that others don’t endure the same prejudices.
I really enjoyed this post so much and thank you for so much clarifitcation and background. I’m sorry that you had to deal with prejudice and discrimination at such a young age (or at all). The state of our current affairs has me so sad and I hope that this post reaches those that really stand to learn from it.
What a powerful post! I hate racism, discrimination, prejudice and the likes. No one should ever have to go through any of these things, especially at such an early age. Thanks for sharing your experience. I love that Audre Lorde quote!
Everyone is unique and beautiful in their own way. I don’t understand when people go out of their way to be hateful and harmful. That’s just not part of my life, or who I am. I don’t even THINK to do something like that because what’s the point. Everyone is amazing and brings a certain spark to this world. We need everyone! We all have a purpose!
I’m so sorry to hear about your experiences as a child! I love that you are working to change the world with your blog!
What an amazing read it was, yes, still there is a lot of racism and discrimination basis the colour and it was sad that you had seen it at a tender age. We should talk to people/kids in a manner that they come out with their minds and speak up the reasons of such prejudice.
Really a touching a post, it was sad that at the age of 8 & 9 you experienced that discrimination and bullying from children just because of the colour. We need to work on racism so much in the society still now I feel.
The society is known for its discrimination in all sectors. What we must learn to do as individuals is to overcome fear and stand up for our rights and bring about a change. Every individual is different and unique.
Great post.. It is just so sad to think that we live in this world where some people thinks superior over the others.. I just hope that all of us will learn to accept one another and see the beauty of every one..
I can’t believe that this is still happening in the world. It pains me to read about your experience and I can totally relate to it, being a victim of prejudice myself. It was a tough journey, to work to be accepted, to be patient to wait for that day when I would “fit in.” But then I learned to focus on myself and surprisingly, that was it. I was not judged anymore. I reaped success in my career and I was no longer called names.
Oh I agree with you completely. When the feelings of hurt, sadness and pain are turned to feelings of self love things just start to turn around. Of course, prejudice and discrimination is still very present but the way we speak to ourselves from within start to reflect on the outside and do not hurt as much.
this was a good read. I’ve experienced discrimination in person, and over the phone (someone told me they wouldn’t hire me for a job because they didn’t hire black people. i guess my name sounds black even though I am not). I’m still amazed at almost 30 how some people choose to treat others…
Sorry to read about your experience with the ignorant kids. I don’t do labels and won’t allow anyone label me but it can be tricky in the world we live in.
Lovely post that I had to share on my Twitter page. Sorry for what you had to experience such behaviour at such a young age – my niece,7, is in a similar situation and also attended a private school which she had to be taken out of because they would call her tease her hair and call her ugly due to the colour of her skin. Although she has settled in at her new school (also private but out of the area), her bullies’ actions has really dampened her self-esteem and confidence.
My gosh Sam I am so sorry to hear this. It is so horrible to be teased as a child and it changes the person in so many ways. I cannot say I blame the kids completely because they may not have been taught any different. Aside from skin colour and different kind of hair to theirs, teasing and bullying is never ok. A seven year old should never have to face dealing with these kind of issues. It is so hard and a shame that we have to live in a world where we cannot be free to be who we are and feel good about ourselves because someone thinks being different is not okay. We are all unique and should love each other for our uniqueness. How boring this world would be if we all looked and dressed the same. Thank you so much for sharing a part of your life here today. I wish your niece the very best growing up and in life and that her self- esteem and self-love quickly builds back up to hold strong against any form of discrimination. xoxoxo Sheri
Stereotypes and discriminations.. tell me about it! Being a metalhead with a soft spot for chanel who lives in greece, I can totally relate and I feel ya. Enough is enough, we can only worry that much for what others have to say about us. Suck it up people, we are who we are and all we are is what matters 😉
I am so sorry to hear about you experience! I have never really been bullied for being Thai but I remember there was a boy in my school who always said “Tjing tjong” or “Fried rise” everytime he passed by.
