Hurting Others for Being Different

Discrimination. A serious topic that needs to be addressed. It has been the elephant in the room for a long time, but it isn’t something that can just be ignored. Especially since it isn’t something new; it’s been an ingrained part of our society for centuries, and we need to be able to put an end to it once and for all. 

Discrimination can affect virtually anyone, and can happen anywhere. The fact remains that discrimination is just so jarringly there. It impacts people in their daily lives, it tears families apart. It sticks out like a sore thumb in society, but people are still shocked that it happens to this day. A woman getting a lower starting salary than her male counterpart, a gay couple being beaten up due to loving each other, a man getting shot and killed simply due to the color of his skin. Discrimination comes in all shapes and sizes, yet for some people, this word can be almost alien to them, while for others, it is something they have to deal with on a daily basis.

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Being discriminated against can be hard. It can impact the victim both physically and mentally, and the perpetrator will never feel the same way, nor understand the full consequences of their actions. These negative experiences that stem directly from such discrimination can cause severe trauma, depression, and even health problems. Specifically, the person targeted by such acts of discrimination could still feel guilt and shame, over something they have no control over, something that should not even play a factor in their lives, yet it became the critical factor that the perpetrator used to validate their harmful and prejudiced actions. The targeted person’s self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth all decline. And why? Simply because someone was not willing to tolerate others that were not similar to them.

The best way to solve a problem is to start from the root of it all. Once a specific belief is learned, it is very hard to relearn it as one gets older and older. Children are especially vulnerable to this, as they are easily influenced by what their parents say and do. Children as young as five start to notice the differences between themselves and others. These children, who are quite impressionable, mimic their parents’ behavior on how to treat them, and thus a parent needs to be mindful of their own biases. It’s never too early to address any internal challenges or biases you may have, and engage in a meaningful conversation with your child as to how to prevent discrimination. Some legislation has been passed to help abolish discrimination, but a law isn’t going to simply change people’s mindset in a flash. However, education can. Educators need to “model compassion and provide accurate information” during these times. Many resources are out there to teach the uninformed what they need to know in order to be a better functioning member of society. Educating others, and advocating for what is right are small steps, but small changes add up, and this small change will make the giant world a better, safer place.

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