What is the cause of discrimination? Why are we discriminated against? Why do we discriminate ourselves?

At a very basic level I think it is about superiority versus inferiority, have versus have nots, black versus white- whenever there is a comparison and one comes away feeling more advantaged there is discrimination. Take some instances: speaking rudely with the maid or security guard, throwing attitude in a restaurant if the reserved table is not available on time leading to angry voices creating discomfort for other diners.

Of course discrimination is about prejudices. In the power equation it is these prejudices that lead to wielding influence. To suppress and oppress. To inflict physical or emotional hurt. Or simply be insensitive or unthinking. Think of the time when an aunt simply turns up at your doorstep without any prior call to check your convenience? She may be welcomed but the situation causes you to resent her unconsciously. Or think of a wedding reception queue for dinner, when some few willful brash people cut across the queue to fill their own plates. Or in a holy place when an obviously rich family gets a direct entry from the side gate into the sanctum sanctorum while others wait patiently for hours for their turn.

Look at instances from everyday lives – A young talented recruit is made to run around tasks because the boss is stamping with authority. Differences in work load, pay scales are manifestation of the same discrimination. One ‘follow’s a fair skin person more closely as good looks soften up senses, average to ugly looks bring on negative emotions. People often slip into their mother tongues despite being aware of others presence who may not understand the same language – this is done most consciously with an intent to seclude

It’s our bags of bias’s and conditioning since childhood that manifest itself as discrimination. O and not to forget the age old discrimination of man versus woman! Gender bias is the stiffest of them all. Ever seen how wannabe Romeos size up girls on the road or at a railway station? Is that discrimination or wat? Lets not hide behind words as lack of courtesy or upbringing because deep inside it is rooted in discrimination

The reason I started writing this piece is because I heard that a columnist in the Time magazine wrote something inflammatory /discriminatory against Indians (living in NJ) and omg all Indians are up in arms against that American journalist. It makes headlines on prime news hour on tv. Well, ahhemm does his wrong make us feel more superior? More vitriolic? Or do we hide behind his faults to shield our own guilt at being discriminatory ourselves? Under the same guise don’t we inflict more hurt and more biases of our own?

The more diverse world we live in today, the more should be the tolerance, humility and courtesies. The more should be a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood. Ethnicity, age, gender, wealth have since long been used to advantage to oppress. Perhaps the real advantage will be if we could create common platforms, common values and common active advantages that benefit a larger group of communities than individuals. If we practice humane behaviour in our daily existence –if we treat others with the same respect we’d like to receive ourselves we will create awareness for inclusion, commitment, harmony and integration in the true meaning of the word. Practice it, preach it, encourage it- that is the way to un-condition our world and create better opportunities to live fulfilled lives.


melinda said...

Not an easy subject to discuss Mee. Without doubt discrimination exists. And I have a hunch we are probably more discriminatory ourselves compared to many in the west. But that's just a general point of view. Don't these feelings arise because of insecurities. Maybe we as a nation need to become more secure about ourselves first -we do have a lot going for ourselves. So I see no reason why we shld be the way we are today...

pat said...

Good article. People with prejudices usually have them because of certain insecurities and fears even they may not be consciously aware they harbour.

The best way to deal with prejudice I've found is not to react to it. The world is full of terrific people who will rush to your aid anyway. In the end good will always win over evil. Just like the movies.

Kay said...

Read the Joel Stein article. I couldn't get what was funny in his humorous piece. But I do believe that people ought to be able to state their opinion and others ought to be able to disagree with it. Taking the article off the online Time site doesn't make sense. Time should print the other point of view. Of someone who migrated to Eddison and how the journey was to them. Providing a one sided view to something like this is perhaps Time's biggest error. Insecurity is a human reaction and it exists in all of us. We must learn to differentiate between discrimination and disagreement. Or we run the risk of being undemocratic and closed.

gita said...

Discrimination happens when one person or a community is treated badly because they are different! Discrimination hurts bad. Having lived abroad I have seen it and subtly also been at the receiving end. So when Stein writes what he writes and the Indian community screams at the injustice of it- it feels good. We need a collective voice

ashish said...

Mee-thought provoking post. Nice! Heard of a term 'reverse discrimination?" Its nothing but meting out the same treatment the discriminating lot mete out to others. I know I know Gandhiji said otherwise but today's environment needs to be dealt with differently too! Those who inflict discrimination need to be shown the same disrespect and disgrace to make them understand how they are shrouded in hypocrisy and contradictions!

john said...

Timely post Mee. My point of view on this subject is that most of us are in denial-someone else does it!not us!:) and till such time a consiousness is reached on this matter people will try to pass off their views and rascism as sattire or humour! That is the sad truth much like in the case of Stein!

Mike said...

Favoring 'looks' continues to be an acceptable bigotry. Even when looks have nothing to do with professional skills. This differentiation happens at so many varied and multiple levels it can become a despairing thought. But your suggestion of a little tolerance of differences can indeed make our world a better place to live in. God bless you Mee

muse said...

Mee, very tough to be non discriminating fact we even discriminate parts of ourselves , don't we ? love some bits, indifferent to some and hate certain other parts...maybe we can start with ourselves ...whatever we discriminate in us is what we will discriminate in those around us

Mee said...

@Mel- I dnt think discrimination can ever be wiped out, where thr are people - differences will exist, and with that people will engage in discrimination. The balancing act is what we must do and be sensitive to. Without hurting feelings or marring physically.

@Pat -ty. Am an equal believer of good vs evil. Need a larger community to believe in this:)

@Kay - Stein article continues to be available and the thin line between satire and bad emotions was most definitely crossed by him. By all means have an opinion and lke you rightly said voice them too as long as one can mind sensitivities

@Gits- I can empathize with your point certainly. Why just about living abroad, don't we get discriminated in our own country?ont we discriminate ourselves right here?:(

@Ash- Am sorry to disagree. 2 wrongs rarely make a right no?:(

@John-Bravo. Agreed:)

@Mikey- the most primal form of discrimination I'd have to agree

@Muse- you are square on target. My thots on this are we need to be sensitive and only then can we self correct:)