I’m yet to meet someone who openly admits to discriminate against a person or a specific group of people. As our culture evolved, less and less groups may be discriminated against and a new expression was born: “Politically correct.”
Politically correct, doesn’t mean discrimination disappeared overnight or slowly. Perhaps, it only means it is “whispered about,” instead of “screamed out loud!”
In a country like ours, also known as “the melting pot,” the concept of discrimination should logically not even exit. Unless one is Native American, we, or our ancestors, came here from elsewhere, for some reason, at one time or another. Yet, more than ever, the topic of discrimination is passionately debated, to admit the least.
As a first generation immigrant, I often wondered what’s “the big deal?” I am still debating in my own mind, and decided to write about it in hopes by the time I am finished writing this post, “clarity,” or at least more understanding of the true roots of this serious issue, would become more obvious.
Who are those discriminated against?
Legally, in our culture we make a written statement on all documents that there is NO discrimination based on age, race, sexual preference, sex, disability, etc.
However, daily we hear news and watch images of violence directed against certain groups just because they don’t conform to certain norms of acceptable. Often, we know or hear about people who were not hired because of their age or a disability, or were fired just as they were about to reach the age to qualify for certain benefits or retirement.
If life were as generous with you, as it were with me, you might even have known a person who was secretly going through the process of changing their gender. People who presented themselves as men for their 9 AM- 5 PM jobs and transformed themselves in ladies to go out of the house after dark for fear the neighbors would discover their secret.
Recently, I watched “The Imitation Game,” a historical thriller starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the role of Alan Turing, the cryptananalyst whose work, and his team’s, during World War II saved the lives of approximately 14 million people. Alan Turing was gay when in England to be gay was still considered a crime. He was given the choice to either go to prison or subject himself to hormonal therapy. He chose the latter and after a year completed suicide…His work saved the lives of millions, but no one saved his!
Volumes could be written about racial discrimination, disability, gender, but I am not aware of much having been discussed about discrimination against a white, educated woman who legally immigrated from Europe to the United States. No one, to the best of my knowledge even thinks of such a possibility! One might be tempted to think such a person is privileged.
I might have never thought discrimination against such a person existed but I am one of these people and my experiences of a life-time are factual.
I remember, when I was successful at my first job, which involved public speaking, and although bilingual, I have an accent, my boss’ remark was:
“When I hired you and your accent, I gambled! I thought, if the audience likes ‘IT” (my accent and me!!!) that’s great! If not, I’ll fire her!”
When a few years later I told him I was expecting a baby, he said:
” Well, that teaches me a lesson, never to hire women of child-bearing age!”
One might consider these comments insignificant, perhaps I was too sensitive, and may be compared to the horrific way other groups and people are discriminated against, what has happened to me throughout my life, pales. Not so with the event which triggered my intense thoughts about discrimination. Here is the story:
My neighbor rushed me in the E.R. of a major hospital. The first reaction of a medical professional working in the triage where I was rushed was to tell my neighbor,
“May be she speaks like this because she is not from here.”
He assured this medical professional I did know English and that was not the way I spoke when I didn’t have a stroke!
The neurologist arrived in time and the miracle drug hPA was given to me. A drug which completely reversed my symptoms ONLY BECAUSE IT WAS GIVEN within an hour from the start of the stroke’s symptoms!
In other words, if my friend was not there to speak up for me, I could have been misdiagnosed and in the best case scenario died, in the worst, become a vegetable, in a nursing home, for the rest of my life!
Has anyone thought that an European, educated woman, could have lost her life because she had an accent and someone, in the triage of an ER was BLINDED by their habit to discriminate to such a degree that the symptoms of a stroke could have been missed?
As I hoped,, I gained some clarity on this topic:
I conclude that in truth, discrimination is not about the people or the groups discriminated against, but about those who have so little education, such huge egos and narrowness of minds to not understand that the world doesn’t start and end with them and their values.
As the story illustrated, anyone could be discriminated against! It could be anyone, anywhere! Be proud of who you are and live your lives with purpose and in peace!