Tonight I experienced discrimination firsthand and didn't recognize it for what it was.
I did recognize it only I thought it was sexism in action.
I was wrong.
I was wrong.
I was talking to a man -- rather I was *trying* to talk to a man and give him some very helpful information. Not only did he not give me eye-to-eye contact, he wouldn't look at me when I spoke. Not only did he not look at me when I spoke, he didn't look my direction.
He was short, curt and uppity. He didn't want my help. He didn't want me talking to him. That was very clear.
When my family got home from this activity, I discussed it with my husband. I expressed my opinion that the guy was just being a sexist jerk.
My wise husband smiled and started speaking in a gentle tone. Frankie, he said, sexism was only a small part of it. He didn't want contact with you because you are overweight.
I was floored and about to ask why he thought that. Then it dawned on me. That's why the man couldn't even look at me, because I'm overweight.
I cannot understand how someone can hate someone else because of their body shape. Same with skin color. Same with religion. Same with sexual preference. I could write a million "same with" sentences here. I don't understand discrimination.
Really, I just don't get it.
I think the people that can't look you in the eye and are so closed off to any other ideas than their own are the saddest people that walk the face of the earth. I think they must lead the most miserable lives imaginable. I think they are projecting their own self-hatred and self-doubt onto others. I think they are so full of hate that it eats away at them so they lash out at others in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.
I pity them.
My son saw all of this. He also was privy to our conversation after the fact. Another valuable lesson for him. Funny thing is, we don't need to tell him why discrimination in any form is wrong. He knows.
To drive home the lesson, though, I've come up with some vocabulary.
Tomorrow morning's lessons:
discriminate: 2. To make distinctions on the basis of class or category without regard to individual merit ; show preference or prejudice
unreasonable: Not governed by reason.
preconceived: To form (an opinion, for example) before possessing full or adequate knowledge or experience.
conviction: A fixed or strong belief.
1. a. An adverse judgment or opinion formed beforehand or without knowledge or examination of the facts.
b. A preconceived preference or idea.
2. The act or state of holding unreasonable preconceived judgments or convictions.
3. Irrational suspicion or hatred of a particular group, race, or religion.
4. Detriment or injury caused to a person by the preconceived, unfavorable conviction of another or others.
1. To cause (someone) to judge prematurely and irrationally.
2. To affect injuriously or detrimentally by a judgment or an act.
1. a. To feel hostility or animosity toward.
b. To detest.
2. To feel dislike or distaste for
pity: Sympathy and sorrow aroused by the misfortune or suffering of another.
tolerance: The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.
Tomorrow I will teach my son to start seriously questioning. Why do some people believe it is good to beat babies with plastic pipe? Why do people hate fat people? Why is there racial discrimination? Why do some religious people do what they do? I'm sure he will come up with a million questions.
Tomorrow I will stress my favorite line for the millionth time: LIVE AND LET LIVE with the caveat: as long as it does no one or thing harm. If it causes harm, fight it like crazy.