Discrimination in Modern Society

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History will show that we, human beings, have greatly evolved in different ways and this is certainly true. There are aspects of our lives that have improved with time but we cannot say for sure that we have perfected or attained a level of satisfaction for all to enjoy or feel comfortable with. One such aspect of life is the issue of discrimination. According to Nelson (2015), this is the unfair treatment of a person because of a specific attribute about them. It is a problem that we can for sure say that has been curbed to a given extent but it still occurs in modern society. The issue with discrimination is that it can affect any one of us at any given time thus the need for it to be addressed as effectively as possible. Given the available evidence on discrimination, it is only fair to acknowledge that it is more widespread than we would like to admit and most importantly, it is a global issue.

Understanding Discrimination

From the above description, it is the act of being unfair to someone else based on specific attributes. These will mostly include their race, religion, sex, physical abilities, and age among other things. Given the circumstances, discrimination is thus best described in regards to the type. The most common form of discrimination in today’s society has to be that of race. This is whereby an individual will be treated unjustly based on the color of their skin. As a society, we mostly associate this kind of prejudice with African Americans as the victims. This is perhaps given the historical happenings from the slavery era where blacks were considered to be inferior to the whites. The same is true for other ethnic groups such as Latinos and Indians.

With this form of discrimination, a person will be judged foremost based on the societal characteristic associated with their race thus making it difficult for them to receive as much fair treatment as they are entitled to (Schaefer, 2008). It is a problem that has seen a lot of people miss out on great opportunities simply because of their skin color; which in the first place they do not have control over. The same type of discrimination is the reason most young people now prefer to alter their skin tone as much as possible in order to be accepted by the society. This is why young girls are the most affected when it comes to racial discrimination in a society whereby beauty is described in terms of being fair and light in color.

Apart from the above, another common type of discrimination has to be gender discrimination whereby one’s gender is the defining factor as to how they will be treated. Again, in this situation, women fall, victims, more than men. The norm borrows from historical societal conditions as women were expected to take second place after men. According to Schaefer (2008), it was acceptable to treat and see women as less to men even though they were capable of doing what most men did. Borrowing from this, the same still happens just not as pronounced like before.

Today, women are discriminated against in regards to their work and societal roles. We still expect women to be the caregiver who waits on their family as opposed to having a thriving career and furthermore, women in corporate still do not enjoy equal pay and opportunities as men (Schaefer, 2008). The unjust treatments tend to promote inequality such that women have to work twice or thrice as much as men in order to get the recognition they rightfully deserve. Thus, in as much as the feminist movement has achieved more for women rights, there is still room for more improvement meaning gender discrimination is still happening.

Other forms of discrimination that affect our society today include national, disability, pregnancy, religion, and age. Every form of unjust treatment as mentioned is likely to make one feel less important as this is the ultimate objective of discrimination. Most certainly, it is important to acknowledge the fact that the act is not as openly displayed like before but there is the need to understand that the solutions at hand are not effective enough as it is still happening.

Causes and Consequences of Discrimination

According to Nelson (2015), one of the main reasons as to why people discriminate is to feed their ego. As human beings, we are naturally inclined to want to feel superior and not the opposite. This is further the reason as to why some countries are at loggerheads because of the struggle to show who is more capable or is a superpower. The same goes for individuals within the society. Therefore, in order to show how might and strength and to boost our ego and self-esteem, people result in discriminating against each other. Some people are aware that they are discriminating while others can be unconscious about it as all they seek is to be self-absorbed and to show how much better they are against the other person.

Another cause of discrimination is ignorance as encouraged by the environment one lives in. As explained above, most of the discrimination we encounter today results from a historical perspective. Therefore, Nelson (2015) explains that, still, there are people who embrace specific norms from their society causing them to be ignorant of several other things. This way, such individuals only become aware of what they have been accustomed to making anything else unacceptable to them. It can further be explained as the fear of difference as people are not willing to consider there are other customs, cultures or perspectives different from their own.

The results of discrimination can either be psychological or physical. Nelson (2015) explains that most victims of discrimination will tend to have social anxiety, show signs of stress and depression as well as suffer from low self-esteem. Victims become socially withdrawn from others especially when they feel like they are indeed inferior. Furthermore, the psychological well being of the victim can lead to suicidal thoughts when the discrimination is extreme. In some instances, victims have been known to retaliate violently thus causing harm to others if not to self.

Physically, victims will suffer from stress-related illnesses such as high blood pressure which can further lead to a heart attack if not well managed (Nelson, 2015). Weight loss and poor appetite are yet other consequences of discrimination. Apart from this, Nelson (2015) explains that there is the economic aspect of things where the productivity of an employee declines thus affecting the overall performance of an organization. The same is true in regards to the academic performance of students who are constantly dealing with discrimination issues at school.

Addressing Discrimination

When it comes to addressing the issue of discrimination, there are policies that have been implemented to help make it illegal. The most important policy has to be the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which makes it illegal to be unjust to someone else simply because of their race, religion, color, gender, nationality, and physical disability. According to EEOC (n.d.), the law further makes it illegal to take up action as a means of retaliating against a person who enforces their right to sue when being discriminated against. The importance of this law is that it mostly covers all major types of discrimination that could possibly happen to any one of us.

Another law that seeks to promote equality is the Equal Pay Act of 1963 that calls upon women and men to be paid the same wages and salaries if they both perform the same tasks and work in the same positions and workplace (EEOC, n.d.). There are also gender equality laws that seek to promote equal opportunities for women and men in our society just as there are laws defining how persons with disabilities ought to be treated and respected. The benefit of such laws is that they give people the right to live a respectable life. Furthermore, they help make discrimination punishable by law thus helping to curb the issue.

Apart from relying on the government to find ways to make discrimination illegal and punishable, every individual also has a role to play in being part of the solution rather than the problem. One effective way of addressing the issue from an individual's perspective is to speak up against it. Victims should understand that it is wrong, thus report incidents to the right authority (Stokes, 2017). Moreover, it is important to create awareness of the problem and have people talk about it rather than shy away from it. This should help create an environment where open conversations on various kinds of discrimination are encouraged thus addressing the problem from the grassroots.

People should also be more accepting of who they are as this will help shield them from the consequences of discrimination. According to Stokes (2017), dealing with the issue starts with both the victim and the perpetrator, where both have to come to the understanding that they are uniquely different. Once a person is in a position to comprehend this, they will wholly accept and be proud of themselves thus making it impossible to succumb to discrimination. In addition to this, tolerance needs to be practiced by everyone. This will allow for the understanding that apart from our own cultures, opinions, skin color, and a lot more, there is someone else who holds the same but differs from what we are accustomed to. By being tolerant we are acknowledging that the world is full of diversity and it can accommodate it all.

In conclusion, it is important to understand what discrimination is and that it can occur in different ways. There is no one person who is immune to it as it can happen to anyone at any place or time. The causes of discrimination are deeply rooted in our historical past given how we are evolving as a society and the norms we choose to keep. As such, we ought to start promoting a culture that teaches future generations to be more accepting of others just as they accept themselves. This way, we can further address the issue of discrimination and perhaps find a more effective solution.



EEOC (n.d.). Laws Enforced by EEOC. Retrieved from https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/index.cfm

Nelson, T. (2015). Handbook of Prejudice, Stereotyping, and Discrimination. New York: Psychology Press

Schaefer, R. (2008). Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Society. California:  SAGE

Stokes, D. (2017). Top 5 Ways to Overcome Discrimination. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dashanne-stokes/top-5-ways-to-overcome-di_b_7948058.html

August 14, 2023


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