Discrimination can be confused with other terms such as prejudice and stereotype. It is important to differentiate between the three terms so that we better understand what we deal with in society. Stereotypes are images held in our minds in regards to certain racial or cultural groups, without consideration of whether the images held are true or false. Stemming from stereotypes is prejudice. The prejudicial attitude occurs when we prejudge a person, good or bad, on the basis that the stereotypes associated with the person/group being prejudged are true. Discrimination is the combination of the terms mentioned above, but involves actually acting out with unfair treatment, directing the action towards the person/group. Prejudice and discrimination do not just occur racially, but it is found among gender, religion, culture, and geographical background. Remember that prejudice is a result of attitude and discrimination is a result of action.
At one point in our lives, we have all experienced a type of discrimination. It happens to everyone, even if they happen to be the dominating group of their society. By dominating, I am referring to the stereotype that white, rich men dominate the society. Is it false, or true? I, myself, have experienced discrimination. One example is the wonderful experience of buying a car. It is tough enough to get up the courage to deal with the salesmen at the dealership, but even harder when you are a young female. Most salesmen I came in contact with were under the assumption that I was nave and did not understand the process of buying a car. Four out of the five salesmen I conversed with showed me the vanity mirrors as soon as the car was opened. The safety lights, construction of the interior for safety, or simply the power of the vehicle were not discussed unless I asked. When I asked to look under the hood or had any power train questions, the look of shock on their faces was quite amusing. Before going to the dealerships, I researched the vehicle I was interested in and asked them questions I already knew. And none of the questions I asked pertained to the location of the vanity mirror or cell phone connection. In addition to the lame assumptions made about my interests in the vehicle, I was also given a new salesman who knew very little about the car being sold. The managers thought that I would be an easy sale and there was no need to waste their sharks on a young female like me. Once presented with the financial obligations of the vehicle, my knowledge on the subject was yet another shock. I knew if I was paying too much, and understand that drawing out the payment term was not saving me money. Their tricks were not going to work on this young female. Each time I argued with the salesman regarding the payment plan, a manager was brought in to try and sooth things over. Basically, he was brought in to reword what the current salesman was proposing to make me feel like I did not know what I was talking about. Sneaky yes, rude yes! The salesman I bought a car from was the gentleman who showed me the outside of the car, the engine, safety features both in and out, and THEN proceeded to show me the amenities the car offered. Not once did he bring the manager over until I was ready to sign the papers. Treating me like an average human instead of an idiotic girl worked for me, even if I did pay a little more for my vehicle of choice.
Reducing the amount of discrimination is possible, but not without a hard fight. It will always be there. Many times the person discriminating against another will not realize what they are doing because they have been brought up to believe certain ideas about certain groups of people. To them, it is a way of life. To the person being discriminated against, it makes their way of life harder. You cannot tell someone what to believe or feel, but you can help them to see what is considered wrong or right among a majority of the society. And being that a majority will always overrule a minority, it holds a promising future. Being open to new ideas and experiences will help us to broaden our views of other groups of people. Unless we experience what others do, we will never truly understand who people are. It is hard not to judge people before we know them. We do not wear who we are on our clothes. This society is fast paced and seems to have little time for anything outside the normal routine. Laziness has caused the feelings of others to be hurt, and discrimination to continue. Follow yourself and not what others tell you to believe. Take one second out of your day to say Hi to someone different than you. That one second could make that persons world change forever, and yours!