If people are all good, where does discrimination come from?
Discrimination does not happen “because of a person’s sexuality”, it happens because people are homophobic. Discrimination does not happen “because of a person’s race”, it happens because people are racist. Discrimination doesn’t happen “because gender exists”, it happens because people are sexist and transphobic.
Discrimination happens because everyone is prejudiced in all manner of ways. We have grown up being influenced and conditioned to see the world in certain ways from the moment we arrived into it. Inequality seems very normal to us because we know no different. We all therefore need to look inside and learn to accept the ways in which we naturally discriminate, to accept the uncomfortable parts of ourselves and through doing so enable ourselves to change.
We also have to unlearn the social conditioning we have received that causes us to revere those with power and to blame victims who have been rendered powerless. We must recognise that it is those who persecute and discriminate who need to change, not those who are discriminated against.
Time and again we see politicians and the media attempting to frame cases of discrimination in order to play a sophisticated game of “blame the victim”, where women who are raped are blamed for bringing the attack it upon themselves, effeminate gay men are blamed for bringing discrimination upon themselves, and where everyone at work is expected to adopt a ‘professional’ persona that just so happens to conform to the natural traits of authoritarianism and masculinity that come naturally to many white, heterosexual men and that suppress the natural behaviours and expression of racially, culturally and sexually diverse men and all women.
Discrimination is alive and well and we all contribute to it. Only through increasing our self-awareness can we break the cycle and end this.
Breaking the cycle of discrimination
We can break the cycle of discrimination in three ways:
- Challenging systems of oppression – including those that give us power
- Raising awareness to the inequalities that result of unearned privileges
- Use our privilege to give power to those to those who do not have it and ensure their voices are heard