Descrimination and labelling

Unfortunately discrimination extends far beyond that of race. Here in Australia, you can be discriminated against for living in a particular areas well. Descriptions in the newspapers of a certain crime happening in a certain area, say Mt Druitt for instance, leads to discrimination against that whole area. People from other areas look down upon them as second class citizens. Do you recall a case when a major Sydney newspaper published the photo of the year 12 class of a “Mt Druitt High school”? The paper published disparaging remarks about the school and this year in particular. It caused such an uproar because the community believed that all kids in the region would be discriminated against as a result. This led to a change in name for all high schools in the region to Chifley College. The schools were differentiated only by their campus name.
Papers have been told not to be racially descriptive in reporting suspects of crime. They can no longer say, for example, that the man was of Chinese appearance, only that he is Asian. But that doesnt help. Instead of discriminating against people of one country now, people are able to descriminate against a whole region.

The problem comes when we label people or put them in a box. It can be a racial box, a size box, a region box, or even a star sign box. Its something all of us do. It is possible for me to be discriminated against because people label me as

1. Fat

2. Australian

3. White

4. Gay

5. Male

6. Aries

I admit, I am all of these things, but they don’t define me as a person.These things do not control who I am. Labels and boxes carry behavioral expectations. For instance, the stereotypical gay male, is a feminine acting man who is flamboyant in dress and manner. There are expectations that he will speak with a lisp or an inflection which will identify him as gay. The truth is, gay men come in all sizes, shapes, voice types and fashion sense. Being gay really doesn’t mean you will know better what two colours match and which clashes. We don’t all know how to put on make up and some are even more comfortable drinking VB beer than a fluffy duck cocktail.

There are Asian guys who don’t eat rice! Not everyone in the Middle East is Muslim.

I would like to promote egalitarianism. Lets treat everyone which the highest amount of dignity that every human deserves. Lets not come in with preconceived ideas of how a person will behave based on race, colour, religion, sexuality etc. Treat each person as an individual. If an individual wrongs you, then it is the individual, not a whole set of people.

I hope I have left you with something to think about.



Filed under literature

5 responses to “Descrimination and labelling

  1. Amen and hallelujah !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I wonder if grouping people and what behaviours we might expect from those people by certain characteristics is just a reflection of the way that our minds work – we see patterns and try to learn from them. I wonder if the secret of avoiding steriotyping and racism is to simply be aware that our brains naturally see patterns and to be aware that the patterns don’t always hold – each person is unique. For example, statistically, a number of autistic people struggle academically, but I have a degree from a good university. If I tell someone I have autism many folk are just really helpful, but occaisionally someone treats me like I’m not quite human.

    • Thanks for this insight Jo. You are right that it is a natural instinct but it is one that is taught. I am reminded by the story of two boys playing in a sandpit. All is well until one of the mothers sees her child playing and shocked she retrieves her child telling the child he is not to play with children of colour. Being mindful is a good way to overcome it. We have to retrain our brains to unlearn unhelpful learnt behaviors. It is an exercise in questioning the values that were instilled in us by society, including our primary care givers, keeping the ones that are helpful and discarding or rejecting the ones that are not.
      Jo, you are one example of a person who is not limited by labels. You may be autistic but look at what you have achieved, and the art you continue to produce. I admire your achievements as a human… not as an autistic person.
      Love your work. Keep it up. Dave

      • Thanks so much for a lovely reply. Your words are really encouraging and helpful. I feel stunned by the example of a woman refusing to let her child play with another child of a different race. I would like to think that this kind of thing is something found only in the past, but, like sexism and prejudice against people with different sexualities, that’s not yet true. It does seem to be changing for the better, but the progress is slow. Thanks again, Jo

  3. Mt Druitt, hey? I have heard that some employers hesitate to put someone on who lives there.

    They may tell them it’s too far to work – then have no worries employing someone who lives in the Blue Mountains.

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