Just yesterday my friend posted a Dove’s commercial. A colored woman was pulling of her shirt and then she turn into a white woman…(clean). I am still shock! You shoud look it up.
Hi, I posted that on my page two days ago on Facebook about the Dove commercial. I couldn’t believe a brand of that size could be so inconsiderate. A real shame that this can still happen in this day and age.
I fight against discrimination in my every day work, but I still can’t believe how far we – as a society – have to go in 2017. Thank you for your deep dive.
I felt blessed that I work with an International Company (before) – with multi raced office mates and friends, somewhat I would say that, I’d been judge and discriminate in some ways – it hurts (somehow) but as the time flies, I’ve learned to deal with it. It’s truly not the differences we have but how we respect and accept other individual’s belief, culture and personality.
It frustrates me when people label others or stereotype because of their own insecurities and frustrations. Its 2017 we need to stop being so prejudiced and have some sensitivity towards others. I have lost count of the amount of people that tell me I can’t be British because I look ‘foreign’. So small minded.
I used to teach at Clemson University and I had this discussion with my students every semester. My courses consisted of almost all white students. Many of them had a hard time grasping the terms and some just weren’t open to learning them at all. I’m going to pass this post along to others. It’s a great teaching piece. Thank you so much!
It can be really hard dealing with things like this, unfortunately words really hurt and any kind of prejudice can really affect a person. I quiet short – 4ft11 and throughout my school years on occasion I was single out because of it as well as people saying nasty names – it’s hard but I actually like being petite now
Wow this was great for reading 🙂 i feel descrimination a lot on my work and i know that filing 🙂 You did amazing job .
So eloquently put. It’s so wrong that these issues are prevalent still in this day and age.
Seriously discrimination is worst. Especially if others using it for their own means. But I am sure, their talents and hardwill will shut them up once and for all. Nice write up by the way.
Your school actually sounds like it was amazing and you were lucky to go there. I’m so sorry about the things said and done to you. This is such an important subject and your message needs to be spread. Well done for writing it.
What a fantastic and educational post! I hope it gets shared many, many times. I am a physician with biracial children who went to private school and slowly discovered what you did! But they were accepted as a “good” different person. They were told they were not regular black people. I made sure to remind them that indeed they were and strangers would judge them before meeting them. They needed to silence the haters with their deeds. And boy have they! Thanks for sharing.
Hi Debby! Thank you for your feedback. In my private schools I was always accepted as a good different. Outside of school was more of the problem. People who were ignorant and had no idea about anything outside their little bubble. I am so glad that I was able to see both sides of it. My biracial son is in daycare, those kids all don’t see colour. They see other happy children and embrace their differences. Kindergarten starts in January and I am confident that the experience will be the same for him. I hope many people will share this, as well as learn the differences between prejudice and discrimination. Those words are often tossed out there without grasping the true meaning.
Have a wonderful day and weekend, Sheri xoxox
Nice article there. We should are live without discrimination and our world will be a better place.
It is so sad that we still live in a world with so much hate, discrimination, and prejudice. Thank you for sharing this beautiful piece. It’s easy to judge. I wish that more people would take the higher road and look for the beauty in people.
What a beautiful post. I often deal with what I feel is discrimination at my work. I work in an office with all men, however that’s not the biggest issue. My problem is that they are on completely different sides of the political spectrum and throw it in my face whenever possible. It’s extremely frustrating to not be able to have a voice or have someone to back you up. I usually just keep my mouth shut and my opinions to myself. It is extremely frustrating.
This was a great read. Being black and growing up in the Netherlands, I could say that I haven’t felt discriminated by the dutch people, but how weird is it when I moved back to the Caribbean to the island of my parents (Curacao, which is part of the kingdom of the Netherlands) I felt discriminated by the dutch people living here. They somehow feel the right to feel better than the local people of the island. It’s said, but indeed we should not let that bring us down.
Have a lovely weekend.