Racism. Sexism. Ageism. Homophobia. Anti-Semitism. Discrimination is all around us and it is harmful and divisive. Yet, do we take the actions — in that moment or later — to impact this inappropriate, offensive and unhealthy behavior? Too many times, we don't. Those impacted in these moments need someone to intervene. They need a hero!
While there is a vast amount of information on discrimination, we will assimilate some of it here to give you a broad overview of the subject.
Discrimination is oftentimes defined as the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category. Discrimination is the actual behavior towards members of another group. It involves excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to other groups. Moral philosophers have defined it as disadvantageous treatment or consideration. This is a comparative definition. An individual need not be actually harmed in order to be discriminated against. He or she just needs to be treated worse than others for some arbitrary reason.
Forms of Discrimination
An understanding of the various forms of discrimination is one of the first steps to being able to take a stand against discrimination of others:
- Racial and ethnic — based on real and perceived racial differences
- Sex, gender and gender identity — adverse action against another person which would not have occurred had the person been of another sex
- Employment — disabling certain people to apply and receive jobs based on their race, age, gender, religion, height, weight, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Sexual orientation — discrimination against actual or perceived homosexuality
- Langugage — when people are subjected to different treatment because their preferred language is associated with a particular group, class or category
- Reverse — some attempts at anti-discrimination end up being discriminatory themselves
- Disability — discrimination against people with disabilities in favor of people who are not
- Religious — valuing or treating a person or group differently because of what they do or do not believe
Taking a Stand Against Discrimination
Many of us are bystanders to various forms of discrimination every, single day. While there are blatant forms of discrimination, there are also subtle forms that require us to be alert, aware and present to what is happening and being said all around us. Those experiencing any form of discrimination need us to take a stand for them. They need to be protected. They need to be kept safe. They need heroes!
We also must be aware of our own biases before we can take a stand for others. Many of us suffer from some others' prejudicial treatment and want to fight it; however, we have not first dealt with our own biases towards others. This will cause a deep-rooted dilemma within ourselves. And, all too often, we have biases, stereotypes and prejudices that we have become quite numb, even oblivious, to. We must own, and be responsible for, our behaviors towards others before we can, with any integrity, fight against those same biases in others.
Our stand, here at the RA Project, is that all of us really do know the difference between right and wrong. We know when we are being biased, showing prejudice or relating to someone from a stereotype. We do know! It's a matter of going beyond the reasons, justifications, rationalizations, explanations and excuses for why we have the thoughts we do and even take the actions we take. Or, don't take the actions we know to take — on behalf of someone else or a group of people being discriminated against.
The opportunity here is to get real about our own biases, educated ourselves on inappropriate and offensive actions, and take a stand against discrimination in those moments of time when someone is being shown a prejudice, bias or exclusion.
To Get More
There are blog posts, related videos and downloadable documents below to educate and empower you to be an Every|Day Hero against discrimination. We will be constantly adding material to this website and welcome your thoughts, opinions and submissions. To contact us, click here.
For a list of issues to consider before intervening against discrimination, click here. Step Up! is a quality and reputable bystander intervention program from the University of Arizona.