Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Discrimination and Bias

Loyola recently hosted a talk titled “There Is More To Me Than You See.” This talk was meant to address issues of injustice and discrimination that have been occurring on Loyola’s campus. Each speaker addressed a specific instance of discrimination they had faced—whether it was because of their sexual preferences, race, ethnic background, or religion. I believe this talk was a very powerful way to address such an important, and serious, topic that needs to be discussed not only at Loyola, but also in a broader sense, across the country.

Intolerance for other is a huge issue that our society faces. We see it everyday on the television and Internet—for example, just recently a college student committed suicide because he was taped having a sexual interaction with a person of the same gender. This is a very sensitive subject that sometimes is not addressed and rather, it’s pushed under the rug. My thought is that if people can ignore the issue they will because then it almost seems as if it doesn’t exist.

During the talks, I asked myself if I had ever committed an act of discrimination against someone else. The answer to that question was quite simple, and obvious from a previous blog posting, that yes, I have discriminated against people. When I took a city bus downtown for a previous event, I was observing the people. I made certain judgments about people’s lifestyles and backgrounds that may not have been correct. Did I know if any of my thoughts were true? I absolutely did not. I didn’t know anything about those people, but yet I was still able to think about them and draw some possible conclusions that really had no foundation. On the other end, have I committed acts of discrimination at Loyola that could directly relate to what the speakers had encountered? I’d like to think that I haven’t. I think that I am very open and accepting. I don’t care what color your skin is, or what religion you practice, if you like someone of the same sex, if you’re from another county, and so on. It’s something that really doesn’t bother me—because I think were all one group, made up of many different types of individuals.

So how does this fit into the readings that we have examined so far this semester? In a lot of the literature, issues of discrimination and bias have been touched upon. Most clearly, in Whale Rider, Kahu is discriminated against by Koro simply because she is a girl. She is not afforded the same rights the boys are, which she so desperately wants. In “Common Ground” a different approach is taken. The speaker tells us that “Blood tells the story of your life” and how important your roots are. Almost to take a stance and say that we’re all different because of this but it is something to embrace, not be ashamed of. In “Memorandum” the speaker clearly is taking a stance against her “Boyfriend from Hell.” She tells of his flaws and poor decisions, exposing him from solely what she thinks his is. In the untitled work by Peter Meinke, the speaker’s son faces hardship from his father, physical beatings to emotional abuse. This is yet another act of injustice on someone because they were an easy target. The majority targets minority groups just because there are less of them and they are seen as an easy target.

Is there an answer to the problem of discrimination and biased incidents that have been occurring at Loyola, and around the country? I don’t know. What I do know, is that as each individual moves toward a greater understanding of what it means to be an accepting person, we move that much closer to a bias-free and discrimination-free world. Some may say that those two things are not attainable. They may be right—some people will always be ignorant about others, but we can always hope for the best.

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