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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.