Discrimination takes many forms. The most obvious form is racism, because it is usually based on some outward distinction of a minority. In America Blacks, Latinos, and Asians are distinguished from the dominant white culture by skin color. There are other types of racism based on how people talk (the Irish, and today all foreigners). Other subtle differences are used (Jewish noses). Most of this type of racism is due to a type of tribalism. We are most comfortable with members of our tribe, or culture. We fear the “Others” because in the past the others might have attacked us.
Another type of discrimination is religious. This is more difficult because most people don’t advertise their faith. Think of the Protestant Catholic conflicts. When people wear different clothing, it is easier to discriminate, (think of Hijabs, or yarmulkes).
One of the greatest dangers is a pathological belief in moral dualism. That is the belief that you and those like you, are right and good, and that everyone else is wrong and bad. This seems to be a disease infecting our politics. If everyone else is perceived as evil, it provides justification for all sorts of cruelty. That is what has led the Salafists (Extremist Sunni Muslims) to terrorism, and what caused Hitler, Stalin and Mao to kill millions. It becomes pathological when people don’t care who is hurt when they try to force their views on others, or harm or kill others because they are different.
The most common form of discrimination is sexual discrimination. This is somewhat different because it is not based so much on fear, as it is religious and cultural standards. Traditionally women were consigned to submissive attitudes towards men, because men were perceived as better fighters. Moreover women had a bad habit of becoming pregnant and having children, so most cultures thought the woman’s place is home, cleaning and caring for the children. This translates to different jobs, (teaching, nursing, and secretarial work). Women stayed close to home and did the cooking, mending, and in most of the world the farming. While men did the hunting, raiding and warfare, that took them far afield. Much of that changed in the 20th century in the developed world because of education, the development of contraceptives, and child care. This made it possible for women to get advanced degrees and have a career.
Today in America and much of the developed world women are better educated and better at corporate and government skills then men, yet they are still discriminated against. Old customs are difficult to change. There has always been discrimination against the poor and it had been formalized in England with a strong Class system, and in India with the Caste system.
Some relatively new forms of discrimination that might have happened in the past, but you didn’t hear much about them, are the gender discrimination of the LGBT. Native Americans in the past often revered the transgender as two spirit people because they had an understanding of both males and females.
Sexual and gender discrimination are not based so much on fear of others, but as a threat to traditional norms. Much of this discrimination is based on religiously imposed mores. There is a culture of rape that is a holdover of matriarchal societies that considered women as the spoils of war.
In today’s world, the consequences of discrimination and bullying due to that, are being felt. Young adult males who are bullied, humiliated and don’t feel accepted by normal society sometimes become mass murderers or terrorists. Young black men who feel victimized by a legal system that harasses blacks and arrests them at much greater rates than whites, are sometimes recruited into radical Islam in prison. Daesh (ISIS) recruits disaffected people from Europe and the West to go to Syria and Iraq to become terrorists by appealing to those who feel humiliated. This is blowback from discrimination.
So what is the solution to discrimination? The first step is to understand the basic reasons that all of us have certain biases and bigotries. We all discriminate in some ways often subconsciously. If we recognize that we personally discriminate and are all a bit racist/sexist or prejudiced against people who are different, we can consciously refuse to act according to those prejudices. People who travel abroad and meet and interact with people of other cultures, faiths, and customs, and people who speak other languages, are less fearful of the “Others” and can have greater empathy for them. Ignorance is often tied to fear. Diversity and education reduces discrimination.
One of the oldest and most effective diversity training programs is Jane Elliot’s “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” exercise. http://www.janeelliott.com/
Youtube 14 min. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pv8mCHbOrs
Religious discrimination 1:59 min https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldENlFXKUo0
Santa 3 min. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63j9JQeCXIs
Sexual Discrimination 3 min. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8EiCCTto9U
Labels 1 min. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTOjg4De188
Something that we all face – Agism. 2:19 min. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bz-FpS9VD1g
The effects of prejudice 4 min. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AtRk4tx13k
Today there is a new type of prejudice – cyberbullying. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmQ8nM7b6XQ