When I say ‘discrimination’, some of the words that may commonly strike your minds are ‘racism’, ‘religious biases’, ‘cultural prejudices’, and ‘gender-based discrimination’ among others. While these are concepts that have been famously acknowledged by the masses over the years, it is not all that there is to discrimination. As people part of a complex world, it is important that we not only identify, but also attempt to understand the less prominent ways in which people discriminate among themselves.
Discrimination as a whole refers to the act of making fine distinctions between individuals based on the category to which they belong in terms of appearance, place of origin, or socio-economic status. It is generally used in a negative sense, and usually takes place when a person wants to portray oneself as superior to another. As much as we’d like to believe that people in large groups today speak against it, there still lacks absolute equality. Let us look at the subtler ways in which people showcase their prejudices.
A form of bigotry that impacts school-going adolescent and teenage children the most. Rather often than not, people with peculiar or famous names are teased and portrayed a certain way, irrespective of how they really are as in individual.
Light v/s Dark
We’re not even talking racism here. A much milder and more widely existing form of bias is that of colorism. According to studies conducted a few years ago, it was stated that the Indian population in particular has a condition called as the ‘snow-white syndrome’ wherein majority of the masses are seen obsessing over fair skin. Women especially who have a relatively darker skin tone are often considered less attractive in comparison to women with lighter skin tones.
This kind of discrimination takes place when people draw distinctions based on a person’s age. For instance, men and women who are over 30 years old find it relatively more difficult to secure employment if they are applying as freshers, even if they may be the most able and qualified candidates. Another example is in the case of societal pressure on women to get married before 30, since it is believed that they would be unable to find a suitable spouse post that. This shows that ageism is not just applicable to senior citizens, and may occur whenever discriminations are made on the basis of how old a person is.
Linguism (language based)
The term ‘linguism’ basically refers to discrimination taking place based on a person’s language. India is often called the ‘Museum of Languages’. As much as this aspect of our nation facilitates diversity, it also leads to language based bigotry. Linguism has further repercussions, with it resulting in regionalism, deterioration of feelings for the nation as a whole, and an increase in the regional political parties among others. All of these outcomes collectively lead to disunions in the country.
Discrimination based on human impairment takes place at every level. Many schools refrain from granting admission to differently abled children or students with special needs. Organisations prefer hiring employees who are emotionally and physically able, with many of them even conducting or asking for health reports of selected candidates prior to making their final offer.
How many of us have had people pass remarks at us based on how tall or short we are? Do you happen to know somebody who has been subjected to such remarks, or even passed them at a person? Majority of you will answer one or both of these questions with a ‘yes’. At times, however, people biases pertaining to height goes beyond sounding humorous, thereby resulting in discrimination. One of the most common remarks made against tall women are: “If you grow any taller, you will not find a groom”; or one wherein short people are assumed to be less capable as models walking the ramp. Heightism, much?
Nationality based biases
This is one of the most prominent forms of bigotry there exists. Many Americans consider Indians to be unhygienic, while Indians living abroad on the other hand assume young adults of the UK and the US to be spoilt and relatively uncultured. These are nothing but discriminating thoughts based on one’s nationality or country of origin.
Discrimination based on attractiveness
One may also refer to this as ‘beauty bias’. It is wherein people who are considered ‘pretty’ are treated better by default. As much as we would want to disagree, majority of us fall prey to practising this kind of discrimination, as we have an unconscious liking towards a person’s appearance. For example: A person who loves hair would be likely to refrain from interacting too much with a bald person, but will be extra nice to somebody with lustrous locks.
Prejudices against certain careers
I hear quite a few parents discouraging their children from becoming cabin crew members because they feel, that serving people food is not a ‘classy’ and ‘prestigious’ job. Many people also have prejudices against call-centre jobs saying that people working there only do it because they want to ‘earn quick money’ despite being just a ‘12th pass’. This is nothing but yet another subtle form of discrimination individuals indulge in.
In today’s time, every other person you come across will have experienced weight-based discrimination. Bigotry of this kind is not applicable only to those who are taunted with ‘fat’ or ‘obese’ remarks. Even those who weight light are poked fun at, with statements such as: “Do you want to become skin-on-bones?”, or met with hurtful questions such as “Do you have Anorexia/Have you heard about it?” – and so on and so fourth. This has led to the masses being dissatisfied with their appearance as far as their weight is concerned, which in turn induces low self-esteem and self-confidence in people.
Despite various celebrities and people in large numbers supporting equal rights among all irrespective of their sexual orientation, discrimination based on the same exists even today. Many individuals perceive heterosexuality as the only thing that is ‘normal’ when it comes to a person’s sexual preference. Some even call homosexuality a ‘disease’ or a ‘mental disorder’. This is one of the worst kinds of prejudices, because it disallows a person to be happy about who they are. Every individual has the right to celebrate themselves, and bigotry based on one’s sexuality is one of its biggest barriers.
Bigotry based on social media
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter among others have also become platforms that serve the unfortunate purpose of discrimination. For instance, people who are aggressively omnipresent on all the popular websites are assumed to be more full of life, smarter, and more confident, whereas those who prefer to keep off from the public eye are perceived as being low on self-esteem, or even ‘dumb’ for that matter. The treatment people receive based on their social media presence would thus vary.
Another form of bias is academic discrimination. Students often witness this kind of negative distinction in schools wherein the toppers are treated better, and are the centre of attention, whereas those who score relatively lower marks are not prioritized. It must, however, be brought to the attention of every teacher, parent, and guardian that being academically strong does not guarantee you lifelong successes. A person may be a brilliant student, but may struggle later in life, while an underperforming student may lead a very fulfilling life in the long run.
Biases based on core values
As individuals, we all have our own set of core values and beliefs, based on which we develop opinions, mindsets, and perceptions about things in life. No two people are the same, and so different people have different value systems. As a result, people end up discriminating among themselves based on their personal biases, which further leads to groupism and eroded feelings of unity.
Yet another mild but existing form of discrimination is bigotry based on a person’s past. We all, as humans, have the tendency to judge people by drawing certain conclusions out of events that had previously occurred in their lives. For example: children of cultured parents are assumed to follow traditions. Another example would be children coming from dysfunctional families, or those who have single parent or parents suffering from substance abuse, or some form of addiction – they are often looked down upon, and perceived to be just as careless with no regard for those around them. These are mere assumptions that impact peoples’ behaviours towards such person’s, and have a fair possibility of being partially or completely untrue.
Before turning into an act, discrimination is first and foremost a choice. People can always choose unity over bigotry, and inspire people instead of enfeebling them.
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